Pets and prizes. Sugar, Johnson and Hodge

Johnson reading closely. Portrait by Joshua Reynolds.
“Wealth cannot confer greatness, for nothing can make that great which the decree of nature has ordained to be little.” Samuel Johnson.

This week’s Apprentice opened with the candidates being summoned to Dr Johnson’s house to look at the memorial to his cat, Hodge, outside. This was the set-up for Lord Sugar to give them a pet-bothering task: “People will stop at nothing to pamper their pets, and the pet market is worth a massive 4.6 billion pounds per year. Now I want you to get a piece of that action…” Continue reading

Laura Palmer is dead, long live Laura Palmer

Laura Palmer - arms bending back

I watched the first series of Twin Peaks as a raw undergraduate at Manchester University, only a few months out of school. It was the only television I would actively stay in to watch, and it was the same for my Norwegian flatmate, who would sit fixedly for the 50 minutes in a state of quasi-religious ecstasy, reacting violently to any interruption. The what-happens-next excitement may no longer be there, but I love it no less nearly 25 years later, and I know I’m not alone. Continue reading

The terrible boredom of existential threats to the universe

terrible-boredom-headerSome of the best BBC dramas can be the most irritating. By the best I mean those they’re most pleased with, whose cushions they are forever plumping, whose production values are the most ambitious. Take, say, the increasingly indistinguishable Sherlock and Dr Who, for which the structure, pacing, editing, characterization, mannerisms, tics and assumptions have become hauntingly similar. Continue reading

A serious frivolity

Credit: Pixabay.

The BBC shows a programme called Eggheads, you may have seen it. A team of challengers made up from more-or-less ordinary members of the public tries to out-quiz a team of fact-bores. There’s a variant, Revenge of the Egghead, in which one of the bores, the one who looks like Jeff Goldblum playing a hairdresser, writhes in his chair, coiling and uncoiling himself and sneering like someone auditioning for a part as a villain in Jungle Book—a villain of no real evil, no desire to tempt or corrupt, just a childish vanity that needs to be fed by scoring off others at Trivial Pursuits. Continue reading