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The Broadcast Awards 2011 announced, with one glaring ommission.

3 Dec

The Broadcast Awards were announced today; the media industry version of the BAFTAs that lacks any of the glitz but has some credibility thanks to a Broadcast Now magazine subscription being on every media corporation’s Christmas list.

But a quick look down the shortlist of the awards screamed out an ommission that I can’t possibly find any justification for…

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URBAN FOX: The Other Guys – film review

30 Sep

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson

Some films are brilliant classics, others woeful piles of crap. Others are merely average and fill a need, junk food for the mind.  The Other Guys is like that.

I love Will Ferrell but I am fully aware many people do not. In fact often things people find repellent I am strangely drawn to, such as the Tom Green epic Freddy Got Fingered and the wilfully esoteric The Brothers Solomon. I love comedy that is weird, silly and goes for my comedy jugular.

Broadly I would say this is a spoof. The basic plot is that two super star cops played by The Rock and Samuel L Jackson get all the attention, while two desk jockeys (strait laced Will Ferrell and angry Mark Wahlberg) do all the work they don’t. References to action movie clichés come thick and fast as the pair get investigate a large scale fraud.

Spoofs are harder to get right than people think. A good spoof should be played straight. Sadly for The Other Guys, that played straight spoof was already out and this was called Hot Fuzz.

It is similar in a way to how Zombieland was thematically similar to Shaun Of The Dead, albeit louder, cruder and more obvious. This doesn’t mean they are  bad films, in fact Zombieland was very enjoyable.

With The Other Guys, there are good moments but it doesn’t bind together into a whole. The cameos by The Rock and Samuel L Jackson are fantastic and the moments that spoof action films are fantastic.

Sadly the buddy interaction between Wahlberg and Ferrell is for the most part quite predictable. It is still funny but I can’t shake the feeling Ferrell is capable of much better. I couldn’t help thinking that if it was John C Reilly, Will Arnett or a more seasoned comedian it would have flowed a bit better, as opposed to occasionally funny moments.

Then there are the end credits. We were hoping for outtakes and instead got Michael Moore statistics on Ponzi schemes and fraud. While I can see the argument for spreading debate via popular entertainment, it seemed a bit too crude.

Oh I nearly forgot the saving grace of this film and his name is Steve Coogan, the man who has been in some of my favourite comedies (including the wonderful Curb Your Enthusiasm).

In short, I had a good time, but it was more the fact I was watching the film with friends and going out. It is always a bit disappointing when a film reminds you of other, better films.

– URBAN FOX

aka. Will Turner (writer, creator of Reynard City)

MEDIA BITCH: Who will be the ‘Phoenix Idiot’ on The Apprentice this year?

22 Sep

It happens on every season of The Apprentice.

And not just in the UK, but I’ve watched through the American, Irish and Australian versions and the same thing happens every time. The very first task on each series is to decide a team name for each side (usually males vs. females) and there’ll all spend a ridiculous amount of time debating the appropriate name that they want to convey who they are and what they are about. And there it is, every time (I’m willing to put a wager down that it will again). A voice will pipe up, the rest will go silent, and the same statement will echo around the room:

“What about Phoenix?”

And whether they ultimately choose it or not, they seem to always agree that it’s a great suggestion. These statements will usually come out to:

“Yeah, it’s like us – rising out of the ashes and into something great. It’s so perfect and majestic!”

“It’s about rebirth and spreading your wings, something grandiose and powerful like us.”

And the word ‘Phoenix’ is attributed to rather romantic thoughts, but it’s just ‘so’ cringeworthy a suggestion that I always grimace when a usually hopeless candidate suggests it. It’s just so… obvious.

Thankfully the name has actually only been selected once in all English speaking versions of The Apprentice (on the first series of the Irish version), but it is nearly always in the hat at the suggestions table. If I ever get on the show I’m going to make sure I nominate the ‘Phoenix Idiot’ into the board room at any opportunity it arises.

Take a look at all the other team names that have been chosen on The Apprentice over the years, see how many times you cringe as you scroll down.

UK Version

Season One – First Forte and Impact

Season Two – Invicta and Velocity

Season Three – Eclipse and Stealth

Season Four – Alpha and Rennaisance

Season Five – Empire and Ignite

American Version

Season One – Protégé  and Versacorp

Season Two – Apex and Mosaic

Season Three –  Magna and Net Worth

Season Four – Capital Edge (hahaha) and Excel

Season Five – Gold Rush and Synergy

Season Six – Kinetic and Arrow

Season Seven – Empresario (apparently Spanish for ‘entrepreneur’) and Hydra

Season Eight – Athena and Kotu (one of the worst, it stands for ‘Kings Of The Universe’)

Season Nine – Rocksolid and Tenacity

Season Ten – Fortitude and Octane

Irish Version

Season One – Phoenix (yay!) and Dynamo

Season Two – Platinum and Cúchulainn (the name of an Irish mythological hero, the nation’s Achilles apparently)

Season Three – Fusion and Elev8 (yuk)

Australian Version

Season One – Eventus and Pinnacle

New Zealand Version

Season One – Athena and Number 8 (what?)

Brazil Version

(just, you know, because someone might be interested)

Season One – Ginga Brasil and Solidez

Indian Version

They don’t tend to even have names, their version is split into four smaller teams and don’t bother with petty things like team names.

My personal favourites, in terms of high cringe-factor, include: Elev8, Versacorp, Stealth and Capital Edge – that last one is simply ridiculous. But remember that many of the first tasks are really simple and degrading, and having to use some corporate shiny name to phone up fruit suppliers (“hi there, we are from Team Fusion. Can we have some free apples from you please?”) will just make you sound like a lemon.

What’s in a name anyway? Does it really matter?

Probably not, but I have instant respect for the team that chooses a name that doesn’t want me to vomit every team it’s uttered for the twelve weeks after it’s chosen.

– MB

MEDIA BITCH: BT Openzone – the bane of all smart phone users.

22 Sep

Picture the scenario:

You’re sat on a train (or the tube) and remember you have that new smart phone in your pocket. The train is about to head off into a long tunnel and you suddenly realise you haven’t checked for that important email you’re expecting. You whip the phone out and click onto the Mail app to quickly check whether it’s arrived, the train fast approaching the tunnel and signal about to wane. But no! You’re hooked onto the bastard BT Openzone Wifi connection, through no choice of your own, and therefore nothing that needs the internet works! Which means you’re in the dark (literally) and those last few seconds of potential 3G were wasted.

This is, for me at least, a surprisingly common occurance. I’ll be sat on the tube and want to quickly update my newspaper app (which needs about 30 seconds to download all the days stories) before entering the underground tunnels. And to do that I have to fully turn off Wifi because BT Openzone, that seems to cover every metropolitan part of the country, doesn’t allow non-members to use their service – even though it automatically connects without asking at all. If I forget this I’ll be waiting crucial seconds waiting for the newspaper to load the stories, and then it’ll twig after about 20 seconds that the damned BT Wifi was connected. And by then the train has entered the tunnel and all hope is lost.

If I had notifications for emails or Twitter or Facebook – or whatever crazy sites the kids use these days – and find out I’ve been hooked to BT’s intrusive internet connection the whole time (and therefore missed all notifications) then I’d be, to put it mildly, pretty miffed off.

Yes, I realise that £5 a month (which BT Openzone charges to actually connect) isn’t much – but I have a free Wifi at home and work, plus I’m perfectly happy using my 3G when I’m in-between those places. I use it a tiny amount of times (to check emails and load newspaper articles between home and work). When I have to manually go to settings and turn off Wifi (and when I get home I have to then turn it back on) then it gets increasingly annoying as time goes on.

Why can’t BT Openzone just be locked for the non-members? It means people don’t constantly get connected and annoyed, the members (or people that want to use it) can very simply connect by choosing the BT Openzone connection in their settings.

Whenever I see BT Openzone, or even just adverts for BT, I resent them for all those times I’ve had to sit on the tube with nothing to do but regret not picking up a Metro whilst cheekily peering over at the person’s newspaper next to me.

– MB