Did we like it?
More acts from a travelling circus of sideshow freaks peddling financial firewater, along with earnest entrepreneurs with their accounts tattooed on their arms and bumbling idiots who eschew business sense in the same way as mammals once scorned lungs stumble into the lair of five egotistical tycoons to be either delightfully ripped to shreds or piously patronised.
What was good about it?
• It wasn’t England v Spain.
• Evan Davis was as jolly as ever attacking each link with the fresh joy of a lonely, socially-awkward scientist discovering a cure for a deadly illness now realising people finally want to listen to him. But he does employ that BBC presenter trademark of doing little leaps on an exclamatory part of a monologue (Gary Lineker does the same) that shudder through his body like an electric shock.
• The stern stamp of disgust that the Dragons often made in crushing the dreams of the entrepreneurs. This was especially refreshing given the contrived nature of Dragons’ Den’s diluted doppelganger Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway. Peter Jones venomously lambastes an idea he regards as stupid with little concern as to how it makes him look, while the odious, septic Jeffry Archer seeks to manipulate each person on Fortune in order to appear grander (rather futile and embarrassing as it always looks like dog shit getting glammed up to meet the Queen).
• We admired Steve Wright, who wanted investment in his website to offer educational tools to disadvantaged children. While we saluted his “noble cause”, we had most respect for him because the figure he was asking for of £147,000 seemed to have been properly calculated and not lazily rounded up to the nearest £10,000.
• We know it is shameless viewer manipulation, but the way in which the initial pitch of many of the entrepreneurs is superficially professional and flawless until one of the Dragons uses their nous to pick a hole in it, a hole through which the other Dragons then flood with their own scorn makes for marvellous television. This week it was Gilly, who was eager for money to expand her pharmaceutical stress-relief product range. At first, her business seemed to be, noted Peter, “too good to be true”; and soon it became apparent she didn’t know her turnover from her profits and was quickly despatched.
• At last some of the predictability was removed and a pitch that didn’t start at about 8.45pm was successful. On second were Anthony and Alistair who wanted to expand their refrigerated food delivery service. Not only did they manage to hold the Dragons attention despite being involved in perhaps the dullest industry in modern commerce, after property development, but they managed to get bids from all five; even Peter, who had earlier gone “out” (but his hastiness seemed to be more that he could crowbar in a jibe that the pair “had left their heads in the deep freeze” than for economical reasons).
• The silliest idea of the show was Mike’s drive safe glove, which was marketed to British drivers when driving abroad to remind them which side of the road they need to be on. It was laughed out of the Den, as its market was only for the educationally sub-normal who can’t tell their right from their left (but given the number of people who use the phrase “water cooler TV” every day, perhaps there is a large enough market for this product).
• Tallying up the number of times Debra purses her lips with scintillating derision before giving a little shake of the head.
• Duncan Bannatyne’s slightly strained efforts to inject some drama into the Dragons’ deliberations. With Gilly, he claimed that “the other four are talking rubbish”, before dismissing their rebukes of him with: “Do you want to shout and scream like children?” Before condescendingly ‘explaining’ profit projections to Peter, “Three times 12 is 36”; which elicited a tart retort from a bristling Peter, “I’m not going to thank you for the financial lesson, Duncan.”
• Lovable reggae musician/chef Levi Roots (“My real name is Keith”). As he strode into the Den at about 8.45pm, he was obviously going to succeed but he won us, and the Dragons, over anyhow by serenading them with a song about his Reggae Reggae Sauce. It must have been quite a catchy tune as even Richard Farley was tapping his finger to the rhythm and he has a soul in the same way North Korea has personal liberty.
• Even though he mistook a business proposition from a meat supplier as a definite order and the amount of sauce they wanted as 2.5m litres instead of 2,500 litres, Levi’s charm provoked the usually pragmatic Peter Jones to take on this “impossible challenge”, and he was soon joined by Richard as they each put up £25,000 for a 20% stake. And as Levi, still singing, wandered down the stairs to meet a beaming Evan, everybody was happy and joyous.
What was bad about it?
• Perhaps they’ve always done this, but each Dragon’s tendency to refer to themselves and their colleagues as “Dragons” may show that they are starting to believe their own publicity.
• Richard Farley’s hair seems to be exponentially expanding as if trying to recreate the land bridge that once existed between Alaska and Siberia.
• “Richard Farley is based in Monaco.” We’re instinctively distrustful of anyone who lives in Monaco as it suggest they have excommunicated themselves from the rest of inferior society and think they are worthy to enter what is essentially a heaven on earth for the corpulently avaricious.
• Appearing to promote the show on Richard & Judy, Duncan and Debra agreed with Richard that Dragons’ Den had become “water cooler TV”. If that is the case, then can you pack away all the nice things we’ve said about it while we nip off to get a spade with which we’ll dig its grave? “Water cooler TV” is such a noxious notion that we would only appear on Dragons’ Den to pitch our invention that releases a gas that rapidly causes nausea, vomiting and death to anybody who opens their gob to talk about TV while pouring a drink from the water DISPENSER.
• We mention this not only to express our rage, but to also perhaps explain why there is such a plethora of recaps. Evan Davis recapped dialogue pretty much word for word from Steve Wright’s pitch only seconds after it was broadcast. And after Levi had been successful Evan said: “Some of your figures were all over the place.” Cut to a black and white (it’s so much more meaningful) replay of Richard telling Levi he’d got his sums wrong, which had all happened about five minutes before. Is Dragons’ Den now exclusively aimed at the primordial morons who talk about TV around a “water cooler”?
• When, on one of his many recaps, Evan exclaimed that Steve needed £147,000, was it necessary to show a pile of Dragons’ money to present to the viewer what a fortune looks like?