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Thursday, March 23, 2006


Like a becalmed sailboat catching a sudden breeze, an hour or so back, the screen rippled and i was online again. natch, i had my priorities wrong and uploaded tons of fotos and didn't think of editing my earlier posts.

you'd think that, depending on the kindness of strangers, i'd be keeping my tapping down to the succinct and pertinent but no ... long winded to the end. God, i bore myself.

Blazing Thurs afternoon (see my Flickrd snaps from the top of the good old Clapham Junction - Battersea - Chelsea omnibus, particularly the shots of the Thames agleam).

Grumpen: I meant to revise and clip my burblings on our local "Apprentice" with the lumpen  Alan Sugar playing a very poor second to the coxcomb Trump.

I watched another episode last night - the guys and gals competing to come up with an ad campaign for Sugar's "concierge" jet service for the money-encumbered.

I think I've nailed it: Sugar lacks any screen presence, atop which he never once expresses interest or approval. The Donald is an expert at setting traps with a compliment here, a benefit of the doubt there, luring his fold into overstepping the mark. Sugar's TV personna is pure curmudgeonry and v boring it is, too - to us, to them, and no doubt to himself. Clearly, he didn't get where he is by being a sulky twat but he's been done no service by editors, any twinkle of fun or enthusiasm for the commercial chase having been edited out.

Saccharined: To one candidate, he tells her she's "light-weight ... you're fired."

If anyone's lite, it's The Sugar: I've not yet heard a single original line; the script has been lifted wholesale, down to DT's dismissive catchline - from the US show and damn'd silly it sounds too in estuary english and brusque cockney. At least they could have had him growl, "Yer saccharined!".

Maintaining the uncertain feel is the pansy narrative they've settled for, some neutral (and neutered)voice that fails to deliver any sense of drama or gravitas.

The original genius, Mark Burnett, is also responsible here and i can only assume that Mr Trump tipped him a hint not to have Sugar come off in any way better than him. I also suspect that Mr Sugar (actually, he's a "Sir" but out of respect for that honour i choose to review his lamentable performance as if pre-dating the gong) is a better (and more private) man than the camera captures, comfier with a balance sheet among trusted colleagues than wondering self-consciously from moment to moment how he's coming off.

Basically, this is a 100% American concept and any Brit contingent can only do their best to mimic their transatlantic counterparts.

Coup de grâce: the moment when the Big Guy comes thru that door and seats himself at the chair of judgement is tailor-made for The Don who milks it for every ounce of drama and regal pomposity. Sugar merely enters like some crumple-featured janitor who's taken the wrong door.

As for the henchpersons - brilliantly cast in the US version with shrewd George and secret star, the glacially sexy Caroline - Sir Al has agreed to some drab bloke with nothing to contribute and a granite jawed lady in whom I sense potential but who is disastrously unfanciable and hence deservedly underused.

One of the joys of the Trump version is how he defers to his colleagues. Sugar clearly sees this as a weakness and poses mere token agree-with-me questions before making his own leaden pronouncement.

I would predict that this will also come over to the US as a cross-over money maker, except for the fact that it so closely mimics the US script to no good effect whatsoever.

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