Posts Tagged ‘Simon’

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 4

April 17, 2008

Christ. Well I wasn’t expecting that? Were you?

A major twist this week, of which more later. It’s interesting how this reality show is allowed (by us) to have a clearly fabricated narrative, editing that would’ve done Goebbels proud, a plot conjured out of thin air and a twist every episode. It’s so transparent that the whole thing is completely contrived, but we allow them to get away with it. I’m not sure why… the programme really is a waste of an hour. But for some reason it’s an unmissable waste of time. Peculiar.

So the phone goes, as usual, and Claire – a key performer this week – answers it in a big white, dressing gown that makes her look like she weighs 21 stone. Raef surfaces from bed with that carefully constructed hair lattice all askew, rubbing his sleepy little reptilian eyes before treating us to a shot of his left nip as he showers. One for the ladies.

Surrounded by some lovely paintings which Piqued would probably be able to bore you to death about, the contestants wait for Alan, dressed up to the nines. Alan – for he is now just plain old ‘Alan’ to me, after Simon burst his knighthood bubble last week – emerges to a 70s bongo fury soundtrack, making him resemble a withered Bee Gee crossed with a wasp. Or literally a ‘bee’ Gee.

You’re gonna be doing some photography in Bluewater, Alan instructs. ‘YES!’ mouths Simon, aware that he’s got to be Project Manager this time round, to save face. Boys and girls are mixed up for the first time this series, and on the face of it Simon has by far the better team – Alex, Claire, Jenny and Sara (lovely Sara). Helene ends up leader of the other team after some discussion and her team looks hopeless. Kevin, Raef, Lindi – all of them protrayed as buffoons in recent weeks.

When deciding on Project Manager Simon immediately jumped to the front of the queue – he knows photography and he knows Essex, right? But, when tempted to mock the people of Essex he states he would never ‘degenerate’ his own people. Which is good. He gets the job and asks Alex to be his right hand man. Alex dithers, aware that it’s a shortcut to the boardroom should they fail. At this point, cyborg faced Alex inadvertantly disrupted the whole effort, broke all confidence in Simon and ruined their chances. An immense lack of confidence that everyone else picked up on – most notably Claire who became this week’s hate-figure. They lost, if you hadn’t guessed by now.

Luckily the other team (I refuse to call them ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Alpha’ as they’re such terrible names) had Kevin on board. He wanted to SELL. He wanted to be out there ‘nailing it’. He likes nailing things. Also lucky that this team had Helene as team leader as she’s ‘got balls’ and she gets ‘pissed off’ easily. Ooer. She’s quite a horrific character – all boggly-eyed ferocity, blunt insults and faux-exasperation.

Simon chose Glamour and Beauty as his theme. Helene went for a lookalike Davey Beckham and ploughed money into a football theme – England shirts, terrace backdrop – the works. All good, but bloody expensive, so they made a poxy return, just shy of 200 quid.

I’m not sure if we were meant to believe that they’d set up the lookalike auditions. It was incredibly fabricated, but did give us the chance to laugh at what George Clooney might look like if he only ate doughnuts and Britney if she’d stayed off the drugs and moved to Surrey. As the auditions went on, Simon went to the same prop warehouse used every series and bought a few red sheets and a sofa whilst consistently asking his team to trust him, every five minutes, whilst on the verge of tears, smile wibbling on his face like a dodgy tightrope. Particularly enjoyed the scene where Simon called Claire and when she answered, said ‘hello’ as though he had received the call rather than made it. ‘Erm… Simon – you called us’. We’ve all done it. Well – I have.

After a night’s kip it was off to Bluewater.

Both teams were rubbish. Helene charged more and that probably won her the task. She was assisted in gaining victory by Alex and Claire spending the entire time complaining in the back room – making Simon’s job impossible, his face quivering and his forehead sweating all over the shop floor. Also out at the front selling rubbish photos were Sara, Jenny, Kevin, Lindi and LEE MCQUEEN. The latter was made to look vaguely human. He interacted with a child without using his stormtrooper fists to tear it limb from limb. Kevin nailed nothing, Jenny moaned and Lindi stood there looking pretty.

Out the back where the photos were developed was where everything went wrong for both teams. Helene battled with the skinless Lucinda over IT issues neither of them had the ability to resolve, whilst Raef managed to print a mug upside down with a comical ‘oh deeeeear’. And all of this with a disgruntled Dave Beckham looking on.

As I type, I realise that Jennifer – the Irish bob girl – didn’t feature at all last night. Was she even on camera? How is this allowed to happen?

In Simon’s squadron, Alex spent his time taking the piss out of the proles in the photos, telling Claire why he couldn’t do as Simon asked. Claire was meant to relay why errors were being made, which she patently did not do.

But she wasn’t fired at the end. Simon was. Fair enough, they made a loss – but there was a reason for that, and the reason was Claire. So another nasty, foul-tempered twat gets the nod ahead of someone who’s willing but just a bit feckless. It’s so unfair. It doesn’t seem right.

It’s the way the world works. Get used to it. This is business, alright?

 

Addendum 1: Sugar singing ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda…’ – is he a secret fan of Beverley Knight?

Addendum 2: Simon, in his exit interview, mentioned that he honestly ‘gave it 100%’. And that was his major failing. EVERYONE knows you have to give it at least 110% percent, otherwise the maths make sense and you’ve no hope of winning…

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

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The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 3

April 10, 2008

Straight into week three and we kicked off with a reminder of Shazia’s unfair exit. We sat through the trauma once again as Shazia whimpered the word ‘please’, just before getting booted. And then it’s on to Tate Modern for the briefing. They’re going to run out of London landmarks soon. By series six Sugar will be asking them to rendezvous outside the Holborn Wetherspoons, six a.m. sharp.

The task is to transform a London boozer – Upper Street in Islington and Hampstead are the locations, so hardly spit and sawdust locals – into a credible gastropub. Or at least into a pub that serves food.

By my reckoning, that’s actually a pretty simple thing to do. Usually I balk at the Sugar-suggestion at this stage, wondering how the hell I’d cope, certain I’d make as many elementary mistakes as the preening pricks lining up for the bum-job. This time, however, I actually thought ‘easy’. They had a kitchen ready to go, a chef waiting to be utilised and a restaurant ready to be filled. All they had to do was sit down for a couple of hours, decide what food would suit the area (food they could actually cook), work out how much everything would cost and how much, as a result, they could sell it for. Pretty basic stuff.

Instead and as usual, both teams ran straight out of the door, barking rubbish into blackberries and making shit up as they went along. The insufferable goons.

Led by Ian Stringy Stringer, the boys’ period of research and planning seemed only to involve a lot of guarantees and pledges that they would work hard (Raef winning the ‘first to say 110% percent’ competition this week) and deciding they’d do Italian food. The girls, led by the sweary-mouthed Sara argued about what theme to follow. Someone idioticly bellowed ‘Let’s have a murder-mystery night!’ (in a pub?!) whilst Sara wanted a Bollywood theme whilst Claire wanted English fare. Sara won as she was Team Leader. Sara won because she has the dead-eyed gaze of the living dead and the ability to repeat herself until all around her wilt and perish. Sara, for some reason, is very attractive – against all the odds.

A key failing on Ian The Stringboy Stringer’s part was the appointment of Kevin as Head Chef. It came to light that this was a tactic by which he could transfer all blame to the Somerset George Dawes should things conspire to go wrong – which they did, thank God. If they hadn’t – where’d be the fun in that?

Kevin was asked to lead a chat on what food they were going to make as he’d declared his expertise on Italian cuisine earlier – apparently he eats in ‘a lot of Italian restaurants in Guildford’. His speech on what menu he fancied working on was a kind of confused stream, listing vaguely intelligible food processes. Watching him stumble over terms he’d seen on the cooking channel was the highlight of the show for me. ‘We take a mushroom. Then we bake it’ he said, not unreasonably. ‘Then we put some salt and pepper on it’ he continued before completely losing his train of thought, ‘and then we puree it’… This carried on for some time, until the baked, pureed mushroom had been flambeed, whipped and crumbled over fruits of the forest. Kevin, by this point, had proved himself to be either a very convincing actor or the greatest example of incompetence since Eddie The fucking Eagle. What’re we making for dessert Kevin? A latte with chocolate sprinkles. Mmmmm! Fetch me a spoon!

These scenes were interspersed with Lee having the most working class nervous breakdown ever seen onscreen. ‘I am concerned!’ he yelled into his mobile at one point. ‘LEE MCQUEEN IS CONCERNED!’. Within the gap between two sentences we watched him disassociate himself and plant his ego a few yards from his id, lapsing into third person in the process. ‘Dunno how to spell ‘accent” he said at one point, the big Nazi-faced thicko.

Sara wandered around in a sort of stoned, glazed wilderness of her own making as the other girls pulled together to make her curry night happen. She bought spices for the curry in minute quantities – I have more in my kitchen than she’d bought to feed at least a hundred people. Luckily her charges did the work for her and though her night was a bit of a shambolic mess – the Bollywood dancer being a particularly David Lynch-like lowlight – they made loads of money. This rested on the fact that Jennifer (the Irish one, not the redhead) had charged a fiver for entry. Profit before the doors had opened. Success. Jennifer is one to watch.

Meanwhile, the boys ended up being led by nobody. Ian turned into an empty shed, devoid of ideas or emotion, Raef hid in the shadows, Alex did what he could, Simon searched for answers from his boss and found himself in Ian’s pretty-boy dead end, facing disaster. Sophocles made his customary George Costanzaesque mistakes and got away with it. LEE MCQUEEN was concerned and continued to shout, his words forming a white noise it was quite easy to ignore. And Kevin, poor little Kevvy boy with his Westcountry accent and unrequested Head Chef role, had to do something. He made revolting food, gave a David Brentesque pep talk out of nowhere and, bless his heart, he tried. The fact that Ian Stringy Stringboy didn’t grab him by his neck and tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP is the Stringy man’s problem.

Kevin tried, he failed, but at least he gave it a go. And that’s what resulted in Ian getting fired. He did absolutelty dick all apart from worry about his hair straighteners. Maybe he’s thick. Maybe he was just overwhelmed by the situation. Either way, Sugar sent him on his way and was justified in doing so.

The boardoom was fun. Simon was pretty much exonerated, Kevin was entirely unconvincing when talking up his progress and Ian sat there denying everything he’d done wrong.

Simon was dragged into the final three, which was baffling. So shocked was he that he made the amusing error of calling ‘Sir Alan’ the more familiar ‘Alan’, before realising his mistake and lifting his hand to his mouth, as if to say ‘Sorry Sir’ like a little boy. Quite endearing, really.

Instead of forming an argument and sticking to it, Ian simply denied everything. He denied that Kevin had given a pep talk (surely he knew Sugar had seen the footage?) and he might as well have denied the fact he existed. He was appalling under scrutiny, and it’s the boardroom where you have to be convincing. Forget the actual task, if you can’t cradle your balls against a counter attack in front of the bearded fat-cat, it’s the highway for you. And off he popped, without fanfare, back into anonymity.

Upon their return to the house, young Kevin shouted ‘Booyaka!’, delightfully using a very 90s term to express his happiness. ‘I totally nailed Ian in there’ he declared, as all around him looked on in stunned disbelief.

Noted for their absence, for a lack of footage around week three equals likely progress later on, were Raef and Alex. Neither said anything of any real consequence, Raef sat about looking other-worldly and Alex wore a stupid hip-hop hat at the end. They’re going to be key players later on and I can’t wait to see them fail, fail and fail again. That’s what it’s all about, after all.

The Orphanage

April 7, 2008

Tomas

Warning – probably contains very slight spoilers that would irritate someone as sensitive as I am to them (despite the fact I’ve tried to eradicate them where possible and don’t want to spoil it for anyone).

Glaring plot-holes abound in this moderately entertaining but not-quite-horrific-enough-to-be-called-a-horror movie. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this was always going to be better than your average heebie-jeebie unsettler – but first time Director J. A. Bayona doesn’t seem to have read his own script through properly, as several scratch-your-head issues aren’t cleared up come the credits.

I watched those gasbags on Newsnight Review going on about how this was a meditation on maternal and paternal fears and discussing how it really gave them the jitters. Apparently the idea of being separated from your child is a concept Mark Kermode, an Evening Standard editor and the host bloke who’s not as good as Kirsty Wark can’t stomach. Well I haven’t got any kids, so I actually felt the adopted parents of Simon were bloody lucky to have got shot of the little swine. He looked exactly like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years – and the similarity was completely distracting for the casual viewer. I can’t imagine what it must have been like having to look after the poor sod with that hanging around his neck.

The plotting problems kick in late on in the picture, which is annoying, as up to then everything’s set up for a cracking finale. Creeping unease and nasty indications of what’s to come crop up when Tomas – a nasty little bag-headed ghost – shows up intermittently and a very upsetting incident occurs in town – of which I’ll say no more. But we could’ve done with more of that-type-of-thing. It left unshiftable skids on my Y fronts.

And so to the glaring plot-holes. I’m going resolutely spoiler-free with this review so I’ll not be specific but – when the climax starts unravelling – if you’re an active observer rather than the sort of cinema-goer who swallows everything they see like so much sugared, overpriced popcorn, you’ll be turning to others and saying ‘Now hang on a minute…’ as three or four clear errors aren’t addressed in favour of a schmaltzy (if slightly morbid) ending.

Interestingly, Kermode was asked by a listener to Simon Mayo’s radio show about one of these inconsistencies (the wallpaper one) and his response was along the lines of ‘I’ll email the enquirer to tell them, but I shan’t say as it’ll ruin the film for others’. Well, Kermode: I don’t believe you can explain it as it doesn’t make any sense. Feel free to mail WWM and tell me why I’m wrong.

Still – worth seeing. And apologies if my tentative dance around plot details has spilled into spoiler territory. I’m glad I don’t do this for a living, it’s like working on a knife edge between being a cultural observer and a spoilsport shitbag.

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 2

April 3, 2008

Apprentice Launderette

Ever been to a launderette?

I have. So I have a pretty clear idea of how much it costs to wash clothes.

None of the girls last night can ever have frequented a washroom or a dry cleaners, as when tasked with pitching business to a hotel chain they saw fit to charge £4.99 per item. So 1,000 items of bedding could be washed and ironed for the bargain-rate price of £5,000. This really was shake-head-in-disbelief stuff. How could that figure have been agreed? Was it that these girls have never had to wash their dirty linen in public? Or was it a case of one voice shouting louder than the others and the rest of the troupe following blindly and obediently?

The latter, you have to say, when you consider that the girl’s Project Manager for this totally shambolic episode was Jenny. Good God – what an abomination this redheaded, tube-faced monster is. We should have seen it coming when she squeaked ‘I just love sales!’ with a giggle of perversion (like she was sitting on a washing machine, aptly enough) in her week one vox pop. She’s this year’s Saira Khan but with none of the charm or bewildering attractive qualities. She’s this year’s Jo – (remember that insane Tigger contestant last year?) but with none of the slightly lunatic joie de vivre. In short – she’s terrifying.

The boys were ‘led’ by Raef. His leadership strategy involved splitting the chaps into the two camps he complained had developed last week and making the jocks do the hard work whilst the nerds strolled around town fixing their cufflinks and checking their reflections in shop windows. I’m no fan of Alex, Ian, Lee and Simon, but at least they get their hands dirty (for evidence, see Simon spiritedly battering that fishhead last week). They were destined to win – so Raef stays in for at least another week despite clearly being eventual Yer Fired-fodder.

Jennifer, oh Jenny. Where to begin? The girl’s made so many ludicrous errors last night that it’s tempting to think they were doing it for a laugh – or getting a fiver from the cameraman per mistake. So error number one was, as with last week, not considering that if you’re going to sell something, you have to work out the right mark-up. Blindly trying to sell something without considering its value is just beyond belief. After the £5,000 laundry shocker, they went to their next client and offered to wash, dry and iron his massive pile of shop-soiled smocks for a tenner. One twisted extreme to another.

As they wobbled along the valley of disasters, they left the actual nitty-gritty of actually doing the laundry to the very last minute. With huge piles of clothes sorted by Shazia, they set to work and realised they needed more irons and equipment, so went back to the house to pick up spares – only to find the boys had nicked everything they needed earlier in the day. From that point, they were doomed. The boys seemed to go from strength-to-strength while the girls added insult to their own festering injuries.

Trying to enforce tips? What the fuck? Beyond bolshy bellboys hanging around a bit too long, I’ve never heard of anything like it. Imagine a waitress talking in depth about the tip they expect to receive after serving you a mediocre salad. It’s not on, is it? Now imagine that salad’s got certain elements missing, like dressing, croutons and vegetables. For that is what happened – the girls lost clothes.

Jenny somehow pinned the blame on Shazia – saying she upped and left having only labelled some of the clothes. From where I was sitting (and admittedly I was pretty pissed up) I thought Jenny had ordered her to go with her. I could be wrong.

At one point in the catalogue of rubbishness, Jenny actually made Lucinda cry. Actual tears…  I’ve had managers who’ve made me angry, managers who’ve made me punch inanimate objects out of sheer frustration and managers who’ve left me so washed out and overworked that I’ve stared into space for hours. But making your employees cry? That takes a special kind of graceless idiocy.

So how did Jenny survive the boardroom? Why did Shazia go? I was particularly pissed off about this as I picked Shazia in an office sweepstake. I was robbed!

The reason is, once again, ‘good telly’. Jenny will continue to writhe in her own two-dimensional villain status for the next couple of weeks and we’ll lap it up, criticising the silly cow to make ourselves feel a little bit better about our own offices, colleagues and careers. It becomes more apparent, show upon show, that this is only TV, pure entertainment and not the job interview it professes to be. But who cares?

I don’t.

Episode one