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Dear Torchwood: Miracle Day

Dear Torchwood: Miracle Day, (BBC1, Thursdays @9pm)

Well well well, you’re certainly not a kids show any more are you? Crammed into that very decent opening hour you had kiddy fiddlers being put to, well not death, but made to shake a bit by being given a lethal injection.

The kids hadn't been this scared since unwittingly agreeing to join Gary Glitters 'secret' gang

Well, not lethal, but unpleasant without causing any lasting damage. Any way, you had all that then you had naughty words being used – which is very grown up – and a bit that you borrowed from The Terminator where the torched body still has movement and that bit you took from Final Destination where a highly unlikely series of events led to Dr Pratt out of ER getting turned into a kebab. I’m pretty sure there was also some sexy touching in there as well. All things considered the message was well and truly sent out in that first show – “We are not for kids!”

And that’s fine, genuinely. Recent events have told us what kids like: rioting, looting, arson and the occasional murder, so if anything you’d probably be a bit tame for them any way. However the difficulty I’ve had is that as you’ve progressed, as you’ve lumbered along at the speed of a tired tortoise with chronic arthritis dragging a safe up a hill, it’s become more and more apparent that only a child would buy into your ridiculous story. What started as an interesting concept with a few plot holes has quickly deteriorated and is now one giant hole with a few wafer thin wisps of plot drifting across it. To add insult to what might previously have been a life threatening injury you’ve also got a host of characters it’s absolutely impossible to give a shit about because they’re all so awful and, I presume in an earnest attempt to carry some subtext, you’ve become dull. Last weeks episode saw me looking at the clock after ten minutes and wondering if our world had succumbed to ‘the miracle’ because it felt like a genuine lifetime had passed.

The TV shouted "Torchwood, right now" the kids of London misunderstood

You had a good idea for an episode – possibly even a double or triple episode – and you threw money at it and stretched it out until it was ten hours long. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is not a good move. In an effort to help you avoid making the same mistakes again I’ve compiled a list of some of the larger failings of ‘Miracle Day’ it’s not an exhaustive list because I don’t have the ‘gift’ of everlasting life, but it should be enough to start you off. So, starting with the characters:

1) Oswald Danes

One of these men is NOT Bill Paxton

Ooooh, edgy. Yeah, get Hollywood star and former cheese coated President of America Bill “Not Paxton” Pullman to play a demented and unapologetic murderous kiddy fiddler type, and then, here’s the twist, you’re going to love this because it’s so like, you know, unexpected, then you make him like, into a hero, a sort of spokesman for the masses sort of thing. Isn’t that just the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard? Well, quite frankly, no. You see what you’ve done there is taken it that one step too far and taken a giant leap into the utterly implausible. People don’t forgive those who fiddle with or murder children. It doesn’t happen. You murder an adult then there’s some chance that you can be redeemed, you touch a kid and you’re the devil – there was a mass public outrage when Myra Hindley was allowed out of prison on a shopping trip and when rumours spread that James Bulger’s killers (only children themselves at the time) were being considered for parole much of society was disgusted – in short the picture you have painted wouldn’t happen. No way, no how.

You’ve reached, and that’s admirable. You’ve tried to be contentious, and that’s good. You’ve written  storyline that only the most deluded paedophile would allow themselves to believe for the briefest of moments, and that’s just fucking stupid.

2) Oswald Danes

Yes, I know he was point one, but this is a much quicker one, and it’s connected. You haven’t had him do anything that might even come close to aiding him in this highly implausible ressurection of his. It’s all well and good bandying around phrases like “trending on twitter” and “followers on Facebook”, we get it, you’re down with the kids (no mention of MySpace or Bebo though, where’s their love?) but it means bollocks all if you don’t have the character do anything even mildly compelling to prompt this massive sea change. If you’re going to ask us to believe the impossible at least give us something to cling on to – to just presume we’ll go with it is arrogant in the extreme.

3) Dr. Vera Juarez

Now there’s a face you’d never get tired of punching. I know what you were going for, you were aiming for the feisty maverick who’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. You missed. What you ended up with was the irritating bitch who spoke to everyone like they’d personally slighted her and treated everyone like they were incompetent halfwits not worthy of breathing ‘her’ air. I guess I was supposed to care about her, rather than cheer when she got shot (christ, she even got shitty with the bloke who’d just shot her) and holler when she got barbecued.

4) Mekhi Phifer

How did you coax such a poor performance out of such a good actor? Seriously. I mean he’s not even phoning it in, he’s written a note and stuck it to the fridge hoping we’ll read it when we get in.

5) Esther Drummond

Again, a character I’m sure I’m supposed to be sympathetic towards, but I find myself wanting to scream at practically every time she opens her mouth. Is she the wettest character ever to appear on grown up TV? She might

Esther was distraught to hear that the rats she'd called the council about had been killed

be. My favourite bit was where she seemed not only devastated but genuinely shocked when she heard that her niece and nephew had been taken away from her sister, whose been taken for psychological evaluation and put into care. I agree that this all sounds quite harrowing, but there are a finite number of things that can happen when you call the authorities telling them you fear for your niece and nephews safety because you think your sister might have gone bonkers – and this is top of the list. Swinging wildly between confident and terrified, competent and useless Esther isn’t a character as such, merely an entity with a script, an afterthought or an amalgamation of many characters the budget simply didn’t accommodate.

Now that we’ve dealt with the biggest character problems let’s have a quick look at those giant plot holes shall we? Okay:

1) Security

The world, the whole world mind, is in crisis and  yet it’s easy enough for people to walk around the most closely guarded places on the planet unhindered. No disguises, not even a costume change – Harkness doesn’t even have to take off his coat – come in, have a wander, rummage through our files, try to take your dad home. It’s all fine. Come off it. I have to provide two forms of ID to join Blockbuster but Rhys ‘Gwen’s Husband’ Williams who must be on any number of security forces watch lists and who was, let’s not forget, in hiding in the back of beyond when this all began, can get a job in a secure area that starts that day. Yes. Very good.

2) Travel

Cholera is rife, tuberculosis is spreading, typhoid and the plague are on the way, but we wouldn’t want to make it difficult for people to travel now would we? Come on Torchwood, come on Russell, that’s just plain lazy. You know as well as I do that way before it reached this point all air traffic would have been grounded in an attempt to stop the spread of these (and worse) diseases – ah, but that would have made it really hard for the irritating Juarez to get down to California or for the really very entertaining Gwen to get home to Wales wouldn’t it? Best to keep them flying. Do you know what though, I think I’ve inadvertently stumbled on another problem – assuming the authorities had taken the bizarre decision to allow air travel to continue the airlines would probably be a bit busy don’t you think? Flights booked up for weeks or even months, airports crowded and chaotic as people try to sort their lives out. Nah, that sounds too much like hard work, let’s just have people turn up at the airport and jump on a plane quick sharp.

Dust - this is how you stop international air travel. Take that Ebola virus!

3) Medical Staff

I realise that the scenario painted in Miracle Day is a tricky one – what do you do if nobody dies etc – but I’m pretty sure that what you don’t do is suddenly switch from a compassionate care giver who’s in the business of saving lives to a callous shit basket who seemingly couldn’t give the tiniest little chuff about any human life or the emotions of their loved ones. Strangely though that’s what seems to have happened to all the doctors and nurses of the world in your little drama. They no longer care, and not in a “The situation’s changed, we have to stay detached in order to do our jobs” sort of way, but in a “I really couldn’t give a shit” sort of way that is, once again, implausible.

We can only assume that The Doctor was busy settling some 'unfinished business' in another dimension...

4) The Doctor

Or the absence thereof. Are we really to believe that The Doctor, who has turned up on Earth countless times to investigate relatively piddling little problems that would have probably blown over without too much of a fuss any way, who can’t help but get involved whenever anything even vaguely interesting happens, who is inextricably linked with Harkness and Gwen and Torchwood as well as the rest of humankind, are we really supposed to buy in to the idea that he wouldn’t turn up to see what was going on? We are? Oh, right. You see there’s the problem when you create a universe with rules – you probably need to follow them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he turns up and saves the day, but you’d at least think that Jack might question where he is when he’s so clearly needed and there’s a case that’s so very much his cup of tea. If I, a mere mortal who has neither met The Doctor nor saved the Universe with him, have queried his absence then surely someone who has spent a considerable amount of time with him would do. To not is, guess what? That’s right, implausible.

5) Life

Early on in the series an unconvincing Dr Pratt said something flowery and nonsensical about people having “So much life” or “Being so alive” or some such bollocks. Which is fine. Except they’re not are they? The whole series has become firmly focused precisely on the fact that people are weak and feeble and barely alive at all. In all honesty this is probably the pettiest of my points, but it’s such a huge contradiction that it can’t be ignored. It all adds to the general feeling that the premise of the show is flimsy and ill thought out. I’ll buy into anything if you give me reason to, I love buying into far-fetched stuff – it’s escapism at its finest and I’ve got a lot to escape from – but what have you given me to latch on to? Contradiction and inconsistency – that’s not a sound investment opportunity. It’s implausible and for that reason I’m out.

Well that’s far longer than I anticipated, but this is what happens when you’ve got me riled up.

You didn’t need to take American money and confuse yourself, but you did.

You didn’t need to take ten hours to tell a three-hour story, but you did.

And you didn’t need to add controversy that adds nothing other than an extra layer of implausibility into the mix, but you did.

It’s almost like this ship has several captains and they couldn’t agree on a route so instead they just allowed it to float with the current and, unfortunately, that’s seen you hit some pretty big rocks and now it looks like you’re going to sink. And that’s a shame, it really is.

R

PS – I really like Claire out of Six Feet Under, she’s brilliantly manic.

PPS – I didn’t like the bit with Pratt and his dad, that was utterly pointless.

PPPS – Seriously, no mention of The Doctor? At all? Think about it Russell…

Dear Show Me The Funny

Dear Show Me The Funny, (ITV1, Mondays @9pm)

First of all I’d like to say welcome, and thank you for trying to bring stand-up comedy back to the fore on mainstream British TV, the idea of it is very welcome and it’s so nice to see comedy presented in some way other than a panel show. So yes, thank you for trying. Sincerely. Now on to the multitude of reasons why you’ve already failed.

Enough about the Merengue, did you find the fluffy dice?

You know the bit in Strictly Come Dancing where the contestants go around Cheltenham on a scavenger hunt – desperately scrambling around trying to find a wooden leg, a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat and a rape alarm – and the first team back with all the stuff gets to choose between the Bolero and the Lambada (yes, the Forbidden Dance!)?

You don’t?

"If dreams were wings you know, I would have flown away from you, you bitch"

Well surely you must be familiar with the show ‘A Place in the Sun’ where couples who are desperate to flee Britain seek property abroad hoping to get away from their mentally unstable exes and believing, wrongly, that being in a sunnier climate will somehow rescue them from the misery their sham of a marriage has become? Yes? Excellent. Well you know the bit right at the beginning where there’s three couples and only the pair who manages to give the best performance of Kylie and Jason hit ‘Especially For You’ gets the free trip to Greece where they almost certainly won’t buy any property?

No?

I don’t know what to say. Oh yes, that’s right. You don’t know of these because they’re fictional. You see, for some reason the producers of these incredibly succesful formats have kept things simple. I know, buffoons eh? They’re under the impression that someone tuning into a show called ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is, primarly, interested in seeing what the celebrities are like at dancing, sure they throw a bit of a training montage in there, but the general theme remains on the dancing. Likewise ‘A Place in the Sun’ tends to focus on the properties, with only a small dose of the general dismay at the route of the fleeing couples flight of fancy – there’s quite literally no mention of any of their duetting prowess.

Why am I waffling on about all this you’re probably thinking, well it’s because you lack focus. If you were focused the point I was making would have been obvious about 150 words ago.

Yes, so I tuned in, excited to watch ten working comics fighting tooth and nail to deliver the best five minutes of new material they could muster for their specific audience. “That…” I thought to myself whilst making a pre-broadcast cup of tea (white, one sugar) “…is a strong format. This…” I continued to think, having accidentally poured water from the kettle straight into the sugar bowl because I was thinking too much about your show and, ironically enough, not focusing on the matter in hand “…should be good.” then I stopped thinking and cleared up.

A nice cup of tea - surprisingly easy to mess up.

You can, I’m sure, imagine my surprise when the first part came and went without any stand up whatsoever. Fair enough, or at least it would be if you’d spent any time at all introducing these ten comedians to me (for the sake of accuracy I’m going to presume that I’m the only person in Britain that watched the entire show, so ‘me’ = your audience), but you didn’t do that did you? No, you paired them up and sent them on a series of dull and meaningless fools errands around Liverpool. Don’t get me wrong, if there was a show called “Shitty City Centre Shit Search” I’d Sky+ the bastard faster than you can hilariously say “Are you called Michelle?”, I’m sure that show would be an unending rollercoaster of excitement, lurching from one dull hunt to the next and looping the loop of banality.

There isn’t a show called that. There isn’t a show like that – and do you now why? It’s because even for those doing these ‘tasks’ it’s an exercise in utter futility, a waste of time and energy almost beyond compare. The fact that this shit storm took up the whole first half of the show was, at best, bewildering and at worst a cry for help from the producer. The fact that it was so arse clenchingly bad that I kept jabbing myself with a compass just to make sure I could still feel something – anything – is unforgivable. “When are they going to show the stand up? For God’s sake when?” I found I had carved into my forearm, losing quite a lot of blood in the process.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long for the answer: Never.

Your human senses might not be sensitive enough to detect it, but this is actually the film we saw of Alfie Moore's act

Yes, technically you showed a bit of each of them: An intro from the opening act that clearly was not ‘all new material’; nearly a minute from the pretty woman; the opening line from police officer Alfie (who I’ve seen, and I know is funny) and a few lines here and there from others – some clearly written for this audience, others clearly not – and then a long and painful stint from the Fred and Rose West of comedy (i.e. they spotted comedy on the street, took it home, made it watch whilst they performed unspeakable sex acts on one another, killed it, buried it in the garden, and somehow got away without capture for years) Prince ‘being London-centric is funny, apparently’ Abdi and Ignacio ‘couldn’t gauge the mood at an autopsy’ Lopez. I’d like to say that these two were comfortably the worst, but I don’t know because:

a) I didn’t see enough of the others to make any kind of judgement

b) I actually heard more from Jason ‘can’t believe he used his own twitter account’ Manford, and

c) I’m not prepared to take Alan Davies word for it when it comes to stand-up

So before I knew it the stand-up had come and gone, two we didn’t really see got praised, two we didn’t really see got chastised and marginally the lesser of two evils got given a belt, a stool and was sent back to his cell to ‘have a think’.

That was it. I looked everywhere, fully expecting there to be something more, and found nothing. A whole TV hour about stand-up comedy, featuring 10 of the best ‘undiscovered’ comics in the country and it featured about five minutes of people standing up and telling ‘jokes’. Look in the mirror and tell me that you’re proud of that. Seriously.

Jason Manford (pictured here as the more talented Peter Kay) is surprisingly quite good as a host

ITV have given you a big pot of cash and (I think it’s fair to presume) a pretty blank canvas and said “Go forth, brave Chief Big Talk, and bring me some comedy!” and this stinking, confused pile is what you manage? Pardon my French, but how fucking pathetic is that? You had not only an amazing opportunity, but a responsibility here and you blew them both. Here are your faults and their solutions. It’s nothing insightful, it’s all obvious, and how you managed to miss them is a mystery to me.

Fault – The Tasks – nobody cares. They’re pointless. People did not tune in to this show to see a shitty watered down version of the worst episode of The Apprentice.

Solution – Just let them draw straws to see who goes where. Or take it in turns. Nobody cares. Immediately I’ve freed up about 25 minutes that you could spend letting us get to know the people or, I don’t know, making us laugh.

Judge Alan Davies in his stand-up days

Fault – The ‘Specific’ Audience – this one’s two fold, because firstly we don’t actually get to learn enough about why the comics are going to find it difficult (we get snippets, but that’s not enough) and secondly because it would seem that some of the comics can just choose to ignore the “Write a new 5 minute set” and just regurgitate old stuff.

Solution – Spend some of that extra time with a bit of a tutorial on why audiences are difficult to write for, how routines get written and worked on and so forth. On the second point, any comic who doesn’t show sufficient focus to new material should get a yellow card – three yellows and you leave the process (I went to the Graham Poll school of refereeing)

Fault – The Performances – surely the main point of the show? No, clearly just a minor inconvenience to you, showing – on average – about 20 seconds of each routine.

Solution – Lose all the superfluous crap that litters your show like dog shit pn a football pitch and show more of the routines. Show at least one in it’s entirety and actual highlights (at least a full minute) from each of the others. It’s why we tune in. It’s what we’re interested in. It’s what will have people at home picking their favourites and caring in the slightest about tuning in again. Mores the point it’s what the show is about. Stand up. Comedy. People telling jokes. Jesus, this is simple stuff.

Judge Kate Copstick seems strangely familiar

Fault – Jason Manford – normally this would be followed by some snidey comments about how he annoys me, which he does, but there is no question that on this subject he knows his onions, and his insights on the process were not only interesting and informative but also very welcome. So why have you made nothing of them? Why is he lurking by the stage door like a middle aged Take That fan hoping to stroke Gary’s crotch as he hurries passed?

Solution – It’s a simple thing that you might have heard of, it’s called structure. Throw a VT or two into the show where Jason and/or Alan and possibly even old Chopsticks tells us a few of the tricks of the trades or some of their anecdotes from their many years as professional comedians. That’d be brilliant.

So it’s either do some of that, or change the name of your show to “(We’re Not Going To) Show You The Funny, Here’s Some Pointless Crap Instead”

I deserve better, stand-up deserves better and the nine remaining giant balled bastards who put the very centre of their being on the line every time they get up on that stage? Well they deserve a hell of a lot better than you’re giving them.

Seriously, get your act together.

R

PS – I had a Ploughman’s lunch the other day. He wasn’t very happy. (Tommy Cooper)

 

Dear Odd One In

Dear Odd One In, (ITV1, Saturdays @7.15pm)

Have we met before? I think we have, because I tuned in to you on Saturday for what I believed to be the first time and I recognised almost everything about you. Where is it I’ve seen you, where do I know you from? Oh yes! That’s it! The entirety of the 1980’s.

Mick Hucknall was popular in the 80's - enough said about the decade methinks

Yes, from the ‘weaker than diluted water’ concept, through the ‘as already seen on 3-2-1’ set and the ‘hasn’t been particularly good since first rising to prominence in the 80’s’ Bradley Walsh, every single tiny little thing about you felt massively outdated. That’s not to say, however, that it is outdated. You see nostalgia’s a very big market and TV is a sucker for it – if an idea’s worth doing once then it’s worth repeating again and again until you flog every last little ounce of entertainment out of its battered corpse.

Whilst I believe that all commissioners do desperately want to find ‘the next big thing’ that desire is, unfortunately, hampered by an all-conquering fear that they’ll make a mistake. One mistake, that’s all they think it’ll take to steal their handsome pay packet and fancy lifestyle away from them, one mistake and it’s no more sniffing coke off the breasts of a 19-year-old Lithuanian lap dancer, instead they’re giving hand jobs to truck drivers so they can afford just one glass of Prosecco – and even that probably wouldn’t be chilled. This is the fear they live with, and this is why – despite their protestations of desperately seeking originality – we keep on seeing the same old faces presenting the same old shit on TV.

Sometimes that can work quite well: Strictly Come Dancing is probably the most striking example of how LACK OF ORIGINALITY+CRIPPLING FEAR OF FAILURE+PROMINENT TIME SLOT (can)= HUGE WORLDWIDE SUCCESS, but it’s that (can) that’s the key factor in all of this, because the truth of the matter is that most of the time it doesn’t work. Take, for example, you ‘Odd One In’, I’m led to believe that the format first began during The Black Death (a plague that tore through Europe in the 14th Century, cutting the population in half) where you had to guess who had the plague and beat them to death with a stick if they refused to leave the city. It was an entertainment smash and the ‘guess who’ spirit persisted throughout the centuries:

 

  • Say what you like about the French, but they knew how to add a bit of jeopardy!

    In Tudor times it was “The Axe Factor”, the game was spot the Catholic – the prize being a haircut, with an axe.

  • The Pilgrim Fathers took the concept to America, renaming it “You Have Been Witching?” but who had? Everybody! The solution? Burn them of course.
  • Then the French had a go with their revolutionary take on the theme “Posh or Pauper” which was very popular for a few years until they ran out of poshos and had to start making up other reasons for beheading people – “Come Die With Me” was, however, not popular and commissioner Robespierre ended up getting the chop.
  • There was also a UK revival “The Spy at Night” that the entire town of Hartlepool lost when they incorrectly identified a monkey as a French spy and hung him.
Clearly this was a format with legs, and one that lasted for hundreds of years – progressing from barbaric slaughter to new, enhanced form of barbaric slaughter with the odd parlour game version in between – but then something happened. An invention arose that rendered this game, this somewhat pedestrian game, moot. That invention was the television.
.

Walsh wonders why he's still working, Manford laughs at his wife's trust whereas lovely Peter Andre has obviously been thinking about a squirrel. Again.

With the development of network television the stakes were raised, people started to expect more and more in order to be entertained – for a while it was enough to watch something like a fat man sitting at a desk, and I’m sure that in those days Odd One In would have been a resounding success. TV quickly moved on though, so why didn’t you? What is it about three minor celebrities and a sex texter guessing which random idiot can do what utterly banal thing on the basis of absolutely no information that is supposed to entertain us so? Is it the ‘witty banter’ that Bradley ‘Actor, Comic, Tit’ Walsh so spectacularly fails to engage in? Is it the comedy stylings of husband-of-the-year Jason Manford? Is it the fact that no-one really says or does anything to relieve the tedium at any point? Is that it? It is isn’t it, we’re supposed to be entertained by the mere fact that your show exists aren’t we?
.
Well I’m afraid to say that I’m not. Sorry about that. Time for some home truths I think.
You are not a good TV show. You are a bad TV show, bad because there is no point to you, no entertainment factor, little originality and you are so intensely and unflinchingly dull that at one point I found myself dismantling my clock to see if it was broken – time was moving so very slowly that I feared it had stopped all together.

Grass - I'll be watching some of this grow next Saturday at 7.15pm!

There is no hope for you, there really isn’t. Sell the set to a nostalgia night club – Flares or Reflex perhaps – send Manford back to the Travel Lodge his wife makes him stay in, thank Peter Andre and tell him he’s lovely, and take Bradley Walsh round the back of the barn and put him out of his misery. It’s not that you can do better, it’s that you would genuinely struggle to produce something worse than this derivative dirge.
.
I do have one idea though, maybe you can pass it on for me. It’s also called ‘Odd One In’.
.
What you do, is you get all the commissioners in a room together and you have to spot the one who’s going to take a chance and commission something new, fresh and original. The prize could be that they keep their job. For those that lose? Well, the French had an idea or two (well it was just one, but it was a good one wasn’t it?)
.
Let me know what you think,
.
Rx
PS – When you go to finish Bradley, don’t look directly at him – you’ll never go through with it.

Dear The Melody-less Apprentice

Dear The Apprentice (you know where and when, don’t pretend you don’t)

So, I promised you I’d provide you with a unifying theory didn’t I, and I was going to, honest, but the nodding dog ate my homework. No, in all seriousness there are two reasons – and three sub-reasons – why you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer for the full scientific explanation as to why going in to business with any of these people is a guaranteed disaster and they are:

  1. Flubber is a damn lie. Science isn't fun and doesn't have hilarious consequences. Mind you, neither does Flubber...

    Science is a lot harder than I gave it credit for. I’ve had the fire brigade round four times already this week, I seem to have created a wormhole in the fridge (either that or my girlfriend keeps eating my chocolate) and the glasses I wear to make me look more sciencey give me a headache.

  2. Way way way too much happened this week. I had my works and along came you just flinging spanners into them willy nilly (this is where the sub-reasons come in):
               a) The battle of good vs evil finally took a back seat as Satans two earthly representatives came together in a titanic duel to the death.
               b) Susan, when she wasn’t napping, made some bold decisions and actually looked half decent – and she defended herself without saying “That’s so unfair.”
               c) Helen lost. I’m going to say that again. Helen. Lost.

After becoming soiled by defeat, 'damaged goods' Helen tried to win me over by doing her sexy Shania Twain impression. It didn't impress me much.

As I’m sure you can imagine, Helen losing (yes, it’s true, Helen lost. Yes, that Helen!) provided the biggest spanner of them all as much of the theory was based on the belief that she was invincible. Now that further probing has revealed her to be, erm, vincible, we’re looking at a page one re-write.

Melody as personally painted by Picasso

So yes, science is going to have to wait for now, I’m very sorry. Instead, let me first congratulate you on dispensing with Melody who can now add “I’ve been personally fired by Lord Sugar.” to her list that already includes being taught to cry by Sinead O’Connor and learning decency and respect from Rebekah Brooks, she can at least be happy that she escaped the process without once being punched in the face. Judging by the looks of her that is not something that can be said for Natasha, who seems to permanently sport the look of someone being given a thorough and particularly vigorous body cavity search by a customs woman with big hands and long nails. I’m in little doubt that you hold the princess of darkness in similarly low regard to me, however you’ve been rendered impotent by her quite astounding run of success. She is clearly in league with far higher powers than even Detective Chief Inspector Sugar – nothing else can explain her continued absence, not only from the boardroom but even from the losing team.

You see what has become painfully apparent over the course of the series is that business acumen, intelligence, common sense, decency or the ability to listen to and then act upon even the most simple and explicit instructions will play no part whatsoever in determining which of these candidates will have the opportunity to flush Big Al’s cash straight down the toilet. Only one thing matters. Luck. It’s far and away the single most important factor in this years process. Tom, for example, has none. I didn’t actually see him hit a magpie into a mirror using a black cat as a bat, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was walking on all the cracks under a ladder whilst he did it. If Tom dropped a penny when he bent down to pick it up he’d get hit by a truck carrying syringes, razor blades and dog poo. If he fell into a barrel full of tits he’d come out sucking a vial of the Ebola virus. If he… I’m sure you get the point. Poor Tom, every week making the right calls, every week getting ignored. Literally the only thing standing between Tom and his dream of setting up a Battlestar Galactica Theme Park for cats is luck.

The Roller-Toaster is one of Tom's less ambitious ideas for the theme park

And if Tom personifies misfortune then who’s been slipping fivers to Lady Luck and getting a peek up her night-dress? Why it’s the face of evil herself, Natasha. She’s the most out of her depth by such a distance that she’s actually lapped all the other candidates. The fact that she’s inept doesn’t actually make her stand out in the current menagerie of window lickers, but  she could be the most inept figure at a chimps faeces throwing party, you’d find her sat in the corner, not throwing her poo but eating it and pulling that face she pulls with every mouthful. Fortunately for her though she had awesome back up this week. Susan appeared from nowhere to show

Natasha's business mentor is delighted by her progress

some actual business acumen and even some balls, whereas Jim – Team Jim – blew everyone’s socks off. In a bizarre twist old bulldog nettle face decided to attack the pair who’d saved her from almost certain execution – having spent most of the task projecting her own insecurities onto her team mates, she obviously decided that her self-loathing was also best used as a weapon. Strange girl. That was that, curtains (alas not duvet covers) for Melody and a huge blot on Helen’s perfectly presented Record of Achievement.In terms of the wrong team or the least shit team winning? Well I think on this occasion you have to say that the right team won, but no thanks to strategy, leadership or planning. So as I have to go off and call the fire brigade again I’ll leave you with these things that I have learnt this week about your whole process:

  1. Any idiot can make money. In fact it appears to help if you’re an idiot, the level of income is in a direct inverse relationship to the common sense applied.
  2. Doing the sensible thing is almost certainly never an option in business.
  3. Doing every single thing you can imagine wrongly is no bar to success.
  4. Winning or losing has nothing to do with what you actually do. The wrong team wins more often than not, and in the absence of a ‘wrong’ team (ie When all members of both teams deserve to be tied up in a sack, beaten with sticks and thrown in the canal (ie almost every week)) it just comes down to luck. Luck or signing a contract with Satan.
Right, back to the lab!
R x

Dear Dirty Sexy Things,

Dear Dirty Sexy Things, (E4, Mondays @10pm)

I’m so sorry that it’s taken me until now to write to you, according to my doctors I fell into a banality induced coma about halfway through your debut on Monday. I did regain consciousness for a short while on Tuesday and watched the second half of the

How I believed I looked in my catatonic state - note the beautiful lilac plumage which is very in this season. Who's a pretty boy?


show, but in an effort to protect me from myself my brain went into overdrive and I became convinced I was a budgie. I’ve spent the last 24 hours staring into a mirror and eating the odd seed (ironic really, I’d probably fit right in with your lot) but now I have regained my senses, promised my brain I will never put it through such traumas again, and in return it has promised to help me write this letter begging you to stop.

Yes, normally I’d write with a few helpful hints as to how to get a show back on track (I’m generous like that) but once in a while there comes a show so utterly beyond hope that you just have to hold your hands up and say “What the f**k am I supposed to do? These people think Zoolander is a documentary.”.

I mean seriously, from top to bottom what are you about? It’s a genuine question, because although you filled my screen for an hour (and will continue to fill my nightmares for months to come) there was maybe 90 seconds of content. Digital storage space may be cheap and easily available these days, but that’s still no excuse for you to be such a grotesque waste of it. Hang on, I’m thinking about you too much, I’ve gone all feathery…

Trill - a delicious treat. If you're a bird. Which I'm not.

I’m back. Right, obviously this could result in a serious and permanent mental funk if I think about you for too long, so I’m just going to go down the old-fashioned route and list the most obvious faults I can think of, beg you to stop again and then go spend the evening ringing my bell and eating some trill. Pizza, I mean pizza. Right, have to be quick.

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  • Dirty Sexy Things? Eh? What? Are you competing for the most stupid name in TV history? It means literally nothing and is of no real relevance to the show. You may as well have called yourself ‘Model Train Set’, it would have meant just as much. The only thing I can think is that it’s a play on either a) The little watched marginally entertaining C4 show ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ or b) The little watched band fronted by original Pete Doherty robbery victim Carl Barat – ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ you know, they did that one song that got used on everything for a while. Maybe it’s a mix of the two, either way I suggest a change of name – ‘Pointless Shitpots’ sounds good to me. Go for that.

The 'Pointless Shitpots' from L to R - Lord Hunk of Beefcake, Fun Time Frankie, Gladriel, Little Miss Chaste, Johnny Cheekbones, Apprentice Candidate, Nick Grimshaw and Miss Council Estate 2011

  • Perou? Eh? What? Continuing the theme of ‘what sort of f**king name is that?’ is this jug eared photogratwat who’s obviously mistaken himself for a Brazilian footballer when deciding upon his moniker and mistaken his ability to press the shutter button on a fancy camera that does a lot of the work for you for the ability to cure cancer just by looking at it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it takes a lot of hard work to be a good photographer, I have no doubt it’s a real talent…ooof…sorry I just tripped over one of the umpteen names that Pernod dropped. Where was I? Oh yes, he’s skilled, obviously, but it’s not the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is it? Which brings me on to…

Perou (yes, that's what he calls himself) contemplates the true meaning of 'Being a Twat'

  • Eight photos? Seriously, that’s the foundation for this mess is it? Eight super special magical earth shattering photos of models? Wow, you might just have found the flimsiest premise for a show since someone at the Beeb said “You know walls? Well what if you cut a whole in one stuck Darren Gough in a leotard and shoved him through it?” on the plus side though they at least didn’t take themselves too seriously – Perou takes himself so seriously he’s in danger of becoming a one man human centipede, and those Pet Shop Boys inspired shades…
  • The models:
  1. You keep referring to ‘the beautiful people’ but I seem to be watching a different show, one that’s filled with six fairly average looking people, an elf and Nick Grimshaw.
  2. It was made very clear that they were being selected because of their personalities – it’s so important in a model don’t you know – so I have to ask where you got that magic camera? You know, the one that can tell you everything you want to know about someone’s personality based on three photos. It’s either that, or they were selected base on their looks. Which would make more sense. Because they’re models.
  3. I think it tells you all you need to know about a group of people when they consider ‘walking’ to be ‘tricky’. I’ll admit that I once found it difficult – for the first eight months of my life. Since then it’s not provided me with too many challenges and I’m quite confident that I could walk equally well in London, Paris or Milan and in a wide variety of clothes…

    A model makes the fatal error of thinking whilst already walking and wearing clothes

  4. Basically can you please ask them to stop insinuating that being a model is difficult? That’s not to say it’s not hard, I’m sure they have a lot of demands placed on them and they might sometimes be a bit cold or uncomfortable, like a homeless person but with more expensive ill-fitting and ridiculous looking clothes. However anyone who believes that wearing clothes and ‘looking’ at the same time is – in any way – difficult, must surely have to sit down every time they’re asked a question. I know I’d be fearful of falling over if I upset that delicate balance.
  • The content. There wasn’t any. We learned that hunky beefcake man likes to workout, didn’t see that coming, Nick Grimshaw will throw up if you call him fatty gaylord, and that blonde snooty chops won’t get her non-existent tits out. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and that not every model gets selected for every job. Insightful. An hour and that’s all we get.  You may have missed the memo, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression and your is a mind-numbing fog of dullness almost beyond comprehension. How you will fill another seven hours without being engulfed with self-loathing is beyond me. Thankfully I shall not be finding out.
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So, I thank you for further lowering a bar of shallow and vapid programming that was already interfering with the Wombles headroom, and I ask that you look in the mirror (glass not newspaper) smash it and take a jagged piece to whichever dipshit commissioned you – it’s they who truly deserve my wrath.
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Yours with contempt,
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R
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PS – Seriously, watch Zoolander again, you’ll see that what Ben Stiller’s actually doing is taking the piss out of you.
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PPS – Sunglasses are generally used to deflect sun from your eyes, not to help self-appointed demigods avoid the gaze of mere mortals
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PPPS – Why did nobody tell Perou (seriously, I can’t get over that name, didn’t he play for Benfica?) that a calendar needs twelve pictures? I mean he’s going to look like a right twat when he approaches WHSmith with a calendar missing September through December.

Dear The (Delicious and Crunchy) Apprentice

Dear The Apprentice, (If you don’t know when and where by now there’s little point telling you)

I know you’re getting these letters, I also know that you’re reading them, so I’m going to take your refusal to respond as a sign that you’re ashamed that someone of Head Dinner Lady Sugars business accumen needs telling about his candidates by me, a humble internet crackpot. I understand, and rest assured that neither of my personalities take it personally.

Any way, as you’ve almost certainly said before (and probably after a dramatic entrance like emerging through a cloud of smoke from a secret entrance in the floor or something), to business! Week 9 really taught us almost nothing new: people like biscuits; almost everyone who applied for this years show is (at least on some level) comically inept; Natasha looks like she’s sucking a dog turd covered lemon whenever she’s listening to people; Melody looks like she’s talking whenever she’s supposed to be listening to people; and Jim really does have some magical mystical mind control powers and thus no need to listen to people. So far, so familiar.

Bunsen and Beaker have some controversial theories about partcile physics...

I have, however, been watching Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (I haven’t been watching it with Morgan Freeman, that’s the name of the show, I don’t know him and besides he’d probably talk over it all and I’d get captivated by his voice. Any way, I’ve mostly watched it by myself) and it’s brought out the scientist in me. More accurately it’s brought out the delusion in me that I think in the same way as Nobel Prize winning physicists, cosmologists and maths dweebs – so what I’ve been doing is searching for meaningful patterns to try to formulate a ‘Complete Theory of The Apprentice’ that will hopefully help you make the right decision and let Tom win. Making a case for this is very difficult on a statistical basis.

So, here comes the sciencey bit! Sort of.

In order to properly ‘do’ science, you first have to establish the parameters and what you have observed, because I’m sure there’s some nonsense about how we all observe things differently and that the mere act of observing changes something – or not. I don’t care. Any way, to prevent my research being unduly criticised, I’m going to present to you the evidence on which I’ve based my findings – next week I’ll unleash my theorem and we’ll see what’s what yeah? Yeah!

Right, first of all let’s dispense with the theory that yours is a show determined to find the best and brightest business mind in the country. That would only serve to completely ignore the fact that, this series at least, the weekly results have fallen in to two categories:

  1. The wrong team won (as in the team that made the most wrong decisions. I know they won, so obviously in that respect they’re not the wrong team. Chill out.)
  2. The marginally less shit team won
Often these two acted together – a deadly combination. So, here’s the breakdown.
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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit - insight into teenage sexuality, or instruction to Logic when going to the market?

Week 1 – Fruit and Veg

What Happened     Logic went, quite sensibly, for freshly squeezed OJ and simple tomato soup and targeted it at the wealthy city types around Liverpool St Station, Venture, on the other hand, opted for an overpriced fruit salad and pasta salad combo and targeted the vagrants, drug addicts and prostitutes commonly found near Euston Station in the not yet improved Kings Cross area of London.
Who Won      Venture, of course.
Why     Well, either it was down to Logic only squeezing a third of their oranges (and not thinking to sell the rest) or it was because crack whores really like pasta.
Reason  The wrong team won because they were marginally less shit
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Week 2 – Mobile Phone App
What Happened    Venture played to type and made a bewildering application that consisted of Melody talking  and other noises that tried, but failed, to be equally annoying. An App for those who want to finish the day by killing themselves – Ampi Apps. Logic saw a gap in the bad impressions market and decided that what everyone actually wanted was a posho doing a poor impression of a Welshman via a picture of a shouting black man with a flat cap on. Despite this being a Sophie’s Choice of shite, Slang-a-Tang was clearly the better idea, and better thought out.
Who Won      Of course it was Venture
Why     Because people hate themselves? No, it basically all came down to one self-righteous prick who declared that Slang-a-Tang was racist. It wasn’t. It was shit, but not racist. Also, proving that mobile phones definitely give everyone who owns one a massive dose of brain cancer, Ampi Apps was downloaded over ten thousand times. Unbelievable Geoff.
Reason The wrong team won because one man mistakenly chose the greater of two evils.
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Top Cat was not on the list

Week 3 – The Savoy  

What Happened    Mysteriously, one of the worlds greatest hotels had forgotten to buy some very important things like Top Hats, brass signs indicating wine, and light bulbs – all of which were desperately needed before opening. Inexplicably they decided to dispense with their normal, sensible, procurement procedure and send two teams of people they didn’t know to each get the entire list, with no specific direction on quality, sizes or colour. Best case scenario they have two of everything and some of it might be right. No wonder the rooms cost so much if this is the slap-dash fashion they go about their business.
Who Won      Guess. Yes, it was Venture.
Why  Because in a competition to prove who could fail most miserably at a seemingly (and actually) simple task Logic went the extra 12 miles across London to buy some gravy boats or something.
Reason    Venture were £8 less shit. They tried though, they really tried.
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Week 4 – Beauty Treatments
What Happened    Venture sensibly chose the flashy out-of-town shopping centre and the customer base with large disposable incomes, cleverly spotted the large treatment room it had, and enthusiastically went after the spray tan kit with its huge profit margins. Logic, in a bold display of ignoring both common sense and Tom that has yet to be matched, chose the more poverty-stricken surroundings of Birmingham’s Bullring, where Goth’s hang out and where there are such high-end shops as Primark and Iceland – nothing wrong with those, but you ain’t gonna shift a lot of £20 beauty treatments in there. Their folly was compounded by placing their tiny treatment room in Norwich, and the fact that they lost the spray tan simply by ‘not looking like they gave a shit’ and mistaking that for enthusiasm.
Who Won      Four in a row. Boom.
Why Because despite trying really hard to not do it well once they were on location they had made the right decisions early on, meaning even their massive personality issues couldn’t derail this.
Reason    The right team won (hooray) because they were marginally less shit (boo).
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Week 5 – Pet Food
What Happened    Challenged to produce and market a new pet food, both Logic and Venture immediately set about defying both common sense and the focus group who had somewhat foolishly believed they were present to offer a valuable opinion. Venture went for ‘Cat-Size’, a bag of flavoured cat poison with the flawed-in-so-many-ways-it-must-be-intentional tag line of ‘See their light’ (note, not ‘See they’re light’, oh no, that might have made a little sense). Never to be outdone, Logic proved they could ignore good advice even better than their rivals and plumped for ‘Every Dog’ a combo of horse entrails and sawdust that suits every dog in the world, because they’re like, all the same yeah? Venture backed up their poorly chosen tag line with displays of pitching and advertorial ineptitude beyond compare. Logic, and particularly Natasha’s ‘vision’ came across surprisingly well – seeing as that was also cringeworthingly awful.
Who Won      Team Clawed Balls somehow managed the win.
Why Despite the fact that Venture went out of their way to level the playing field by making an advert that merely made the point ‘cat’s eat’ and gamely getting Leon drunk before he pitched, they successfully appealed to an owners desire for a thinner, sexier cat. Logic’s refusal to acknowledge that a St Bernard is the equivalent of 23 Pugs and a Jack Russell was admirable, but cost them in the end.
Reason    The wrong team won when they were equally shit.

If you don't see all these dogs as the same then you're a racist. There. I said it.

Week 6 – Rubbish 
What Happened    Nothing really. Yes, there were some meetings and some bidding and some arguments and some trying to steal a barbecue, but this episode really was pointless. Actually, that’s not true, it did demonstrate that if you put any group of people into an incredibly specialised business they know nothing about then they’ll struggle, but this is a group of people who have struggled to impress in every area of business so far, so you may as well have made it more entertaining. Your task is to establish, market and run a team of Special Forces Commandos, operating in the Los Angeles underground as Soldiers of Fortune – that sounds like it could be fun…
Who Won      Logic finally made it onto the scoresheet
Why Why not? Essentially because they didn’t do what they should have done and charged to take stuff away.
Reason    Really, the wrong team won. Logic shouldn’t have taken stuff away for free – it’s not how the business works. This one, though, was the toss of a coin – or paper, scissors, stone eh Tom?
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Kurt Cobain - also alive and well in 1994

Week 7 – Freemium Magazines

What Happened    Venture, using skills seldom seen in this process – namely insight, common sense and listening to experts –  targeted a largely untapped market with a huge stack of cash to spend: the over 60’s. Logic, went the opposite way, listened to no-one other than Liam Gallagher and stuck their fingers in their ears and sang Blur’s ‘Country House’ while common sense was talking as they, or more accurately Natsha, targeted 1994. Both magazines were abominations. HIP Replacement continued the themes of shocking puns and ignoring focus groups and managed to end up looking like a Dignitas Catalogue, whilst Covered, although possessing a great name, continued the theme of ignoring the task and your team mates and producing something actually worse than you had originally imagined having seen the trailer. I can think of nothing less likely to make me want to ‘blow my load’ than Natasha and her look of permanently squinting at something she doesn’t like very much.
Who Won      Logic. Yes, seriously, that Logic, the ones who did a lads mag. In 2011. Them.
Why Because Natasha found the only other imbecile in Britain who thought Covered was hitting the mark, and he had sixty grand he needed to get rid of sharpish. Possibly dodgy cash. Yes, HIP Replacement was undeniably badly done, but it was the better idea.
Reason    The wrong team won. They were the wrong team by a distance, and they won by a distance.
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Week 8 – Foo La Fa Fa 
What Happened    There was one product that had a chance of selling in huge numbers, the baby seat, and Venture got it. Tom, leading Logic, wanted it but was beaten down by his team. In fairness, Melody had done intensive market research by asking four people at a Metro station if they used the car and, shockingly for people who’d just got off a train,they all said no. She followed this up by asking if they thought a baby seat that becomes a back pack was a good idea, and they all said yes. However none of this mattered as she didn’t like it so she told Tom that the French hated him. She then proceeded to form her own team, Team Melody, that was sufficiently aggressive to finish second in the task. Elsewhere, Helen did the best pitch of the series, and their was a lot of running around speaking English loudly  in a French accent.
Who Won      Seriously? Venture.
Why Because of the car seat. You’re really not paying attention are you? Mind you, I have gone on a bit.
Reason    The best team won, for the right reasons! Finally.
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Week 9 – Biscuits 

A host of things that aren't biscuits that Logic could apparently have used to win the task...

What Happened    In an attempt to get the entire nation wanting a biscuit after the shops had closed, you had them design a new biscuit. Venture decided not to bother and instead made a flapjack, which isn’t a biscuit, topped with chocolate, which also isn’t a biscuit. Sticking so rigidly to the rules that they actually doubled up, Logic opted for a biscuit within a biscuit! And half of it was plain and half covered in chocolate! And you could split it in half and share it! Apart from the fact it tasted like gravel dipped in soy sauce, Bix-Mix was so far and away the better idea it wasn’t funny. Special Stars had so many problems it was difficult to imagine how they’d not deliberately set out to sabotage themselves:

  1. Special Stars – I have no problem at all with mentally disabled people, but Special Stars does have the ring of the Sunshine Bus to it.
  2. Any time is treat time – No, no it isn’t. That’s how you get a nation of morbidly obese kids who eat their parents, get diabetes at 7 and have heart attacks in the middle of the GCSE’s that they have to take sat at a specially widened desk on a strengthened chair in a portacabin outside the main exam hall because their mobility scooter won’t get through the door.
  3. £1.99 – You can get three packets of Wagon Wheels for that. If you’re going to give kids unhealthy treats you at least want them to be cheap.
  4. Flapjack and Chocolate – It’s not a f**king biscuit. Tom may as well have designed a muffin with £1.50 in cash on top of it if we’re just going to ignore the rules like that.
Who Won      Of course team bloody flapjack won.
Why Because sometimes life isn’t fair, the world isn’t fair, and if you give people a hit of sugar and a wedge of chocolate it makes them happy and they’ll buy 800,000 anythings after that.
Reason    The wrong team won. Simple as that.
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If you’ve made it to the end in one sitting then you have both my admiration and my pity – surely a busy TV show like you must have far better things to do? I would apologise, but full disclosure is important if you’re to take my theory seriously next week, so I assure you it was time well wasted. Spent. I mean spent.
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Yours, with a certain scientific dignity and a professorial beard,
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R
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PS – Next time can you put a warning on before the show, explaining the explicit biscuity images and warning that viewers of a snacky disposition might want to go and get some before watching.

Dear Camelot

Dear Camelot, (Channel 4, Sat @9pm)

Greetings Ye Olde Worlde Citizen, and welcome to the modern age. The ‘Olde Worlde’ to which I refer is not the dark ages in which your ‘drama’ is set, that would be to imply that any effort had gone in to ensuring any form of historical accuracy on your part. No, I’m referring, of course, to the uber-popular soft core porn era of the early 1970’s when Robin Askwith would delight an audience of wankers (a statement of fact, not a judgement on their characters) by seducing, undressing and then knobbing a series of beautiful and buxom trollops in his ‘Confessions of…’ series. It was a time when moral standards were higher, porn much more difficult (and dramatically more expensive) to get your sweaty palms on and there were no computers, videos or smartphones to store your grot on – and as such there was a need for a socially acceptable way to set your eyes on a top-notch set of dirty pillows. Judging by a quick look around the internet that need has long since disappeared.

Fortnum and Mason - suppliers of Fine Jugs, Beautiful Baubels and Great Knockers, but sadly not breasts

Don’t get me wrong in this, I like boobs as much as the next man, and even straight women, gay men, the clergy – hell even the dead – will acknowledge that Morgan Le Fay (played not entirely terribly by Eva Green) is blessed with breasts of the absolute highest quality – imagine, if you will, that Fortnum&Mason supplied lady cushions – they’d look like these! Seriously, they’re quite mesmerising. Excellent piece of casting there.

Where was I?

Oh yes! As is now abundantly clear I have no problem with seeing boobs (well not a ‘bad’ problem at any rate), but I have to ask if you thought that the sight of boobs was a sufficient replacement for a decent script? I know what you’re going to say – “It worked with Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” – and you’d be right. Boiling down pretty much the entire history of the Roman Empire until it consisted of little more than topless women, violent men and violent men having aggressive sex with topless women did work exceptionally well. On Bravo. And then Sky One. Now I’m not saying that those channels attract a more low brow audience than Channel 4, but actually that’s exactly what I’m saying. On Channel 4, we, well I at any rate, expect a little more, and I’m delighted to say that there’s practically no level on which you didn’t greet my disbelieving eyes with abject failure.

I will return to my ‘Confessions of…’ analogy in a moment, but if you don’t mind me switching lanes for the time being…

Camelot Theme Park - Excellent fun when compared to a car park of similar size and expense

The whole experience was a bit like going to the Camelot Theme Park (Charnock Richard, J27 of the M6). Thanks to your excellent trailers I’d spent the entire journey almost vomiting with excitement, turning to my partner and demanding to know “Are we there yet, are we there yet?” until she threatened to turn the TV around if I didn’t shut up. Then, once through the gates, the initial thrill lasted for all of five minutes before it became clear that there was going to be quite a lot of waiting around to be done. So we waited in line for the next ride, and we waited, and waited – and then there was a couple of minutes of excitement in the form of a fight or some sex (obviously a roller coaster in this analogy, wait I think I’ve switched them around. I’m confused…) but whichever way around they’re supposed to go, this is true of both. The thrill, both in content and duration, simply wasn’t worth the wait. Take the big scrap at Camelot (your show, not the theme park), almost nothing happened. Sure, it felt like stuff happened, but in reality it was a loop the loop and little more. very disappointing. Other similarities included the fact that much of my visit was ruined by whiny little bastard kids (notably the wettest, feeblest portrayal of King Arthur in history) and that I was unnerved by the fact that so much was made of wood – in Camelot: The Theme Park some of the rides, in Camelot: The Travesty most of the cast. I also had candy floss whilst not enjoying either version of Camelot. Here endeth this failed analogy.

Returning, ever so briefly, to the Confessions of… thing, and I think this is my main point (look at me, I’m as confused as your show). You could forgive Askwith and co for making films that were little more than a series of soft-core sex scenes strung together

Askwith's reaction on being offered the role of Sir Lance-a-lot-of-ladies was "Oooh mother..."

with implausible dialogue and barely feasible plots because that’s what you signed up for. If anything the scenes tended to get in the way of the sex. They were a nice bit of good old-fashioned farce, a bit of titillation and everyone went home happy. Or at least they went home and made themselves happy. It was cheap and cheerful, it knew exactly what it was and so did the audience. No expectations of high quality, great acting or high drama because no-one ever suggested that any of those would be present. Oh how very different it is for you, Camelot. Almost everything I’ve just said about the Confessions of… films I can equally say about you, but it’s not so easy to forgive because, you see, you have the budget; you have the technology; and perhaps most importantly you have one of the most abiding stories this nation has ever produced – and it wasn’t mostly about Merlin being all shouty and Morgan’s tits.

You’ve taken an amazing tale, thrown an offensive amount of money at it and what have you produced? Confessions of Arthur, King of the Britons Except instead of the cheeky charms of Robin Askwith you’ve got some unimpressive, unappealing moaning teenage bell end who has taken to the role of leading man like a duck to Backgammon. I’m not saying he’s bad, I’m saying he’s so bad that it almost made me forgive Joseph Fiennes for being made almost entirely out of re-constituted pig product. He really has put the ‘ham’ in ‘One of the most s’ham’bolic performances I’ve had the misfortune to sit through, I mean seriously, what’s he so very angry about?’ and the twat in ‘Joseph Fiennes has an acting career? Lucky twat.’. I had hoped that his alarming performance in the dire Flash Forward was a one-off, but it would seem that it was on that performance that you hired him. Bravo, producers, Bravo. Your shows belong on Bravo. Yes, I’m aware the channel no longer exists, that’s the point.

The cast of Camelot (minus Fiennes who was in his luxury sty) take a break during filming

You should always try to finish on a positive note, so I’m going to finish on two!

  1. I won’t be watching again. Hurrah.
  2. A redeeming feature for Camelot is the provision of ample parking. After a lengthy drive up the M6 you don’t want to struggle to find a spot. Bravo to them.
Please don’t attempt any more takes on British history.
R

PS – Alternative title suggestion number 2 –  The Secret Diary of King Arthur, Age 15 3/4

PPS – You’ve seen Game of Thrones right? It’s just your crapness implies that you haven’t.

PPPS – I forgot to add that I’m equally annoyed at Channel 4. Damn it.

PPPPS – I apologise for implying that you did no research. You clearly watched Monty Python’s The Holy Grail and mistook it for a documentary. Common error.

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