After two years of infuriating, we’re back to underwhelming.
1. So the final task was another “design and launch” task, but with the added element of an advertising campaign to include, because God knows, the more candidates there are in the final, the more elements there need to be in the final task in order that as little as possible be shown of them. It’s kind of a shame that a really complicated and involved final task get dealt with with such comparatively short shrift, whereas simplistic bollocks like “flog cars” seemed to take up 50 minutes of good episode time. Still at least we got some Apprentice comedy out of the whole scenario. The launching of a new “male fragrance” provided the opportunity for much tedious discussion of metrosexuality and “real men”, a lot of pretentious talk about things smelling of “caramel, honey, and orchid”, and brainstorming sessions about branding so tortuous that they seemed to last all episode.I can’t help thinking that some of the dead air taken up by the discussion show’s endless re-iterations of how awful Alex and Helene were could have been better spent on showing them out of their depth in the finale. Certainly when your spin-offs take up more time than your actual show, it doesn’t really speak to the quality of your content.
2. Given the returning candidates chosen there was a relatively low level of non-finallist related balls-ups this year. Jenny Celery and Michael did nothing outstanding either way, which is surprising given their status as the worst two candidates by far this year. Simon and Raef basically got on things quietly, with their grace notes only confirming stuff we already knew (Simon’s really quick to praise others to the detriment of himself, Raef’s still kind of full of hot air). It was left to Kevin and Jennifer Maguire to carry the episode on the returnee’s front, with the former proving just as sweetly self-deluded as he always was, and the latter showing she was possibly fired slightly too soon and who wasn’t nearly the raving ice-queen bitch the show tried to make her out to be. All in all neither team was anything compared to the Jadine-Tre-Rory or Michelle-Syed-Paul-Sharon carve ups we’ve seen of the past in the final, which I guess speaks well for the finalists team picking skills, if not making great tv.
3. So Alex and Helene got the chop in the most sweetly predictable set of firings in the show’s history. I guess it was nice to see Helene’s one moment of genuine joy in the whole show – snorting out “Girth” as a potential brand name with all the gusto of a 14 year old looking up rude words in the dictionary. Apart from that their team was pretty spectacularly dysfunctional. Unsurprisingly the two of them didn’t work as a unit at all, spending the entirety of the first day fluttering around having precisely no ideas until the advertising executive handed them one. A good one. In terms of concept, marketability and appeal it was clearly far better than Lee & Claire’s “Remember The 70s?” affair (the second time a winning team has gone with a thoroughly uninspired Bond concept and won). But a bad idea on the fact of it not actually meeting the brief. At all. Because the bottle cost about 3 times the retail price set out. And in the end, if you don’t meet the brief properly you have to go. Not that the final task has any actual impact on who goes EVER but it was nice this year that the actual right team went.
4. So, Claire vs Lee then? For the first time ever I was fine either way. Tim, Ruth and Kristina were all my favourites and I was rooting hardcore for either one from Wk 8 at the latest. I only decided on Claire about 5 seconds before she got fired so it was hard to really work up much of a fuss. I think she had more potential than Lee, but also a higher capacity for burnout or causing tension and discord in the workplace. I do think it’s a bit much that a “ballsy” female has now finished second EVERY SODDING YEAR, but I can’t really deny Lee his victory. He tried hard on every task, he never lost as PM, he was never in the boardroom, he won a lot, and bollocking Sara apart he seemed like a decent guy. It is kind of odd how the worst series are the ones that boil down to essentially the right finalists.
5. The hour long marathon that was “You’re Fired/Hired” I think was at least an improvement on last year’s finale, which was a horribly sullen affair where everyone present clearly hated the fact that Simon had won and Kristina exploded in a fireball of utter fierceness taking half the building with her. This time everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there, content with their lot and ready to move on. Well apart from Lucinda, who was the proverbial cloud at the picnic/fart in the elevator, steadfastly refusing to move from a position of victimhood over something that happened months ago, and for which she has to take partial responsibility. Also it wasn’t particularly satisfying to see the largest part of the finale being a roast of Helene when Alex was more egregious and well… Lee & Claire actually did better, so I’d rather hear about them thanks.
So what of series 4 as a whole then?
Best Episode – Marrakesh now and forever. The fall of the house of Celery, Sara and Lucinda (back when I didn’t hate her) shining, the kosher chicken/tennis racquet debacles, Claire being the world’s worst girlfriend, Lee losing his ever-loving mind, Margaret in a white pant-suit and the greatest boardroom in the show’s history.
Worst Episode : Weddings. A complete lack of humour, the crushing inevitability of Michael lingering around forever despite literally screaming abuse in customers faces, Alex being praised for being a great salesman when he sold one more dress than Helene, a bullshit firing, Nick talking shit about Birmingham and Raef being crap.
Best Nick Or Margaret : Margaret. From pwning Alex repeatedly to pulling a variety (take note of the word variety there Nick) of hilarious faces and generally talking sense.
Worst Nick Or Margaret : Nick. Talked nothing but crap, pulled the same lemon-face endlessly, and went on another scary sexist old man rant about Jennifer Maguire halfway through the series that made literally no sense. An utter waste of space this year.
Best Candidates : Lee, Sara, Claire & Raef. That really should have been the Final Four, and would have been had the producers not misguidedly thought that Michael Sophocles was an endless source of hilarity rather than what he was, which was an annoyance.
Worst Candidates : Michael, Jenny C, Alex and Lucinda. In order : completely devoid of merit, full of crap and a bully, manipulative and so devoid of energy I expected him to faint any second, and a useless, insincere, passive-aggressive stealth-bitch with a martyr complex the size of Egypt who somehow has won the public’s undying love because she has nice hats.
Until next year…