Chris answers the phone. Too little, too late, Stella's beaten you on this and Jamie's got the overall win in Phone Wars. Chris is wearing a dressing gown but he doesn't flash us, spoilsport. I actually had a rude dream about Chris last night, maybe this was what caused it. I dreamt that it was his "best bits" on You're Hired and for a split second they showed a full-frontal shot of him in the shower. It was pretty small but I didn't seem to mind. Obviously everything was hairier than a barbershop floor. And nobody in the studio seemed to find it unusual that they'd show this on TV. Anyway back to what actually did get shown on TV in real life:
They've been summoned to a hotel of much poshtitude, where Karren and Nick have been standing for hours waiting for LdAlan, whose car hasn't even turned up yet. They will have assistance from a selection of fired candidates which notably doesn't include BallBaggs because LdAlan would probably shoot him on sight, such is his genuine and in no way manufactured-for-the-cameras abhorrence of him. As usual they pick their teams like it's football in the playground and Chris ends up with Jamie, Lizlocke, Alex and Dr Shibby; Stella with Joanne/a, Christopher, Melissa and, last to be picked because she smells of wee, Paloma. They will be competing in "one of the oldest trades in the world" but not the oldest, because when the girls' team tried that a few years ago they got a bollocking for it (they still won the task, mind.) No it's the same task as last year but with revolting alcoholic drinks instead of revolting chocolates. Chris will be followed by the Karren of Doom, so surely Stella fans relaxed at this point?
Stella will be going for the bourbon market, Chris for rum flavoured with something or other - POMEGRANATE! screams Alex repeatedly until everyone else on the team submits just to shut the fucker up. Apparently pomegranate's the big thing this year (2009, when this was filmed,) a memo I must have missed. Now they need names for their drinks - Stella's, being bourbon, is a muddy brown colour so for some reason they seem determined to have "blue" in the name somewhere. They think blue means happy, proving that nobody on Stella's team has ever hear a song, ever. Joanne/a thinks blue symbolises gay. Um. Eventually Stella has a flash of inspiration: "Bourbon! Urban! Urban bourbon! B-urban! Eclipse! Clips!" I got the impression they were going to call it "B-Urban" but once the bottle appears it seems to be "urbon" (all lowercase.) It's bourbon with honey and vanilla. Meanwhile Team Chris have gone for "Prism," a clear (he wishes) rum flavoured with pomegranate and "aromatic bitters." Oh shit, now I've got that Old El Paso advert in my head! "Aromatiiiiic, hur hur hur." Now I certainly remember him mentioning repeatedly the night before that the drink should be clear, as part of it appealing to both genders, and it's a big part of the design talks as well, so how Shibby and Lizlocke end up making it pink is anybody's guess (why is it always these kinds of decisions where they forget they have phones?) Finally for today, the TV adverts have to be cleared because of the particular restrictions that apply to advertising alcoholic drinks (which come down to "do not imply that anyone drinking this might enjoy themselves.") Paloma pitches the urbon ad, Chris the Prism one, both fall foul of the rules. Chris seems to be stuck there for ages as they're told the characters should dress like they're over 25. "A cardigan and a pipe then?" Well I find it funny but rulebook lady says they couldn't have the pipe 'cause of the no smoking rule. Karren has a grump about how far behind Chris is now but it's hardly his fault: It's blatantly obvious that neither team was given the rules in advance, because it would make funnier telly to have them develop their ads then have the whole thing rejected, as indeed happened.
Next morning the prototype bottles arrive. urbon's bottle is, well, it's a bottle. Prism's bottle is a deadly weapon, a murderous pink dildo designed to provide a comically gruesome death scene like the Mother Theresa Award in last week's Misfits. Prism "reflects every side of you" and its advert is taking a while to film because it shows them making a "Prismo" (Lizlocke is desperate to make this cocktail happen) but the barman seems unable to get pomegranate into the glass on camera. While Stella's ad is all Ed Wood style "first take, that'll do," Chris is still filming a close-up at 3pm and has half an hour to do the rest of it. So there's some bouncy women and it'll have to do.
Pitch day! As usual, the pitches will begin with some awful dancing for no reason. Does this happen at real product launches? If so it's totally not worth the free food and drink if you have to put up with that. Chris practices his speech and the other boys' reaction is, well, it's what you'd expect from Chris giving a speech. Jamie takes him outside and desperately tries to be an inspirational drama teacher and get him to speak as if he has human emotions. Meanwhile the girls are reenacting Week 2's boardroom catfight, Joanne/a constantly interrupting Stella's pitch and freaking out when Stella dares to look at Paloma. Has Paloma got a facial expression? Paloma denies having an expression, Gok Wan is too out of practice to properly get in the way and Christopher just holds his head in his hands, wondering what these women are doing yakking instead of taking turns giving him handjobs. Finally Stella threatens to hose them down or else Karren might come in and accuse them of breaking feminism.
Chris pitches first and (by Chris standards) sounds almost animated. That's after the requisite out-of-time dancing of course, which ends very abruptly. Prism is sophisticated, it costs £20 and it has a rubbish advert although I maintain that the idea behind it is actually pretty solid by Apprentice ad standards - the shots of different people going up to the bar as different characteristics are read out fits in with the "reflects every side of you" idea and tries to make up for the fact that the pink drink has automatically alienated most of the male market. He's overusing the word "iconic" with reference to the bottle but this is Chris The Low-Flying Bomber doing a speech and it's nowhere near as bad as you'd expect - he even gets a laugh and polite applause at a gag about the price of pomegranates falling.
After her own bad dancers, Stella's pitch which is really stilted - surprisingly more so than Chris'. We see her ad, in which the boys seem to be gaying it up a bit with a load of eyebrow-waggling at each other. She gets the audience on her side as well eventually, a question about the name alienating people who don't live in urban areas gets an "I'm hoping to move out to the country if this goes OK" joke which gets a laugh. Stella does mess it up a bit right at the last hurdle as she starts begging the audience for their support but overall both did pretty well. Let's face it, this was one year where nobody seemed to disagree with the two finalists, they were clearly the best two Apprenti out of the current batch but at the same time neither of them were there because of their presentation skills so at least they both managed to get through it.
Final boardroom! Ohmygod NotFrances has a face! Just for a split second but it's definitely there, a face! And she's got her hair up! The end is nigh. Both of them sent off other people to actually mix the drink, which seems a strange choice and LdAlan picks them both up on it, especially Stella. Thing is, yes the actual product is the most important thing but the mixing lab was in Bishops Stortford so both finalists had the same dilemma - either delegate the actual drink mixing or do it themselves and be absent for all the other jobs that day, which were all in That London. Given they were never going to launch the drinks for real and a genuine drink would have months/years of development as opposed to chucking some flavouring about in an afternoon, I think they both made the right choice. At the end of the day the task is more about the marketing than what the drink actually tastes like. Dr Shibby gets the blame for not opposing a pink drink for men, his medical specialty is bones and LdAlan hopes he never breaks his leg anywhere near Dr Shibby. That shouldn't be a problem should it? Didn't Shibby lose his license? I doubt he'll be operating on anyone anytime soon. Oh I do like how the teams are being really supportive of their leaders - in past years some of them have taken the opportunity to bring out old grudges even at this stage but they come off a lot better this way. Well Alex isn't being that loyal to Chris, obviously, because he's a weasel, and he's horribly misread the room (as usual) because LdAlan bitches at him for fence-sitting. Now the others can fuck off, there's hiring to be done. Well, two fake hirings to be filmed anyway, to have one selected in the edit. I mean, most years once the "final task" is over the finalists work at NotAmstrad for six months and LdAlan makes his decision just before the broadcast. With the delay this year did they really work for him for a year, at one point coinciding with the next series' filming? Imagine waiting a year to find out if you've got a job which only lasts a year anyway! I wonder exactly what the fuck happened with this series, I really do.
Anyway Chris better bottle, worse ad; Stella vinegar bottle, better ad, as if the final task itself is in any way relevant. They get sent out again, Nick fancies Stella, Karren wuvs Chris. Back they come again, LdAlan says something about this having been a tortuous 12 weeks and Stella smirks - Stella does a lot of smirking from this point on. They both get asked to do a last bit of begging, Stella once again sabotaging herself by taking a dig at Chris which he fights back at (this is not the time, Stella!) In weighing up the alternatives, LdAlan wonders if Stella's experience means she won't need training in how to work in this sort of organisation hey hey hey wait a minute, didn't that used to be that she was too "corporate" and NotAmstrad totally wasn't that kind of organisation so she's be out of place? Why, it's almost as if LdAlan's in no way consistent. Whatever, they're both strong contenders (to the point that, on the You're Hired show, LdAlan as good as offers Chris a job as well) but Stella, You're Hired. Stella is the Apprentice, while Chris goes off to join Alex, Lee, Rocky, Tuan and Simon Ambrose's Tiny Green Pants in lowculture's imaginary Apprentice gay porn movie. See you next year - hopefully back in the traditional summer slot, although I wouldn't be surprised if it gets stuck in its current place from now on.
¹in which the London Philharmonic Orchestra repeatedly played a composition by one Alistair Griffin, because apparently we now live in an alternate universe
²Iwan! Rheon's! Arse!