‘The Apprentice Series Nine Episode… Eight? Let’s Go With Eight’ Review

Apprentice 2013 week 8

I wasn’t jotting stuff down whilst watching this episode for a few reasons. Firstly, I got carried away trying to make a playlist that started off as ‘melancholic electronic’ but ended up being anything with bleepy-bloopy (industry term) sounds or a synthesiser in it. Secondly I was enjoying this episode too much. I think it’s one that will go down in The Apprentice legends, alongside:

I completely remember why I adore this show.

This week’s task was come up with a website and an advert, which already means great television is afoot. Adverts and The Apprentice go hand in hand like pasta and cheese, cheese on toast, any food with cheese…

Oh, and bacon flavoured beer. I’m still not letting that one go.

But what makes this task even better is what area the contestants have to work in: online dating. This would have easily made my Top 5 Apprentice Episodes Ever based on Alex’s shenanigans. Basically he makes lots of Fifty Shades jokes (“I’m Christian Grey of the Valleys” is a classic) and this happens:

Our poor Welsh Vampiric  Underdog tries to go for Project Manager, having experience in Web Design before. He gets outvoted and the team put Jordan in charge. Jordan is the one who hasn’t got Web Design experience, is usually in the background milling around doing stuff but not much and tweeted this…

AppEp8 Tweet

Interestingly enough, their team wins too. Not because they were great or anything, their dull corporate website clashed with their hilarious advert with mascara-d up Alex (or Herbert) and Unsayshuhbuhl Nuhdeen Leah Coyle voiceover. No, Jordan‘s team won because the other team redefined ‘disasterrific’.

Where do I begin? Let’s bullet point this:

  • Jason was voted as Project Manager. The man has no leadership qualities, was two hours late for a meeting because he was faffing around with a website that they actually never finished.
  • The team went for the Over-50s market despite knowing nothing about the Over-50s and the strange planet they live on.
  • Francesca and The Man Who Refers To Himself Only As Neil Clough made the most stilted yet patronising advert of all time. That wink will haunt my dreams.

But what really made this possibly my favourite Apprentice episode of all time was a first for the show. After nine seasons, a Project Manager actually abdicated.

Well, I say abdicated I mean BULLIED INTO SUBMISSION!!!!

I just googled ‘Apprentice Luisa‘ and well… there were lots of photos not suitable for this respectable blog, or work. Or my eyes.

But anyway, Luisa came across as evil incarnate in this episode and… I kind of loved it. Despite selling a whole caravan last week, its clear Jason wasn’t following it up and spent four hours choosing the colour of a logo. So Luisa donned her black hooded robe, raised her hand and spoke those immortal words “You will pay the price for your lack of vision” and out of her perfectly manicured claws came lightning bolts of searing pain. Jason whimpered around on the floor, trying (not very hard) to resist until it became too much and he threw in the towel.

Surely under the leadership of a strong power-crazy Empress happy to trample over anyone in her way, Luisa will lead her trembling followers to victory in this task?

Well, as I’ve already written above: no.

Although their team had consistency between advert and design, it was consistently rubbish. So it was a hollow victory to Herbert and friends who got to do some posh food tasting and most importantly, avoided the war between Jason, Luisa and Francesca. It made for one of the best boardroom scenes, with Nick VS Luisa, Jason VS Luisa (still, a mostly one-sided battle), Lord Sugababe VS Luisa and Francesca actually showing some personality! Lo and behold, she is almost as catty as Luisa. I cannot wait to see these two clash. I also worry for Karren, who is going to keep a very close eye on The Empress. If she ends up battered, bruised and/or missing, I will be very upset.

Anyway, Jason obviously gets fired and on the spinoff show You’re Fired proves he’s actually really funny. And not just to laugh at, although there is a VT of him talking about how inspirational his teddy bear is so…

Next week: ready meals. As a student (for another two weeks until I graduate) I am very intrigued as to what they will come up with.

Oh but wait!

I’m on holiday, so who knows when I will review it.

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‘Xbox 180’ Microsoft’s DRM Policy Reversal

Microsoft have saved face, and saved themselves losing out on a lot of money by letting people buy pre-owned games and lend them without punishment. Like how things are right now.

It’s pretty clear Microsoft don’t really want to do this, they were so enthusiastic about their money-making policies. Having said that, their reputation isn’t great but it will be salvaged. Both Microsoft and Sony have survived worse: Red Ring Of Death, Network Hacking etc (remember those, they seem so long ago). The next-gen console race is going to get more interesting now PlayStation 4 doesn’t have that massive advantage anymore. The main difference between the consoles now is price, controllers, exclusives and TV features no-one really cares about. Heck, maybe we should all just buy a Wii U

Although I’m admittedly a massive Sony fanboy and it would’ve been great to see them follow up their E3 victory with a clear lead in this (admittedly quite silly) ‘console war’ at the end of the day whichever black box you buy you will be able to do the things you should be able to do with your discs. This isn’t a victory for Microsoft, its a victory for gamers.

Should You See ‘The Man Of Steel’?

Although this film is making a decent bit of money (understatement: it has apparently had the best June opening ever) a lot of people aren’t sure if they should go see the Man of Steel. 

Are you one of these people? I can see why:

You are sick to death or reboots and especially superhero origin stories, hence why you didn’t enjoy last year’s not so amazing Amazing Spider-Man.

The ‘dark and gritty’ trailers put have you off.

It’s very action heavy, with some reviewers saying it reminds them of DragonBall Z more than anything.

You’ve heard it has ‘character’ and ’emotion’, things you don’t want in a superhero film.

Russell Crowe is in it.

The film is directed by Zack Snyder, whose previous works are very good looking but ultimately hollow.

You can’t take another two and a half hour long epic.

Or perhaps you just aren’t a fan of Superman.

And these are all very good reasons, but I must disagree with them. To put it bluntly you need to see Man of Steel. And here is why:

That is all.

The Apprentice Series 9 Episode Which One Are We On Again?

Apprentice 2013 week 7

Yes I know I’ve missed the last two weeks but I am back with a vengeance – trying to make funny jokes about The Apprentice, typing as I’m watching the episode live. To make sure I don’t miss a second I even turned onto BBC One (HD, obviously) ten minutes early, catching the end of Watchdog. It was scary. There was a poor man just trying to make a living by stealing people’s money getting chased down the street by camera crews and a presenter who wouldn’t let him drive away in his car. And then… this was this terrifying woman.

shudder.

Anyway onto the main event, and there’s the usual re-cap which I normally find annoying. Like, why bother – no one in their right mind would ever miss an episode of this show. But yeah, actually… thanks for the catch-up ‘The Beeb’. After some toplessness which I’m sure is written into the male contestants contracts we’re off to the Tower of London.

Insert head getting chopped off pun here.

So we get to the Tower and the task is to sell. Caravans. In Birmingham.  So why bother being at the Tower? Who knows.

Kurt becomes project manager of Endeavour because… he’s been on caravan holidays. OK… He shot Alex down, which is a bad idea.

Jason, the one no-one likes whinges about caravaning and wonders just WHO does it? Alex and Kurt have the answer through extensive market research: looking at the caravans driving past and guesstimating ages. Their ‘research’ tell us over 50s like to go camping. This is a recipe for disaster.

Myles talks to the product designers with his eyes nearly popping out of his face trying to fake smile and be nice. Nick calls him so enthusiastic its nauseating. I can’t disagree. I also can’t disagree with 3rd person lover Neil Clough calls teammate Jason a big girl’s blouse. I find this insult quite amusing, in a silly way. It’s nothing compared to Alex calling him a ‘stupid shit’ in episode 2 but its more for the CV isn’t it?

Things don’t go well for Myles’ team who don’t get the items they want to be able to sell. Bet you they win though.

Then again, once the exhibition starts most of the candidates are shown failing at selling a single thing. Except for… Alex. As Lord Sweet’n’Low tweeted:

AppEp7 Tweet

Thanks for that input.

Also selling quite well is… Jason. WHAT?!? His quirky (read: annoying) style is going down well with the camper fans he so hates. Even he looks surprised. Neil Clough admits his ‘man pride’ is damaged. I feel your pain mate. At least he’s trying harder than Kurt, whose ‘technique’ is so casual I think he’s asleep. Maybe Alex has been sucking the blood out of him as revenge for taking his Project Manager gig. Jordan goes to Luisa for sales advice only to be met with a ‘Awww I dunnow, I’m just sellin’ whilst Alex, Nadine Leah Coyle and Natalie get confused by what is a desk and what is a bench.

As the day nears its end, prices are slashed everywhere to make sales. If I ever see Apprentice candidates selling stuff, I’m just going to hang around til the end of the day and make a killing.

In the boardroom Nadine Leah Coyle is attacked for being a moody cow, she tries to defend herself but everyone’s got a point: she hasn’t looked this grim since the Girls Aloud split (its still too soon… sadface). Lord Splenda digs at Alex, telling him that maybe people voted for Kurt not because of his experience, but lack of faith in the Welsh vampiric underdog. I hope he gets a chance to stake it to his teammates when the arguments start.

And they will, because Evolve win with a landslide victory of £33,000 to just over £1,000.

To add insult to injury, Siralun invites Jason back in to congratulate him. Ouch.

Evolve get a cycling session with Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy. Luisa asks him if she should just keep looking at his bum. Yes, yes she should. I mean…

Poor choice of picture. But that doesn’t compare to the bad decisions Endeavour made which Nick, Karen and Lord Tate Lyle rip into them for, with a sense of glee that they don’t show – but you can tell. The highlight is Leah‘s face when she gets told Kurt made her swap teams because she’s eye candy.

Kurt brings Natalie and Alex back to the boardroom for a showdown. Ding-ding-ding! I’m in Dracula’s corner. Natalie shouldn’t be brought back in my opinion and Kurt should (and probably will go). Let’s go!

There’s crying! There’s boasting whilst trying to say ‘I’m not one to brag’!! There’s Dracula revealing he was in the business of TOMBSTONES!!! You cannot write this.

As I predicted, Kurt is gone. And not even with with a “thank you for the opportunity”. But then… NATALIE GETS FIRED TOO!!!

WAIT!

WHAT?!?

At least Natalie leaves with dignity. Well, a ‘thank you for the opportunity’ at least. Good to see manners remain despite a shock second firing I think is totally unfair. Goodbye Natalie, I will miss you. Kurt… I won’t.

Next week: a dating task! OH GOD YES!!! It’s going to be so cringe-worthy. And Alex is gothed out in a black t-shirt and guyliner. I cannot wait. Apprentice, I missed you for two weeks but you have your claws in me again.

New Music Video! ‘Take A Look At The World’ – Ralph Myerz feat. Annie

After composing myself after E3 I am ready to FREAK OUT ALL OVER AGAIN! My favourite single of the year (so far) has a music video!

And yeah, it’s ok.

In my singles countdown I said I’d be happy if the video was someone cutting their toenails. Luckily its not. And its not serving up an extra large portion of ‘Tubestops & Lonely Hearts’ realness awkwardness. There’s lots of shots of everyone’s favourite Norweigan popstar (that’s Norweigan Popstar Annie) being driven around a city, taking a look at the world. There’s shots of this pretty night time city, letting us lucky people take a look at the world. And yeah, that’s kind of it really.

I would’ve liked a bit of poolside frivolity, and the editing could have been tighter but it does look very polished and high-def, which for an Annie is unheard of. Most importantly, the song still sounds fantastic, especially with headphones in walking around after dark whilst it rains – and the hardly the best time to watch the music video. God knows what could happen! Stay safe kids. Don’t get hurt in the name of Norweigan Popstar Annie, because the Police probably won’t know who she is 😦

Giving the general music buying public’s love for foreign DJ’s featuring female vocalists, maybe just maybe this will be a hit. I can dream right?

Maybe if Flo-Rida gets a verse…

E3 Thoughts

I must say that staying up all night (I really hate regional time differences sometimes) and practically losing all of today as a result was well worth it, because -in a nutshell – E3 was amazing!

Like: right now, nothing else matters in my life amazing.

SONY banished all of my fears about the PS4 being too pricey or having used game restrictions, and did it with utter glee. Just look at Jack Tretton’s face, and the applause.

The PS4 is riding a wave of positivity and goodwill right now, whilst Microsoft are looking like a bit like panto villains. Annoying as having two consoles not THAT different on the market is, and all the arguments between your friends over what’s better, I think the competition between Microsoft and SONY is good for the both of them. It forces them to innovate and not get lax but on their toes. After the negativity surrounding the XBOX One reveal, if SONY weren’t sure of their used game policies, they definitely are now and made sure that we do too.

That’s not to say Microsoft had a bad conference at all. I would say it was one of their strongest, perhaps until the $499 price was mentioned and their trumping by SONY. But they did LOTS right, focusing only on the games once they got the TV and Windows 8 nonsense out the way a few weeks ago.

My Microsoft highlights were:

Horse stealth! Kiefer Sutherland doing a good job! Those weather effects! This is going to be a must have, even though I SUCK at Metal Gear games, the controls just don’t sit well with me. It was clever of Microsoft to open with a franchise closely associated with PlayStation. Having said that, MGS2: Substance was out on Xbox, MGS3 hit the 3DS recently and the HD Collection was out for both 360 and PS3. Speaking of those consoles, its out for current gen as well as next gen consoles, so I wonder whether I will get it for PS3 or 4. Judging by how juicy next gen is looking, if financially viable I may be getting my first ever console at launch (or within the first year).

While Insomniac Games‘ XBOX One exclusive looks pretty fun and humorous (and makes me feel like they’ve betrayed us PlayStation-ers) THIS is the thing that almost makes me feel like I’m missing out by getting a PS4. Giant mechs can lead to sluggish gameplay but this feels slick and… just awesome. Kudos.

Titanfall is developed by EA, another company seen as gaming ‘villain’s. But to be honest, I think they had a LOT of strong material. And unlike Titanfall, a lot of it is going to be on both new consoles (huzzah), such as:

I’m really not a fan of ‘real world shooters’ like Battlefield or Call of Duty but I’ll be damned if that building crashing down wasn’t INCREDIBLY impressive. And the size of the map! Am I going to be converted? Who knows. Once again, this is out for current and next gen but the choice seems pretty obvious.

They also teased us by announcing a new Mirror’s Edge (about time!) and…

About TIME!

I think a recurring theme of this year’s E3 has been about just giving gamers what they want, being a bit (understatement) overdue about it but still there is a feeling of the companies knowing what people are clamouring for and just going… ‘we want to make you happy’. Which leads me nicely onto…

I don’t think I could BE any happier. Like, as soon as I saw this I had that warm gooey feeling I think people in relationships (what are those?) have. Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2006, so this one has been a long time coming. We’ve been kept happy with some very good spin-offs, some not so good ones and the upcoming HD remix but its finally time to get on with it. Although the end of the teaser only said ‘in development’ so we don’t know how long Square Enix intend to take getting on with it. How about the second HD remix next year and KHIII in early 2015?

At first we all believed this to be PS4 exclusive and one of SONY’s triumphs, but today Square announced this is due for XBOX One as well. Part of the huge fanboy in me is a bit disappointed, although the spin-offs have been on Nintendo handhelds and mobile (in Japan) , the home console entries have always been synonymous with PlayStation. It does take the wind out of my bragging sails a bit but the more people who get to experience the sheer joy of new Kingdom Hearts the better.

ACTUALLY, touching upon the HD Remix. We are FINALLY getting the Final Mix version of the first game, and in Europe the remake of Chain of Memories – things we thought we would NEVER EVER get. Similarly, the gorgeous looking Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is giving us the International + Last Mission version of X-2, which we thought would remain Japan only forever, like KH Final Mix. The fans are being listen to, and their wishes are being granted. Eventually.

But the wish to end all wishes, and confirming what the internet predicted two years ago: FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII XV

Behold its majesty. 

It’s finally coming!!!! At some point. The thing they announced as a PS3 exclusive at E3 2006. At least 8 years later its coming to XBOX One and PlayStation 4!!! Eeeeeee! It’s not surprising its become multi-platform: its now a main-series entry and after all the work put into it they may as well release it to as many people as they can. I do wonder how long its been in development for next-gen consoles for. It started development in 2008 for PS3, so are they just porting the game to next-gen or did they switch to next-gen development at some point – possibly when they stopped and re-started in 2011. If the former is true, why are we not getting a PS3 version? And will it not look as good as games developed for PS3/XBOX One from the ground up? This is Final Fantasy we can’t have that!! Although saying that, graphics aren’t everything and the game still looks incredible, with the wonderfully Japanese gothic art design and crazy physics.

Another thing that crossed my mind is now the game doesn’t bear the XIII isn’t its title anymore, will it have anything to do with that whole mythology? This would make it the first main series FF to be properly related to another (don’t start me on that VII/X Shinra link). Personally, I’d prefer if they re-worked the narrative to make it its own thing, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will tie all that universe up and hopefully do it well – its gotten horribly convoluted so far.

So currently Square Enix seem to be in the good books of all the fans, which is rare for them. I know they are being exceptionally good to us right now but I’d love to hear something on bringing Final Fantasy Type-O outside of Japan. As a Vita title maybe? The handheld is still criminally under represented and as much as I love the PSP, even I don’t want to upgrade just yet. Also, I know they are almost certainly working on it, but I’d love to see an announcement and a few screens of Final Fantasy VI for iOS.  Argh… SEE?!? This is what happens when games companies show us nice things, we get greedy and we want more.

We want it all.

And we want it NOW!

Kudos to everyone for a spectacular E3 though. The thought of owning a PS4 and playing Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts IIIStar Wars Battlefront, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and maybe even trying some of the incredible new online experiences like Battlefield 4 and Destiny (which I didn’t even cover so quickly: makes me less gutted about Titanfall and very cheeky of SONY to counteract MS having MGSV in their conference but having Xbox darlings Bungie show off their game as the main part of the PS4 conference) as well as the host of self-published indie games SONY are rightfully behind.

I thought that this current console generation was going to be my last hardcore one, as life would take over and gaming would become a casual pastime I’d dedicate less and less effort on. Not anymore.

A ‘thing’ about nostalgia

My geeky interests extend far beyond music and silly reality shows, and I’m going to conquer a few birds with one stone in this post. Though, I will talk about music in this post anyway, because.


Yesterday, FUNimation put a trailer up advertising another new DragonBall Z box set, this is it:

What this is is a collection of the first 53 episodes in their original, heavily edited dub produced by FUNimation using the Ocean voice group and music from Saban (the Power Rangers people), so basically back when they had to outsource these sorts of things. Following these 53 Episodes FUNi (as they’re casually known) did the rest of the series – and the movies, and the prequel and sequel series’- with their own in-house voice talent and composers. Because of the co-operative production, it took until about 2005 for FUNi to be able to go back and re-dub these first two seasons uncut to create consistency. They heavily marketed their re-dubs as being far superior, and with their ‘orange brick’ series of box sets, FUNimation had FINALLY created a consistent release of a show faced with an incredibly convoluted dubbing history. So the question is… why?

Just look at how its being marketed. They’ve run with the ‘Over 9000’ internet meme joke before, but this is the dub where it sprang from. It’s also the dub that gave us the infamous ‘Rock the Dragon’ theme and THAT is the selling point. It’s even the boxset’s name! The trailer is telling us these are the “original TOONAMI broadcasts”  and to “Rock the Dragon like its 1996!”. There are classic Peter Cullen commerical voiceover clips inserted. The VCR effects of the editing just add to the fact:

Nineties nostalgia is in right now.

And FUNimation know it. They are ignoring their previous efforts to create consistency and appealing to the fans who started watching DBZ during its original broadcast, who remembers the themes and the memes (rhyme) and want the cheesiness of it all. These episodes are probably not going to be remastered and have great video quality, and probably won’t contain the Japanese version either (maybe the movies, which were uncut). It’s the total antithesis of their previous strategy to give fans complete packages of remastered video, the original Japanese version, uncut, English voices with US music and English voices with Japanese music in cheap, affordable sets.

It’s also not like these episodes in this form haven’t been released before. Pioneer released all of this before in individual DVDs that have now gone out of print. FUNimation clearly must’ve had the rights for these versions returned to them and thought they might as well make an easy bit of cash off them. And they might as well, it seems a lot of tenties (as I officially call it) pop culture seems to be defined by nineties revivals. Let’s have a look at some examples.

  • Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although the animated series started in the 80s they were still on heavy repeat during the 90s and I fondly remember them still being popular. We’ve got a fourth Transformers and a new Ninja Turtles coming our way soon, ‘thanks’ to Michael Bay.
  • In 2010, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was re-broadcast with a new opening and comic book-y special effects added. When they finally made new episodes, called Power Rangers Samurai the original ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ theme was kept and remixed, and they brought back Bulk to appeal to old fans. There’s a big anniversary reunion episode coming up, although this happened in the Japanese version too so its not just an American pop culture thing.
  • Spyro was used to launch Skylanders. It wasn’t pretty.
  • In the UK, we’ve had a wave of nineties and early noughties music revivals. Take That did it in 2006 but recently we’ve had the Steps Reunion and The Big Reunion. These were tours and documentary series’ chock-full of nostalgia, tears, cheese and more tears. I loved every minute of it. OK, maybe not Kerry Katona’s singing.
  • This. 
  • Maybe a more clutching at straws example, but the three Final Fantasy titles on the original PlayStation still rank in the Top Ten PSone Classics list on the online stores worldwide. Those whole lists are nineties-tastic but these in particular are often highlighted as games people want to see remade the most, especially by me. Square Enix have been putting their older games onto the iOS and Google Play stores recently, with Final Fantasy V getting a brand new lick of paint. Next up, and highly anticipated is 1994’s Final Fantasy VI. 
  • One of the most popular nights in Cardiff (and admittedly my favourite) is called Cheesefest. You can guess the kind of music it plays.
  • Digimon and X-Men: The Animated Series have FINALLY got proper DVD releases!

I’ve sure there are loads more examples I’ve missed, but its clear us nineties kids who want to relive our childhoods are definitely being thought of by people who want our money. For me personally, if SONY wanted me to buy their underperforming PlayStation Vita handheld then they had better buy back the rights to Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon and get some of their smaller teams to start work on new games. Think about how good it’d be! Anything I’ve missed or ideas please pop in the comments below and remember, “life in plastic, its fantastic”.