Archive for April, 2007

Friday Night With Jonathan Ross

April 30, 2007

Jonathan Ross 

Let’s face it, Friday night telly can be a bit of a strange beast. It tries to appeal to the widest cross-section of the country on the bizarre theory that those who don’t choose to get arseholed in the local pub would like nothing more than juvenile celebrity based entertainment as a way to unwind. Thankfully things right now aren’t as bad as during the Autumn run when we have to contend with the reprehensible ‘Friday Night Project’ – a show so irredeemably awful that every week I have to sell my television on the off-chance I might catch a few seconds of national fucktard Justin Lee Collins, and his partner in setting back in the cause of gay rights by a decade Alan Carr.

Right now Peepshow fills that slot. This is a show I used to like very much, and to a certain degree still do, but since the godawful ‘Mitchell and Webb Look /Experience / Endurance’ I’ve found it very hard to watch. In hindsight, I should have chosen that programme as it’s still one of the best written things on TV, but the popular rule of the house this week chose Jonathan Ross and who am I to go against the tide?

No-one does the chat show quite like the Americans – overlong fillers for the commercial breaks they may be, but they are anchored by genuine talents and personalities like David Letterman. Over here we have sexual tyrant Jonathan Ross, a man severely lacking the fundamentals of what it takes to be on TV – charm, wit and an approachable demeanour. Quite how this fame pervert rose to the enviable position of the BBC’s flagpole presenter is beyond me – his lucrative contract being the equivalent of executives dancing round the public rubbing the licence fee cash over their naked bodies.

Last night’s edition followed the usual formula; Ross comes out in a bad suit, makes homophobic jibes masked as good-natured-ribbing to his in-house band Four Poofs and a Piano and then moves onto introducing his guests. Normally the running order of chat-shows is dictated by the relative fame of the guests – lesser-known hasbeen first, homegrown favourite second, huge star third. The whole point of this order is to keep the audience watching until the end, to make them sit through the boring stuff until they get to the megastar.

Not this time, though. The main guests were phone slapper Toby Maguire and tit-slipper Kirsten Dunst from Spiderman 3 and the booking deal that came with them clearly dictated they go first – there was no way Sony were going to let potential cinema-goers turn off half way through the scatty ramblings of Sarah Brightman before having had maximum exposure to their product. And so these Hollywood stars were churned out first, and forced to endure the constant masturbation jokes, arse-licking behaviour and out-and-out vanity of Ross in the name of movie-promotion.

It is at this point that a new form of celebrity death-match was invented. Instead of brutal plasticine violence, we had a competition to see who could present themselves as more bored, uncaring and indifferent to the task at hand. I felt kind of sorry for Maguire and Dunst, truth be told, as they were clearly slapping on a plastic smile and trotting out the same old shit on what is, to them, another in a long line of publicity appearances. That said, it’s hardly any justification for the frigid behaviour and lack of will to say anything other than thee movie’s press release.

All three were odious people; Maguire as closed off and cold as a corpse, utterly disinterested in anything other than fulfilling his contractual obligation to be there. Dunst looked like a strung out crack whore, all bones and a perm and giggling like a three year old with mental problems. Ross was his usual charmless self, convinced that self-deprecating humour wavered any thoughts of homophobia, misogyny or sexual obsession. The interview was a self-fulfilling prophecy of mistrust, cliche and banality with Ross’ questions so insipidly basic that they could only have come from the contract with Sony, and the stars’ answers a rehearsed informality which far exceeded patronising.

When Ross deviated from the promotional details Maguire and Dunst clammed up, visibly concerned that Ross’ only interests were Maguires masturbation habits and the colour of Dunst’s hair. One 30-second sequence saw the majority of questions burnt out with a succession of one word answers and uncomfortable pauses, and the only telling moment came when Ross asked Dunst how she dealt with promoting films she didn’t care about and doing interviews she hated, “you just fake it” she replied. The audience applauded the honesty, Maguire looked shocked and Ross, missing the point entirely, simply held his hand out toward her and shouted “women, ha, women.”

The trailer shown, the film lauded as wonderful by Ross and their 10 minute obligation fulfilled, Maguire and Dunst scuttled off to supposedly spend the rest of the hour in the company of the confused audio mess that is Jamie T and his Hoxton support band. After a few minutes the camera stopped cutting back to their reactions, presumably because their immense fame meant they didn’t have to suffer through the rest of the show like the usual B-list celeb plebs forced to hawk their shit on Ross’ show.

Bill Bailey was reliably amusing, although confused as to why Ross kept insulting him in such an unnecessary way. Sarah Brightman was slightly insane but also very charming until the point she mentioned the size of Andrew Lloyd Webbers penis and her credibility dropped in direct proportion to the rise of bile in my stomach. The only truly entertaining section was the scales which tell you which celebrity you weigh the same as, Dunst equalling Fozzy Bear and Bill Bailey somewhere between Ricki Lake and Mr T.

Jonathon Ross is one creepy motherfucker. He isn’t nearly as clever, depreciating or ironic as he has convinced himself he is, and he reminds me of the sort of person that has to legally introduce himself to the neighbour when he moves into a new area. He is seedy, stalkerish and the sort of personality that makes you want to avoid him at parties. It’s about time the BBC dropped this outdated format and presenter and actually tried to make Friday night TV something other than a vacuous indulgence in one mans ego.

Next week I’ll watch Peepshow.

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The Nancy Drew Movie: Podcast #1

April 27, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than any other artistic medium, it’s the moving image which goes out of its way to trigger a deliberate and intended reaction. Film and TV bombard your senses with information, and use calculated and considered methods to achieve the desired effect. Music and literature can, of course, be equally emotional and influencing but they require more effort, more association and more personal investment than the moving image does. Visual media has more tools at its disposal, more ways of inducing you into feeling a certain way and more ways of presenting a situation so that you can quickly identify and empathise with what it is presenting.

Often this can go wrong; if the love scene fails to arouse, or the chase scene fails to thrill this is because the filmmaker has failed to manipulate the audience sufficiently with the tools available. Occasionally, though, this can go horribly wrong and can result in the opposite effect being triggered. This will be have been witnessed by anybody who watched the animal torture in kids romp ‘Babe 2’ or the use of rohypnol as an amusing subplot in the romantic comedy ‘Loser.’ Sometimes the filmic methods are so misused that they enable the viewer to supress an emotional reaction and see instead the cold, hard, calculated intention of the producers.

It is with this is mind that I’d like to talk about The Nancy Drew Movie: Podcast #1

Nancy Drew. I used to like Nancy Drew. I was such an avid reader when I was a child that by the age of about 12 I’d already devoured the entire Hardy Boys collection, the Three Investigators series and the Willard Price adventure books. I’d also read 1984, Brave New World and On the Road but since they’d largely confused me I turned to my sisters anthologies of the worlds greatest teenage female detective.

And now they’ve made a movie of Nancy Drew, it doesn’t even look half bad as childrens’ films go. Since it’s coming out this summer they’ve started putting EPK materials on the web. EPK is an Electronic Press Kit – a collection of interviews, trailers, behind the scenes footage and featurettes that are touted to the worlds media as various forms of promotion and ‘exclusives.’ For years they’ve been cast love-ins and boring interviews, but since the world is now far more media-savvy they’ve become smarter, more entertaining and less relevant to the film they are promoting. All of that is a good thing.

As someone who makes EPKs (and, ok, likes Nancy Drew) I watched the podcast with interest, but something about this piece of promotional, forgettable web-fluff chilled me to my very core. Far from being interested, as was the filmmakers intention, or ironically amused which would have been the unintended effect, I was horrified as I saw before me all the cynical tools employed to present the image of something false.

Nancy Drew is a fun movie, a film for kids that is not meant to be taken seriously and that they can watch with friends or parents. The filmmakers behind this podcast has strived so hard to create the impression of a relaxed casuality that the whole piece fails to convince. As opposed to letting the teenagers talk freely and show their true personalities, the podcast has been scripted, managed and buffed to imply talking freely and the depiction of a personality.

I am well aware that this is for children and not for a conspiracy-seeing cineaste. I am also aware that this form of advertising and subtle manipulation has been occuring for decades and that Nancy Drew is doing nothing new. There is something about this podcast, though, which makes it seem like the epoch of promotional materials – like the heavens aligned and all the factors were brought together to create an impression of genuine.

All the elements are there, but exaggerated. The iPod is experiencing the same sort of product recognition as the Walkman or the Hoover did, so its inclusion is not surprising, but that the children proudly display it, finger it and promote accessorising it is worrying. The kids themselves are Disney kids, permanently smiled WASPish offspring hawking brands and product lifestyles – even the black girl is white. I didn’t even know the lead was a singer until she candidly admitted to having her own album on the iPod. Another strike there for cross-platform marketing.

What amazes me is that the producers felt the need to orchestrate every section of this podcast. By their very nature these things are meant to be informal and candid, and what could be a better way to utilise them than to let the child actors be honest and by their natures appeal to their youthful audience? Rather than trust the genuine attitudes of kids to appeal to other kids, the producers have chosen to brand behaviour, present an autonomous impression of childhood and sell goods at the same time.

By dressing this up as a wacky, informal podcast they are enforcing the idea that this is how all children behave, and that if kids want to be normal they need to buy the specifically mentioned iPod and accessorise it. Again, there is nothing new about this kind of promotion (hello He-Man, you 20 minute advert for toys you) but there is something about this one that worries me more than the rest… maybe it’s that I make this stuff for a living and see how it’s made more clearly, maybe it’s because I’m nearly 30, maybe it’s because I’m been fostering a deep mistrust of corporate entertainment for several years now or maybe this stuff has been going on for years and I’m seeing it for the first time. Either way, it doesn’t seem like the Nancy Drew I used to know and love.

By the way, they’re going to be making a Hardy Boys movie next year featuring Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller. Ignoring for a second the car crash that that genius idea will be, I personally can’t wait until Joe Hardy whips out his Sony Viao laptop and Frank makes a call on his Nokia mobile phone.

The Apprentice, Series 3, Episode 5

April 26, 2007

Tit Eating Fish 

Some blonde-on-blonde ‘art’ action after nine ‘o’ clock on BBC1? Surely not.

Actually, it was only the Apprentice.

Kristina Grimes – whose name makes her sound like a tart in a sitcom – took on Natalie Wood and to be honest it was clear from the off who was going to win this. Grimes is so self-assured she could sell you your own body for a cool half mill, whereas Wood is a well-meaning sort who hasn’t quite got what it takes to be number one in the business world (because what it takes is a psychopathic outlook on humanity and ethics).

This week’s task was to ‘take on the art-world’. The candidates would decide which two artists’ work they liked (of a very limited selection) and then try and flog them in an informal gallery setting. My problem from the very begin was that the art they were looking to flog was essentially commercial photography rather than anything truly interesting. Every picture on display wouldn’t have looked out of place in a high-end Arena. But then, I am a self-confessed art-buffoon who got an ‘E’ at A Level, so I’m probably wrong on that score.

The only photographer whose work I liked, the small rodenty chap with the insane pictures of his mum and dad prostrate on the floor in animal masks, was shunned early on as the teams went for the the most sellable and less interesting stuff.

I have to confess, I was with Fido Dido on this one. She at least had a sense of what she was talking about and seemed engaged with the market in a vague way. The fact she didn’t sell a picture is somewhat irrelevant – surely selling art is about making contacts above all else, rather than selling product wholesale.  Obviously that would make a series in itself and wouldn’t suit the Apprentice at all, so they made a difficult and complex industry into a simplistic buy, buy / sell, sell thing, and it didn’t work at all. If Tre is a better artist’s agent than Fido Dido, I’ll eat my own balls.

Speaking of Tre, once again he provided the only real comedy. This stemmed from the fact that he clearly has a very real problem with women, and more specifically, tits. He took all the pieces by one artist who apparently made work based around the ocean and the body against the wall, owing to the fact that it displayed a crab’s claw gripping a large breast’s nipple. His reasoning behind this? ‘I don’t wanna look at no tit-eating fish’.

A crab is not a fish, Tre. You fucking bozo.

My favourite moment last night was upper-upper class twit Paul ringing around to arrange guests for the viewing. “Hi, yah, I’m calling from a company called Stealth. Ya – Stealth. Ya – Stealth as in ‘Stealth Bomber'”. If someone that posh called me up and said that, I would assume that either the MOD were on to me for some reason and wanted to splash my guts onto concrete, or I’d have thought I was subject to a wind-up. Posh people are so amusing sometimes. And so rich, the bastards.

Adam, in his defence after the debacle of last week, has made back some ground after selling well and sticking to his principles. I reckon he’ll be in the final three. But it’s not worth a gamble – this programme is so unpredictable that I’d be wasting my hard-earned. I also enjoyed the entirely unnecessary shot of Naomi‘s bottom as she was massaged at a spa, as I’m sure a million teenage boys enjoyed it throughout the country.

Finally – what’s happened to Jadine? She was almost entirely edited out of this week’s edition. Maybe she made herself nauseous and had an off day.

Superstorm

April 25, 2007

Superstorm 

The story so far …

The world’s fucked. The weather, bastard son of a whore that it is, is getting more ferocious with each passing year, threatening to wipe places like Miami, Cuba and the Bahamas off the map. Something needs to be done to avert financial disaster and the Americans have a plan …

Tom Sizemore, the wife-beating drunk you might have last seen coked up to the eyeballs fucking a tart in a porno movie, gets together an elite team of weather experts under the umbrella of ‘Operation Storm Shield’. The operation’s mandate is to change the weather using science and thus save Disneyworld – land of fat people and cancerous children in big baseball caps – from certain destruction. Sizemore’s team are:

  • That woman who got it on, lesbian-fashion, with Beth Jordache in Brookside.
  • A big blonde man who looks a bit like that chap from Thank You For Smoking.
  • A token Asian man.
  • A man with the cheesiest grin in the whole history of cheesy grins.
  • A young bloke with a goatee beard and glasses.
  • A woman who’s good with computers and who may or may not be ‘good with colours’ (if you know what I’m saying).

So … the team assembles to tackle the hurricane that’s heading Miami’s way. The woman from Brookside’s speciality is ‘storm-seeding’ – which appears to be firing parachutes full of something I didn’t understand into the storm whilst flying through it. She decides to give storm-seeding a whirl on a lesser hurricane and it all goes tits-up, killing the young bloke with the goatee beard in the process after his plane falls prey to wind. Much glumness ensues.

Next up to the crease are big blonde man and his token Asian assistant. They’re charged with diverting a hurricane called Grace away from Florida and out back into the Atlantic. Their plan is to fly B52 bombers into the clouds above the Pacific and fire carbon at them. This will apparently create a weather system that will travel across the States and slam into Grace, turning her away from the mainland. How it gets from the Pacific to the Atlantic I couldn’t tell you … really big fans maybe?

Anyway. cheesy grin man discovers that if this new weather front diverts Grace, it will put her in the path of a newly-developing tropical storm coming in from the south. This, apparently, is a bad thing as Grace will absorb the aforementioned storm and become a big-assed superstorm. The team tries to tell Sizemore about all this but he’s not interested … this is a man who was shot in the arse during World War II, don’t forget, so he’s hardly likely to listen to the whinings of a few geeks.

The team all resign and Sizemore goes ahead and authorises the bombers to fire off their carbon behind their backs. The Pacific storm develops and floods the living daylights out of Louisiana and Mississippi on it’s way to the Atlantic. Blonde man rings cheesy man (who is shagging an old woman) and tells him it’s all gone belly-up. The team get together and work out the new superstorm Sizemore’s inadvertently created is heading for New York. And we all know what that means now they’ve invented CGI, don’t we fucking just?

Superstorm isn’t half bad. In fact, for a Sunday night drama, it makes a nice change to have a bit of tension instead of the duvet-like qualities of Monarch of the Glen, Ballykissangel or Heartbeat. I don’t think it’s going to win any awards (unless they invent an award for ‘Best Weather-Related Sunday Night BBC Drama’ … and I can’t see that, can you?), but as a piece of throwaway entertainment, it suits that Sunday night vibe down to the ground. Recommended if you don’t want to give your brain the strain.

Super-Skinny Me: The Race To Size Zero

April 24, 2007

Skinny 

Chubbiness seems to be a big issue at the moment. Louise out of Eternal was on TV a few weeks back, along with with her idiot husband, to talk about going to size zero as an experiment. I’m no expert on womens’ clothes sizes so this confused me. I know a size 16 is quite big and I’d hazard a guess that models can fit a size 8 or 10 at a push, so surely a zero is about as thin as a bamboo cane? What’s the point in that? I never got to the truth because I was drunk and the whole thing washed over me.
As I see it, clothes sizes don’t mean anything to me. As far as I know, we chaps couldn’t give two hoots about the size of a ladies jeans, so long as she carries herself with a bit of style, or failing that, a bit of sauce. There are lovely ladies with massive behinds, and equally there are beanpoles who are effortlessly ace. Men are far more accepting of different shapes and sizes than ladies are led to believe, in my experience. Unless they are FHM or Loaded-reading men, in which case, why would a lady care what they think?

From what I could gather, the likes of Lionel Richie’s offspring are size double zero. Have you seen the state of her? Why is she a benchmark for slimmers? Surely she’s a brittle-boned warning?

Sunday night saw Superskinny Me: The Race To Size Double Zero transmitted on Channel 4, so a chance for me to catch up on what the devil all this nonsense is about. Two female journalists, Kate Spicer and Louise Burke, underwent strict dieting and workout regimes in order to see just how tough it would be to achieve this size zero look.

As they underwent the experiments themselves rather than interviewing genuine anorexics and bulimics, I found their methods somewhat cheap. Supersize Me (which this was clearly based on – have a look at that title) was an amusing documentary in that it used the daily munching of McDonalds not as its focus, but as an alarmingly funny way of holding viewer-interest whilst Spurlock gave us the lowdown on the crap McD’s put into their food and the the way they pump cash out of consumers. The food regime element was just a spine running throughout, to give us a bit of puke-action among the stats. As was his ridiculous moustache.

Superskinny Me missed this point and neglected to give us any factual information whatsoever, apart from a handful of moments in a Doctors surgery where the two journos were scolded by the medics, which was a direct copy of Spurlock’s formula. We learned a little about the methods used to acheive weightloss – too many colonics, no food, lots of water based ‘meals’ – but we didn’t learn who was responsible for making this tripe seem like a valid and healthy way to lose weight. There were no culprits to blame for inflicting this culture of starvation on its prey. No doctors, dieticians, Hollywood agents, models, bogus nutritionists… and it was all the more annoying for that lack of knowledge.

What we ended up with, after this paucity of information, was two priviledged, Chelsea based journalists moaning about how hungry they were. Burke was bubbly but slightly dim. If you ‘eat’ only water for a day you’re likely to go thin, so stop moaning about and lazing in bed complaining of a dicky tummy. As for Spicer, she was an ex-boarding school annoyance, relentlessly pursuing her story and having a great time flashing cleavage and skinny legs throughout.

I’m not sure exactly what they were trying to achieve. They tried diets and detoxes which were clearly going to make them ill, and they acted like martyrs when the sickness struck. It was hard to elicit any sympathy whatsoever, especially when they actually seemed to be enjoying the weight loss. Upon finally squeezing into a size double zero pair of jeans, Louise was clearly delighted. It became suspiciously clear that the ladies were beginning to enjoy their weight loss and new look. The aim was possibly to prove that weight-loss is addictive, but to me this stank more of two journalists who wanted a decent story abusing themselves to try and get it – and happy accident – they lose some weight into the bargain.

This is surely a deeply stupid way to try and make a point, not least because teenage girls without the Sloane Square apartment and network of shrinks on hand are clearly going to absorb these methods of self-sabotage and run with them. Brilliant. Well done ladies, you’ve just made the situation worse. I wonder how much you got paid?

The only real way to end the show would’ve been watching the two drip-fed girls in their hospital beds, actually perishing from starvation, rather than having a paid-for holiday in the dark side of diet. An enforced food-tube direct to the gut might be a bit more trying than a morning without solid food, so stop whingeing, you bloody idiots.

Sweet Baby James

April 23, 2007

James Martin 

Aren’t there enough celebrity TV chefs in the world? Ainsley Harriot, Delia smith, Gordon Ramsey, Gary Rhodes, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Anthony Worrall-Thompson, the list goes excruciatingly on.

Among the population of TV cooking arses, there stirs James Martin, of ‘Sweet Baby James’ on BBC 2.

As much as I don’t like Ainsley Harriot, at least he’s passionate. At least Ramsey swears. At least Worrall-Thompson is untrustworthy. At least Oliver has a speech impediment. Martin has no outstanding features whatsoever other than that he could be described as a fairly tall man.

This episode sees Martin return to his old secondary school to perform a food-based facelift on the canteen menu. A highly original idea other than the fact that Jamie Oliver did it yonks ago. Besides which, Oliver clearly already has his grubby mitts all over the whole school dinners issue.

In fact, Martin is like a no-frills charisma-less Jamie Oliver in more ways than one, which is saying something as Oliver himself is as bland as post-modern architecture.

While working out the point of Martin, it is difficult to avoid drawing certain comparisons. I couldn’t help thinking of him as the kind of cooking equivalent of Steve Leonard (The boring nature-twat). Leonard’s programmes frustrate me because he seems to think that his blank face is as interesting to the viewers as the wildlife he is meant to be exploring. Martin is guilty of the same. If I tuned in merely to learn some cooking tips I would be disappointed as ¾ of the programme is just Martin poncing about like the self indulgent bore-monger he patently is.

He also seems to be the masculine interpretation of Nigella Lawson (at least she has colossal thighs) in TV’s bid to present food as ‘sexy’.

I say this because Martin clearly fancies himself as quite the ladies choice. The start of the show sees him roll up to his old headmaster’s house in a sports car. I couldn’t tell you which type – cars bore me – but the point is that he seems to be eagerly putting himself forward as some type of TV lothario. The style of the shows production also betrays the programme-maker’s intentions to drum home the ‘food is sexy, honest!’ concept. The editing is sleek and vigorous and furnished with a funk/soul soundtrack giving the impression that food preparation qualifies as sexy action, with Martin being clumsily misplaced within as some sort of culinary action-man.

Let’s get this straight now – food is not sexy, and food is not art. I plan to eat it and shit it, not fuck it or frame it.

James Martin has been around for a while, but what is all this ‘Sweet baby James’ bullshit out of the clear blue sky? I can only think that it is a sickly and transparent attempt to endear an audience to a man who is the pinnacle of TV dreariness. He has no wit whatsoever and is merely a drone who can cook a bit.

The thoroughly tedious nature of the show is reinforced by a sequence late on in which he teaches a bunch of yuppie-types how to cook a crumble. How quaint. How extremely mind-numbing.

“It’s all in the marshmallows mate!” seemed to be his wittiest quip in the whole show. Laughing yet? Me neither. I do understand that he’s not a comedian, but where is the justification in his existence as yet another TV chef? Entertain me dammit!

He is simply a non-entity. He brings nothing new to the table, other than his claims to be a sweet baby who drives around in a sports car.

So why doesn’t he find his own niche? Perhaps cooking with drugs, or how to introduce untraceable poisons into a dish in order to get away with a murder?

That, I would watch enthusiastically…

Secret Life

April 20, 2007

Matthew Macfadyen 

Secret Life on Channel 4 last night took on paedophilia, or rather the story of a recently released paedophile trying to adjust to freedom. Matthew Macfadyen took the lead in this festival of laughs, a ‘brave’ role for a relatively young actor more suited to being Darcy or some bit of fluff in BBC dramas. I say ‘brave’ because anyone who is familiar with the tabloids in the UK will be aware that even saying the word ‘paedophile’ is akin to dropping one’s trousers and waving an engorged member in the face of baby Jesus.

It was a grim affair; like watching Oranges are not the Only Fruit with Ebola. Largely, one was sympathetic to the character, though of course one tried not to be for fear of Daily Mail readers beating the door down to the flat and hacking off my bag with a shard of pottery. Turns out the character (that’s the character, not me, I only like women over the age of 45) had been abused by his father (grew up happily in Surrey, I saw the very top of my dad’s knob once and that was only because he’s forgotten to lock the toilet door when he was having a plop) and had subsequently gone on to do the same to little girls.

The movie gently rambled off with his day-to-day comings and goings, counselling sessions, signing the sex offenders’ register, working in a garden (why is it when they portray oddballs, they always seem to work in fucking gardens?) and occasionally getting chased, Keystone Cops style, by Daily Mail-reading skinheads. I found that part shit by the way, it simply didn’t work but it lead up to the inevitable crowd of chanting Daily Mail readers with placards once they’d discovered that a house on their street was a refuge for paedos and, as it turned out, asylum seekers. The chanting Daily Mail readers weren’t fussed about the asylum seekers largely, I should imagine, as they were unaware they were there. Had they known then the programme would’ve ended right there in a fucking huge fireball with the emergency services attempting to break through a cordon of thousands of Daily Mail readers all tooled up with croquet hammers and garden Boules.

It was desperate viewing; needless to say I assume some basic research on the part of the filmmakers had been carried out to the point that the character’s story is fairly typical of sex offender’s lives following a spell in the nick? Sadly, the filmmakers were unable to prevent themselves from capping the once quite sedate pace and plot with a sensationalist twist, that in my opinion, undermined all the adequate work they’d done up until that point.

After being effectively driven out of his dwellings the character (not me, I was at home watching this with a scotch) happened across a funfair. Previously we’d seen him doing everything he could to avoid any contact with kids at all in order to avoid the temptation to reoffend. Having been let down by society, he was now doing everything he could to re-offend. In a frankly idiotic scene at the fair he attempts to seduce a 12-year-old girl (played by a very short 32 year old) and the whole thing was as convincing as David Hasselhoff playing the Dane. Anyway, he controls his urges and walks her home without so much as a tickle (though she kissed HIM, THE FUCKING SLATTERN)

He then nips back home and hangs himself, the end. Really it was that ludicrous, which was a shame as I thought MacFadyen was jolly good in his role. He managed to balance empathy and threat with conviction and for once the filmmakers had managed to get the fucking light right throughout.

Oh, a bit of advice for Daily Mail reading skinheads: If you really want to catch a nonce, screeching to a halt in a car 10 yards from where he’s standing and screaming, ‘there he is, get him’ isn’t the best course of action.

The Apprentice, Series 3, Episode 4

April 19, 2007

 Big Al

I missed last week’s episode due to a family member selfishly having their birthday on a Wednesday. Obviously I downloaded it and watched it the next day like the pointless, desperate little square-eyed tit that I am. It wasn’t a very good one though. But it was redeemed by the fact that Gerrie left.

It might seem odd to draw parallels between The Apprentice and The Twilight Zone, but it’s been years since I’ve watched a show where I’ve genuinely not known what the outcome will be until the final couple of minutes. When the synth used to start warbling at the end of the Zone a chill used to run down my spine. When Sugar said ‘you’re fired’ last night I came over all nauseous as I looked at my missus with a ‘blimey’ face, realising I’d just watched the most hopeless human beings in England toss around in a zoo aimlessly for an hour, to the detriment of my intellect. The fact is, so many monumental mistakes are made so regularly that it’s quite tough to figure out who’ll walk. Half of them (at least) deserve to go.

In the event it was Sophie the Quantum Physicist who left the boardroom a loser, due to the fact, it seems, that she’s a Quantum Physicist. Fair enough, Big Al has no real use for a clever scientist, and Sophie really has nothing to offer the corporare world of a mediocre, Essex-based business, but when such mind-blowing errors of judgement were made throughout the day, it’s not very cathartic to watch someone walk because they weren’t cut out for the job in the first place. I want to see people shoved out for idiocy and brainlessness. In the event, the first few firings are inevitably for these reasons, and sometimes in a different order:

1.) Hapless
2.) Too posh
3.) Doesn’t want to be here
4.) Not qualified or overqualified

This means that the characters who have a few likeable traits tend to leave first. Sophie last night admitted that The Apprentice was her first taste of the corporate world, and after experiencing it, it would probably be her last. Good for her – but why did she even bother in the first place? She must have seen series one and two?

Last night the challenge was to make sweets and sell them. This led to Adam‘s team making ‘Natural Orange Lollies’. Natural in this case meaning they had seven sets of e-numbers in them. I’m not the greatest lateral thinker and I’ve been told several times that my common sense is virtually non-existent. There was that time I tried to clean a blender with only my bare hands and a bit of fairy liquid for example. But even I would know that ‘natural’ means natural and not pumped up with glucose, additives, preservatives and e-numbers which have been proved to send kids momentarily mental. Marketing that was always going to be tough. Adam was fucked from the get-go.

But only by a tenner as it turns out. Ghazal hilariously got knackered and stopped making her monkey lollies around the 150 mark. If she’d have made the full batch she’d have run away with the win, impressed Sugary Alan and never had to worry about being Project Manager again. She clearly thought good TV was more important than her chances of winning and so gave us a hissy fit to titter at. She’s a good old sport. And her monkey lollies actually looked edible, which is more than can be said for Adam’s hardened sugar-crap. I can’t put it any better than big Al who dubbed it ‘childs’ vomit in araldite’. Genius wordplay, I thought.

The laugh out loud moment last night came with the line: ‘Tre has decided to market lollies directly to fat people’. Love him or despise him, he’s bloody good value.

A couple of final thoughts – it’s ace at the beginning when we have an infuriated Sugar ranting, specifically the line ‘YOU LOST ME MONEY’. I like to imagine he’s saying ‘me’ as a common way of saying ‘my’. As in ‘oooh, you’ve lost all me money, you silly sod!’

It makes him seem more human, somehow. 

And finally, Fido Dido is REALLY annoying me with snide, offside comments. Keep an eye on her. I’m praying she fucks up in a big way and gets booted back to obscurity with a particularly hefty impact.