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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Apprentice: The Complete First Season
The Apprentice: The Complete First Season
Universal // Unrated // August 24, 2004
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Blake Kunisch | posted August 23, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Introduction:

With the deluge of "reality" television shows littering the airwaves on almost every channel, including those you would last expect, they all seem to run together.  Every once in a while, a reality show is able to stand out and above the rest (Survivor, The Mole (non-celebrity), and The Amazing Race).  Last season, NBC decided to hold the ultimate job interview, and while that may not be too interesting in and of itself, all you need is a gimmick - and that's where Donald Trump came in.  Without Trump, The Apprentice would have been bland, boring, and nothing special, but when you throw in Trump, let us look behind the scenes (to a degree) at his operations, give us a look behind his enigmatic haircut, you can't help but be intrigued.  Now, with its release on DVD, we get to see (and hear) even more of the Donald then most people really need to see - and the little "You're Fired" speaker implanted inside the front cover of the DVD box is a bit much, even for the Donald.

The Show (minor spoilers):

The Apprentice, was, as NBC said, the ultimate job interview, and though we only truly see one interview at the end of the series, throughout the multiple tasks and boardroom arguments, we do learn quite a lot about these sixteen candidates.  The show starts out with the men against the women, a ploy Survivor has only tried (and failed with) once, and one that I doubt we'll see again next season.  The women completely dominated their opponents throughout the first episodes, winning every task, using their smarts and sex appeal while the men fumbled away opportunities.  When the teams were finally combined, we saw a show that finally lived up to expectations as the tasks became more relevant to the interview/boardroom process and the weak were slowly whittled away.

In the end, when all was said and done, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why this show gained such a large following.  There were fans of Donald Trump, fans of reality television in general, and those who just wanted to see Omarosa get the boot.  But what worked here was the interaction between the players outside the challenges.  On other shows, you really only get to see them competing and miss out on the camaraderie.  Here, you see them working together to formulate board room strategies, you see more than alliances, you see true friendships that genuinely seem to extend beyond the game.  Reality show creator Mark Burnett (Survivor) once again has a hit on his hands, thanks in no small part to the gimmick of Donald Trump and his out of control hair.

The Picture:

Going into this, I guessed there would be no widescreen presentation as the show was not aired in HD, and, I was unfortunately correct as the episodes are all presented in the standard 1.33:1 television ratio.  The quality is pretty much the same you'd find on television - minor flaws, but nothing really stands out.  It was most likely filmed digitally and the transfer to DVD shows no loss of quality.  There's really nothing to complain about here - it's your standard television show on DVD - and being a reality show, there's really no especially dark scenes to look for artifacts, nor did I notice any problem with skin tones.

The Sound:

Like the picture, there's really nothing here to talk about.  It's presented in Dolby Surround, as it was on NBC, here on the DVD and while you occasionally get some ambient sound effects, the surround is pointless and really adds nothing to the DVD.  The audio is clear throughout - so much so, you can hear where they had Donald voiceover certain parts to insert additional instructions for the task at hand for the audience that were most likely provided in writing to the contestants.  No flaws in the sound, though there's nothing spectacular to set it apart from any other reality show to DVD transfer.

Special Features:

A bit disappointingly, all the special features are found on disc five.  While this really isn't a problem, it shows you that there are no episode-specific special features to be had.  No commentaries over certain episodes (who wouldn't like to hear a commentary over the last episode by the remaining contestants or a running commentary over the "concussion" episodes by Omarosa?).  The special features on the fifth disc are:

The Future: A Look Ahead, The Boss: Donald Trump on The Apprentice, Natural Selection, Deleted Scenes, Truth from a Taxi - The Final Words, "Donald-isms," Career Advice from George and Carolyn, The Candidates, The Audition, The Job Offer, The Job Description: Creating The Apprentice, Mark Burnett on The Apprentice, Music Video, and The Contender

Bonus Features:

The Ultimate Job Interview! The Job Description: Creating The Apprentice: This short behind-the-scenes look at The Apprentice features interviews with Mark Burnett and Donald Trump on how they came about the idea and found the sixteen cast members.  The featurette is interesting as you get some commentary on the show from Burnett and Trump, but when all is said and done, there's not much meat to the feature.  The coolest part was the look behind the construction of the set with Donald as you can tell he was pretty into the show before it even started.  The feature is about seven minutes long and is worth a watch - once.

The Candidates: Each of the sixteen candidates has a short featurette here with their interviews and their audition tapes.  Each one is about two minutes long and gives you some insight into the candidates that we didn't get to see during the show (though not all the footage is brand-new).  Caution: each candidate has a Fired over their name except for the winner, so if you don't know who wins, this is not for you.

Extended Audition Tapes: Similar to the "Candidates" feature above, this gives you some more insight into the sixteen contestants on the show.  Here you get to see the complete audition tape from the contestants.  Each is anywhere from 45 seconds to 3 minutes.  I really think they should have showed these during the show itself, maybe one per episode, but since we didn't see them, now we can.  It looks like some of the tapes have been edited somewhat and they all feature a lot of blurred faces (perhaps why it wasn't on the show), but in the end, this was one of my favorite special features.

The Boss: Donald Trump on The Apprentice: A.K.A. Stroke Donald's ego.  The featurette has interviews from the contestants on how Trump is just a normal, down-to-earth, regular person and how great he is.  There are some behind-the-scenes clips of Trump screwing up on camera which are funny, but the whole thing is pretty boring otherwise.

"Donaldisms" - Mr. Trump's Words to Live (and Work) By:  In each episode we had little Donald-isms thrown in before the task set before the contestants.  Here, we have them all back-to-back-to-back, etc.  About three and half minutes of Donald's words to live by.

The Board of Directors - Mark Burnett on The Apprentice:  A.K.A. Stroke Burnett's ego.  Similar to the "Boss" feature above, this one has interviews with the cast members and with Burnett himself on how he rose from nothing to the millionaire he is today.  It's about three minutes long and re-treads over many of the points already made in other features.

Insights and Advice - From George and Carolyn:  Here we have career advice from both George and Carolyn - from resumes to interviews to how to keep your job.  There actually is some useful information presented from both George and Carolyn and is a great watch for those who are still looking or planning on looking for a job.

From 16 to One - Narrowing the Field, Natural Selection:  A quick recap of all the tasks and the boardrooms, you pretty much get the whole series in 7 minutes.  So if you don't want to watch all fifteen episodes, you can get it here.

Truth from a Taxi - The Final Words: Here's where it gets interesting.  After each show, you had short little "taxicab confessions" as each fired person gets to rant and rave in the taxi.  Here, we get to see longer taxi interviews - much more than the 20 seconds or so shown after each episode.  It's fun to watch them try and make excuses or put down other players and this was one of the best parts of the special features.

Deleted Scenes:  I'm all for deleted scenes and all, but what I want to see is each deleted scene with the episode it goes with.  I want to see commentary as to why it wasn't included in the final show.  I don't want to see them all back-to-back-to-back without any reason as to their exclusion or without any real sense of continuity.  For the most part, you can guess where each deleted scene went, but seeing them all in one featurette just doesn't seem to work here.  There are nine deleted scenes in total.

"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" Music Video: I really don't know what to say about this...you've got little Donald-isms thrown in with clips from the show and an absurd song.  Skip this at all costs.

The Job Offer: At the end of the show, the eventual winner was presented with two job offers and you would think we'd get to see more about them here.  But, basically, this is just interviews with the final two contestants on the show.  They talk about the boardroom, the tasks presented to them, and the Donald.  There's really nothing too special here other than short interviews with the final two - they just get their final say on the bonus disc.

The Future: A Look Ahead - An Exclusive Look at Season Two: At the end of Season One, throughout the final episode, we were told to wait until after the break for a look at Season Two - but all we got was some lame promo that had nothing to do with season two other than telling us it'd be like season one.  Here, you actually get a look at the season two contestants - from their one word descriptions of why they'll win (flantastic was my favorite) to short little interviews with the eighteen contestants.  The interviews continue for a while and we get a look at the new contestants, but nothing else about the show itself (though one would assume it'll be quite derivative).

Advice from Season One Contestants: Season one contestants tell season two contestants how to win.  "Be Yourself," "Have Fun," etc. etc. etc.  Nothing too special or out of the ordinary here.

The Contender Promo Spot: Yet another reality show.  This time with Sly Stallone.

Conclusion:

Recently I've wondered why there's been such a rush to get television shows out to DVD when a lucrative syndication market still exists.  There are usually two reasons that I've figured out - either the show won't get to enough episodes to find its way to syndication or there really is no replay value in syndication.  The Apprentice is in the latter of those two groups.  If you watched the first season, you already know who wins each task.  You know who wins the apprenticeship.  You know that Omarosa is annoying and grating.  You know that Donald's hair is out of control - and while it is fun to watch it flutter in the wind after exiting his helicopter in slow motion, you can only rewind it so many times.  The only real reason I see to buy this set is for the special features, most of which are interesting, however, they, like the show itself, will get quite old, quite fast.

Fans of the show on television might want to buy the DVD so they can rewatch them all without commercials, back to back.  And maybe if you picked up the show halfway through the season, the DVD is a good buy, but in the end, once you know who wins, you've seen it all.  Without extended episodes with extra footage, without audio commentaries from the contestants on individual episodes, and without any extra footage from the competition itself, I don't see any real reason to buy the DVD other than the special features - most of which are short and uninteresting and those which do hold your attention (most notably the "Truth from a Taxi" and the "Extended Audition Tapes") will be essentially worthless after one viewing.

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