Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Apprentice UK Series 8 Episode 2

I was shocked again by Lord Sugar's decision this week to fire Maria because whilst she didn't contribute that much on the team, Katie provided absolutely no contribution in the first task so why wasn't Katie fired over Bilyana for contribution last week. In all honesty I found it very difficult to pin down who I thought would be fired but I ultimately believed Jenna seemed the most vulnerable because of her ludicrous costings but it seems like if Lord Sugar could fire a second person it would have been Jane. Whilst the girls' product was terrible, I thought they didn't perform as badly as Lord Sugar thought. The main problem were costings and product. It was also rather odd of them to make a u-turn on the tap-cozy after market research loved it. Yes there would have been problems with the aspect of having a one size fits all design but I think they should have explored that option further before dismissing it.

Anyway both ideas were pretty shoddy. The boys' idea, championed by Duane, sounded pretty standard to me and I found it hard to understand the use of the product they created. Yet again none of the boys particularly impressed me but it is evident that Duane is showing himself in the best light at the moment.

After the first episode Maria was a character I thought would last on the show so I was shocked with her dismissal. Yes she had yet to show her use but Lord Sugar has always loved those with a voice so firing two of the strongest characters on the first two shows seems irregular to me.

Now that we are two episodes in I have some opinions on each of the candidates so...

Adam Corbally - Seems like one that would push his idea to no end and bend those around him to think the same, not keen on him at the moment.

Azhar Siddique - Supposedly he created a rift in the group but I think the only thing he lacked was communication, however he has yet to show me his strengths.

Duane Bryan - Obviously a strong voice in the boys group, I'll be interested to see his leadership qualities.

Gabrielle Omar - Sadly in both tasks she has shown lack of ability, unless she turns it around our resident architect will be fired soon.

Jade Nash - She strikes me as someone who could potentially go far but with how Lord Sugar has been doing things lately she might be a huge miss also.

Jane McEvoy - Whilst I don't have a favourite on the show yet Jane is probably the closest for me. Whilst she lost this task she showed good leadership qualities and has a great way of speaking which commands attention but doesn't force it down your throat.

Jenna Whittingham - I can't see longevity in her, she doesn't stand out as a threat.

Katie Wright - I am more and more intrigued by what she has to offer, she can either be a great success next week or ultimately fail terribly and get eliminated. Ultimately Lord Sugar has given Katie her last chance by, I believe, delegating her project manager for the boys team - it's all or nothing for Katie as I think if she were to lose it would mean immediate firing from Lord Sugar.

Laura Hogg - She seems pretty charming and a potential threat but I need to see more of her.

Michael Copp - WHO? I can't see where this one is going.

Nick Holzherr - I don't have a particularly strong opinion on him

Ricky Martin - I think he could go either way to be honest.

Stephen Brady - Obviously he's already set himself out as a leader and has shown good as well as bad qualities but he should be in this for the long run considering only Duane (in the guys team) has been featured in the show as much as he has.

Tom Gearing - I have yet to see what he can do but he doesn't strike me as a threat as of now.

But at this moment I think I'd be stupid to predict a winner as nobody has really shown any true potential but if I was to outline people to look out for I'd place Duane, Jane, Laura and Stephen and maybe Jade and Nick as dark horses.

I won't be able to watch the next episode of the Apprentice as I'll be in SPAIN! But I'll do my best to update right after I'm back.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hunger Games (Spoilers)

Somehow I managed to watch the first movie of the Hunger Games trilogy before its official release so I'm going to give you a bit of my opinion.

I might have been living in a cardboard box for a while as I only knew of the books existence a month ago so most of the hype is fresh to me. Instantly I saw similarities to Battle Royale and as an avid Battle Royale fan I was intrigued by how the Hunger Games would develop.

Anyway onto the film, I have not read much about the actual story so all my knowledge is based on the film. I have to say the film does not manage to hold my interest as how Battle Royale did. In general the plot was swift but also lacking in a lot of detail, many characters were introduced and then quickly killed off. The actual Hunger Games lasted no more than an hour of film time. Character development was poor besides for Katniss and I felt the relationship between Katniss and Peeta far too 'Hollywood' in the movie, like a ploy to drag teen girls to the cinema. I would say most of the film was intriguing up until the end where you're left asking "Was that it?", this obviously coming from a viewer with no prior knowledge of the outcome. Desperate to find a conclusion I spent time scouring through Wikipedia pages but was left with not much of an answer and what sounds like an unpromising finale to the story.

What should have been painstaking moments like Rue's death were treated lightly with expectation rather than shock. The film would have benefited much more if they spent less time creating background for the games and more time when the contestants are in the games. Characters are portrayed in a stereotypical way with a clear divide between the good guys and the bad and no interest as to why the 'baddies' act in that way. I also found Katniss' character rather odd. She seemed exhilarated by the fact that people liked her when she was being interviewed and introduced to the games but is strongly against the idea of the Hunger Games. We can argue this emotion might have conjured from her feeling of wanting to win for her sister but I can't help but feel that Katniss is not the protagonist we are led to believe.

I will be intrigued to watch the following movies to see how it pans out but I'm not yet drawn to read the books as nothing as of yet promises that the Hunger Games would be as interesting a read as Battle Royale.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Apprentice UK Series 8 Episode 1

Armed with the worst chippie I have ever had I welcomed the new series of the Apprentice tonight, it was a classic. Another series of terrible decisions and catfights galore, this episode had plenty and all with an unexpected outcome in the end.

Having followed the Apprentice since the start of its run I would like to call myself a mini expert who enjoys predicting what the show has in stall for us, ultimately the task is to guess who out of the incompetent are fired. In the unfortunate circumstance Bilyana, Gabrielle and Katie were placed in the firing line. Gabrielle, our resident architect (woo, the first of our bunch), lead the terribly named group Sterling. She showed passion and dedication during the task but ultimately her lack of strategy and management skills let her down. Bilyana was the resident sorority girl, she reminded me a lot of Melody from Series 7 because they both shared the same passion of loving to talk about their achievements in the most annoying way. She was brought into the boardroom for supposedly grating on others and taking the team on a wild-goose chase outside London Zoo. Finally we have Katie, the quiet competitor who seemed a bit too quiet but supposedly it was her way of blowing people out of the water (as seen on her profile page).

Out of this trio I had firm belief that Katie would be the perfect candidate to fire after Lord Sugar's constant reminder that he didn't want anybody to hide. If not Gabrielle was responsible for the lack of coordination on the day (however much it pains me to see an architect be fired first). But in fact Bilyana was the first contestant sent packing, I was rather shocked. The reason she left was not because of her abilities nor because she annoyed others it was because she didn't listen to Lord Sugar, not knowing when to shut up is one of the worst sins to have, as seen in previous contestants like Paloma Series 6. But it was also because I think Lord Sugar concluded that if given the chance Bilyana is the type to happily stab anyone in the back to get to where she wants, as is how I interpreted Lord Sugar's last few comments on Bilyana. However Bilyana is what makes great TV, the way she was portrayed this episode did not give any indication that she would be the first sent packing and I was ready to see many a catfight between her and the other strong-headed women, such a missed opportunity.

This episode followed quite the same recipe to past episodes of the Apprentice ultimately the better design, Team Sterling's, lost to the better salespeople Team Phoenix (who the hell came up with these names?) Sterling had a much more interesting concept but sadly in a one day task like this minimising your target audience immediately means you've lost a lot of potential customers whilst Phoenix really were capable of selling to any passersby, especially tourists. Besides that I think there was very little separating the two teams. Both had rather weak PMs but in a task like this they might as well be invisible because it's almost all about selling. Nick's laughable plot of selling small teddy bears for £15 to unsuspecting passersby was a shocking move remedied later by "Shadow PM" Stephen. For the girls the decision to move to London Zoo might have seemed a great idea but it meant competition with existing merchandise; trying to catch a big sale here would have been much more difficult and required much more strategy than at Greenwich Market. They also spent a lot of time travelling there thus losing a lot of trade. This led to Bilyana uprooting the girls somewhere else, ultimately this was not why the team failed and thus not the reason why Lord Sugar fired her because whilst she made a navigation error she made the right decision to move the girls on if they were failing to sell in the zoo. 

However what ceases to amaze me was how the boys managed to shift their dodgy bags. What was even more distressing to see was when the girls' sub team tried to flog their merchandise to a store owner. Many a time we have seen rather bemused store owners happily buying the candidates remaining stock but this store owner was having none of it and was instead left rather harassed to the extent the girls were giving a telling off by what I expect to be the husband. It was simply chaotic in there, Bilyana's nature of holding on was annoying but this was exacerbated when Jenna and Katie also felt the need to raise their voice.

All in all the episode was amusing but ultimately I felt very few came out of it looking good. Out of the remaining 15 Jade has left the biggest impression, both positively and negatively - I love the way she speaks! Whilst Jane and Maria are also looking like good competition however it's near eliminated candidate Katie who intrigues me, for some odd reason I believe she'll have a redemption ala Helen Series 7 and show us she's not as meek as we'd expect. None of the guys really showed up today, at least not 'Boris Johnson' lookalike Nick. If anyone out of the boys seemed to have a brain it was Duane. Obviously I'm going to support the architect Gabrielle but I've still to find someone I truly like. However still disappointed that Lord Sugar let Bilyana go, I think she had potential not only as a winner but also as great TV.

NB. Does anyone think Jane looks and sounds a bit like Catherine Tate