Welcome back Vera. Thanks so much for another fabulous recap.
After a very short break, Pioneer Woman is back with another new episode. Something is very weird about the production schedule. The production company must be working 24/7 to get all of these new episodes on air so quickly. Most FN shows are produced in blocks of 6 episodes with several weeks of reruns in between. Not Ree – she just cranks out those episodes one after another with hardly a break in between. Do they have multiple camera crews on the ranch, all filming at the same time, producing several episodes at once?
On to today’s episode: Gathering Bulls. More exciting footage of cows and bulls being moved around from one pasture to another, more stock footage of horses, trucks, kids on and off of horses, and more mumbling from Ladd, the original marble-mouthed cowboy.
More like Gathering Bullshit.
We begin in the kitchen at The Lodge, where Ree is fixing lunch for the kids to eat between working with Ladd and a homeschool session. The whacky carnival music immediately kicks in, as Ree makes the most important part of the meal – dessert. Since the opening credits have not changed since the very first episode, I am stunned at Ree’s current appearance, especially compared to the closing shot in the credits. Now her hair looks limp and droopy, she looks quite bloated, and her makeup looks more garish than ever. She has really changed in looks, and not for the better. She’s wearing a huge grey patterned shirtain with flowy sleeves, perfect for cooking, right?
“Doctor, doctor, gimme the news, I got a bad case of Botox blues.”
She starts off talking to one of the dogs and gets no response from him, then she intros a flashback to what Ladd and the kids are doing. Yes, it’s that same footage of them saddling horses in the dark with the graphic that says it’s 6:00 a.m.
“Maybe if I pretend to be asleep, I won’t have to eat her awful food…zzzzzz”
We get it Ree. Your family starts work early. So do millions of others.
Cut back to Ree, who has melted some marshmallows in a Caribbean Blue LeCreuset dutch oven and is talking about wanting to drink them with a straw. Yuck! She adds Nutella, though she has to call it “hazelnut spread”, then she proclaims the melted sugary stuff ultra-ultra-delicious. She hacks at some pecans with her giant square knife, then goes back to stirring the melted ingredients. She’s babbling about the mixture being smooth while we look at a close up of how streaky and not smooth it actually is. Then she dumps in some “crispy rice cereal”, since she can’t say Rice Krispies, and some miniature marshmallows, to add to the sickening sweet factor.
“For that added level of flavor, sleeve bacteria works the best.”
This part is so boring, I am looking past her to see what is on the shelves in the prep area behind her. The stuff on the shelves is colorful, so I guess this was taped after the white décor was swapped out. In the meantime, she has dumped the sticky mass into a pan and is now drizzling melted chocolate on top. Then she adds some more chopped pecans. I wonder what is going to hold them on, since she doesn’t press them in or anything, but she’s moving on. Tease of the upcoming lemonade, potatoes and green beans, then we are out to commercial.
Back for more cows, trucks, cows, kids on horseback, cows, then cut to Ree making strawberry lemonade. She puts strawberries, sugar and water into the blender, hits puree, then starts yelling over the noise. I hate that. Either do the blender recipes in a flashback or move the microphone so it doesn’t pull the background noise to the foreground, or just shut up while it’s running, but yelling over it is so annoying.
“Strawberry lemonade tastes so much better when pureed in a $450 BlendTec.”
She’s babbling about just happening to have all the ingredients on hand, so she decided on the spur of the moment to make strawberry lemonade. You know, that happens to me all of the time, too. I am sitting on my ranch in the middle of nowhere, or hanging out at my lodge that I built just to have a place to hang out, and I mysteriously have lemons and strawberries that I have no other need for, so I decide to make lemonade. Sure, Ree, you are just like us! So, the strawberries, the lemon juice, more sugar, more water, then cut to more cows and more horses. It seems like they are trying to exhaust the stock footage library this week.
Back to Ree, dragging her floppy sleeves through a frying pan full of butter and onions and flour. She says she’s making scalloped potatoes and ham for the kids to eat before they start their schoolwork. Because, after you’ve been working outside in the hot sun and before you sit down to read and do schoolwork, what you really want is a greasy, carb-heavy meal to have to digest. Yeah, right.
“It’s a good thing the flame is turned off…shhhh, the audience will never know.”
Cut to more cows, then back to Ree saying in the most annoying voice ever that the kids are about to come in and “git started with their books”. She mixes up whole milk and half & half and adds it to the ingredients in the skillet to make a sauce for the potatoes and ham that she says will be luscious. Then there is a short tease of the kids with schoolbooks in front of them and eating their lunch, then cut to commercial.
Back with more stock cow footage, then Ree using a mandolin to slice potatoes. She’s slicing away and talking into the camera and I am waiting for her to slice off part of a finger. At least she does use the guard to slice the last bit of the potato. Then she puts half of the sliced potatoes into a baking dish and we are treated to detailed instructions on how to cut ham into small cubes. Is there some reason that in every episode, there is one seemingly self-explanatory task that she explains with a level of detail more suited to brain surgery? She puts half of the ham cubes, some cheese and half of the white sauce on top of the potatoes in the baking dish, calling the sauce glorious as she glops it in. She makes some nonsensical statement about potatoes doing well with pepper, as she sprinkles pepper on the white sauce, then repeats the layers of potato, cheese, ham and sauce. Slam it into the oven, then cut to Ladd sending the kids in for lunch.
Note to all culinary students: this is what the Pioneer Woman considers “finely diced,” one inch cubes.
Some wooden acting and horse footage, then the kids arrive at The Lodge, dirty and tired. They sit around with their books in front of them as Ree continues to cook and mug for the camera crew.
“Staged? Who me? Why I never…”
There is some stilted conversation about whether they prefer schoolwork or ranch work. They all say schoolwork except Bryce, who Ree calls B-Man and proclaims the lone cowboy. This is when I notice that the girls are wearing makeup and earrings, which I guess they added for the show? I seriously doubt, if they actually do all this ranch work, that they dress camera-ready to do it on a regular day.
The final segment begins with some back and forth between Ladd, who is supposedly unloading some large number of bulls at some other location all by himself, and the four kids doing homework on their own while Ree continues to tape her show. Ree fries some green beans in butter, then Ladd mumbles some more about the bulls. He drives off in the truck and I wonder where he will go for lunch – Sonic? McDonald’s? He’s not going home!
“Sonic sounds pretty good about now, giddy up Flicka.”
Back in the kitchen, Ree squeezes a lemon onto the green beans and her voice pitch jumps higher for some reason. She scritches the beans around in the cast iron pan with a set of metal tongs, then tells the kids, after all the work they did in the morning, she is hungry. B-Man/Brycie replies, “Indeed” – he must be the new featured performer, since he gets all the highlighted lines. Ree makes some comment about some of the kids not liking fresh herbs, as the camera zooms in on Todd, then Alex. She serves the kids their plates of food and says again that “Daddy” is missing out. Why is she calling Ladd Daddy? Where did he go for lunch? Inquiring minds want to know! Then we are treated to a strange fast-forward clean up by the kids, as Ree stands at the counter and cuts the Rice Krispie treats in fast-forward. They all do a toast with their desserts while Alex has the most bored face I’ve ever seen. Then we are out.
“This show’s as bad as I look.”
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