Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Dragon's Den

As with most successful TV formats these days, Dragon's Den bases itself around a mind crushingly dull formula that repeats itself every week ad nauseam until your will to resist has been so eroded, that you give in and just sit there watching it like a fat goldfish.

The premise is simple. Crap inventors who can't make their ideas work in real life, (mainly because they are shit) enter into a kind of modern Fagan’s den and beg for money in front of five grumpy faced millionaire misers. Generally the misers or "Dragons" humiliate the inventors by belittling their shit ideas and convincing them that they are a worthless addition to the human race that should be terminated.

Sometimes however, they like the shit ideas enough to invest some of their money in return for all of the shares in the company. They achieve this Jedi mind trick by hypnotising the inventor into believing that they have massively over valued their company and that it is a huge risk for the Dragon to commit 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.1% of their fortune into this idea. Generally however, because the inventor's idea is shit and he or she knows it - they gratefully accept the "Dragon's" kind offer and depart, de-robed of their dignity, poorer than they were 20 minutes ago, but somehow happy.

The BBC say that Dragon's Den puts the "show" into business, but actually it’s just a kind of cruel begging bowl programme that exposes the world of business as the nasty, shit stained money pergatory that it is - hosted by a particularly horrible group of peronalityless financial terminators.

There's Duncan Bannatyne who confirms the Scottish cliché by being a grumpy cunt and never putting his hand in his pocket. He's like a robot who is programmed only to say "I donnae like your idea and a wonnae be investin in it." Then there's Mrs Shrek, or Deborah Meaden who is obviously a transvestite and is so repulsively ugly (both physically and intellectually) that not even a deaf, dumb and blind cripple would be tempted.

These two morgalons are joined by three others. Peter Jones, we are told, is a leisure industries and telecom millionaire whatever the fuck that is. To me, he just looks like a man who suffers from OCD and probably lives in a house where everything is wrapped in clingfilm. Then there James Caan who is almost likeable until you are told he has made his fortune in recruitment which immediately marks him down as bastard of the highest order who would sell his own mother for change. Finally there is a Greek dwarf called Theo Paphitis. I don't know what he does but he clearly suffers from short man complex as he is forever telling us how "big" his truck fleets are and "the size" of his global empire.

Together the greedy fuckers sit in front of their money piles, snorting at Joan from Wigan as she tries to convince them that the world needs a glass horse saddle. They scowl at John from Derby as he tries to sell them his inflatable light bulb. James Caan is in for half, but Duncan's not biting and the Greek dwarf has fallen asleep again.

Dragon's Den is supposed to be light entertainment, but I find myself going to bed incredibly tense and having horrible nightmares about Deborah Meaden trying fuck me. Is this what its like to be in business?

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Nigella Express

There's something about Nigella Lawson that makes me want to poke my eyes out with needles. What pertains to be a cooking show, turns out to be 30 nauseating minutes of camera pouting food pornography, all set in Nigella's fabricated culinary world somewhere in Elsetree.

I've never really liked Nigella, but then again I've never really noticed her enough to want to write about her. In her earlier BBC days and her subsequent sojourn on Channel 4, her style seemed to be fairly straightforward and Deliaesque. Nothing outrageous, no idiotic Jamie catch phrases or happy slapping facial expressions; she was just a middle-aged woman talking to the nation about the banal practicality of food.

But something has happened. It's like she has been getting tips from a homosexual fashion designer on how to look into and away from camera. Every comment will be followed by a moronic smile, which makes her look like a kind of ridiculous caricature of herself. Every food fact will be accompanied by smug raising of the eyebrow, which makes you want to vomit into the bowl of mint white chocolate mousse that she has just prepared.

And then there's the moaning. Every time she tastes one of her delightful concoctions (most of which seem to be made by assembling various ready made supermarket ingredients together), it is followed a pornographic groan which makes you think that Charles Sacchi is just off camera giving her one up the arse.

She'll say things like "when I'm on the go all day, I just haven't got time to get ready for a dinner party of 15, so I do it the Express way" Well, why the fuck are you having dinner party for 15 then, you lardy arsed cretin?!

She also has an infuriating habit of over using the first person possessive "my". "My pasta bake" or "My hokey poky chicken. But they're not hers. In last night's episode for example, we were introduced to "my smoked pepper humous" which seemed to consist of a tin of Waitross chickpeas, some M&S jarred peppers and some oil. What the fuck makes that hers? That's like saying the I-pod is my invention because I bought it from a shop.

And if you get beyond all of this shit without wanting to put your foot through the television, you need a large dose of disbelief suspension to accept the premise that we are somehow peeking into the "normal" life of Ms Lawson where everything is terribly normal. This isn't a set honest and I haven't bought in lots of extras to appear in my dinner party scenes. Hang on a minute, is that not the controller of BBC 2 enjoying Nigella's winky wonkey fucky wucky beef curtains?

The reality of course is that Nigella's world is a fantasy, full of food stylists, actors and wobbly sets. Nigella never actually cooks and her “children” are acting school child protégées. Her former husband would be rolling in his warm grave with embarrassment if he could see the hideous self-parodying monster that his wife has become.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Long Way Down

Once again Ewan & Charley were plunged into the unknown, equipped only with two vans full of supplies, a full back up team - including intermittent visits from Ewan's wife and family, a medical expert, a film crew and an apparently limitless budget. What a couple of wankers!

Next year, the wankers are going to travel across Iraq in a giant bomb and bulletproof bubble, facing all kinds of dangers like sand and wind en route.

It's a strange thing watching Long Way Down. For on the one hand you are undoubtedly seduced by the voyeuristic charm of peeking into the "real life" of a Hollywood A lister, but then there's always something niggling away that ruins it. And then you realise what it is. It's Ewan's embittered sidekick Charley, who becomes more and more annoying with every minute that passes. To be fair it must be a right cunt to be travelling with someone whose very presence serves as a constant reminder of the abject failure that your life is. Added to this, Charley looks like a kind of mummified Einstein; with his large googly eyes popping out of their sockets, his acidic public school accent and his apparently limitless appetite for twaty schoolboy antics. I found myself praying that one of his wheelies would result in a terrible accident and the shattering of all his limbs. Was that wrong of me?

And then there's the blatant star pampering that is going on. At one point in last night's episode, the producer Russ, thinks it would be a good idea to surprise Ewan in Botswana by flying out his mother. I'll fucking bet he did! Just like he probably thought it was a very good idea to lick Ewan's shoes clean every morning or rub him down with baby oil every night after their gruelling 50-mile bike ride.

Deal or No Deal?

And so it was that I found myself last week, cold ridden and feeling generally more hateful towards humanity than I normally do. So I decided to embrace something I've been putting off for some two years now.

The Channel 4 marketing machine would have you believe that its cretin filled empty cardboard box guessing game Deal Or No Deal is a televisual phenomenon that "takes the tension of the game show to a new level". Equipped with evil bearded dwarf Noel Edmonds who was last seen sucking off Mr Blobby for coins outside Charing Cross tube station, this show is based on a kind of pre school nursery game concept wherein a contestant has to essentially guess what's inside a box. There are 12 red boxes and 12 blue ones, each containing an amount of money from 1p to £250'000. Added to this high concept mix are a studio full of hyperactive contestants who appear to have been fed with cocaine and red bull before the cameras started rolling. They cheer and whoop the poor sucker who has been nominated to open the boxes whilst the bearded dwarf glides around the studio smiling like Harold Shipman.

What this is of course, is essentially a guessing game, but everyone, including the bearded dwarf pretend that there is some kind of system at work; some magical formula which, if cracked, will result in success and wealth. Given that most people seem to walk away with 50p suggests that the production crew are either selecting their contestants from a local care home or that the system is fucked and entirely made up.

Deal Or No Deal is like watching a zoo full of special needs children. They react hysterically to things that aren't funny and are happily lulled into believing that the conceit is real and that they, with the right amount of skill and the correct application of “the system” can outwit the banker and win the big money box. Edmunds is like an evil pied piper, leading the lab rats into the abyss that is a zero bank balance. There is something faganesque about him, something dirty and unwholesome. He says things like "well, you lost, but you played the game your way". What does he mean?! They fucking guessed and lost! "You had a system and you used it" Yup, that system was called guessing.