The Crystal Maze is on tonight

By | July 20, 2018

At 8pm on Channel 4. They’re probably counting this civilian run as series five, so if they split the six episodes down the middle and air the others at a later date that can be series six and then that makes this reboot as successful as the original, actually.

Tonight is especially interesting as occasional Bar commenter Will is a contestant. Let’s hope he doesn’t make a tit of himself! But if he does the last celeb special consolidated under a million, so there probably won’t be any repercussions anyway.


By | July 19, 2018

About a fortnight ago we pondered “whatever happened to IQTV?” The high-class quiz streaming service was due to launch in July. And after months of not very much, it appears to be launching next week and you’ll be able to watch through Virgin Media as well as various apps and for £3.49 a month promises to be “the exclusive home to the country’s favourite intelligent quiz TV shows and brain games” [apart from Youtube]. [And Challenge.] [And sometimes Dave.]

I honestly can’t see this doing anything at all, the initial offering appears to be ‘over 100 episodes’ which doesn’t sound like a great deal for the repository it’s set itself out to be. Also I can’t claim to be a massive quiz nerd so it’s probably not for me, but they are aiming for an ABC1 50+ demo so fair enough really.

If I’m to buy into it it would need something unique and difficult – obscure shows, or even US Jeopardy or something. Still I wish it best of luck, their webpage is here.

Just a little Crush

By | July 18, 2018

We were alerted to a new Spanish format yesterday, Crush. In it, two teams made up four civillians and a celebrity captain answer questions by standing underneath safes. People under the wrong safes get crushed.

Not literally of course, they’re very obviously just hollow boxes and thus it’s not especially shocking, and without any sort of reaction not especially comic either. Here’s the pitch tape:

A run down of the rules: in the first round each team faces three questions, the first one with five choices, then four then three and two answers are wrong each time. They must decide how to arrange themselves to have as many people standing under correct answers as possible – losing players hurts so they need to spread if they’re not sure. Every surviving player earns the team €200 after question one, a further €300 for Q2 and a further €400 on question three, with (as I can work out) a €1,000 bonus if the celeb captain is still alive. Crushed losers are shown in “Limbo”, where they wear angel wings and communicate from a green screened heavenly backdrop. No real idea what happens if everyone on a team gets crushed at the end of this first phase, but it probably won’t make the second phase very exciting. This round is Million Pound Drop A Safe On Your Head, basically.

Before round two it looks like both teams are allowed to resurrect one of their angels. This round features duels, one person on each team will stand under a safe, in turn they’ll be fired anagrams with clues which have to solved within 15 seconds. Doing so correctly hands control to your opponent, not managing it means getting crushed and replaced by someone else on your team. The last team with anyone standing is the winner and presumably get to keep the earned money and go through to the end game. This bit is basically Still Standing Under A Safe, which seems brave given that Still Standing (Ahora Caigo) is still a going concern in Spain, I believe.

The final round has any remaining contestants from the winning team attempt to answer five questions in 90 seconds for €30,000. These questions fall into the numerical (how many minutes in a day?) and the host offers “higher” and “lower” as clues, or reeling off answers to a factual question in the hope you find the right one (who won the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup?). This struggles to be especially tense.

As a format it doesn’t do a great deal massively wrong but it is veeeery derivative, and as I’ve suggested the central set-piece to the entire thing isn’t especially great. So there we are. With the dark arts you can watch the first episode here, if you want. It’s very much got the next Money Pump written all over it.


By | July 15, 2018

Did anyone see this on Saturday night? I completely forgot it was on but caught up with it on ITV Hub. Melvin Odoom adds rather unnecessary commentary over clips from Japanese game and prank shows.

So far, so Tarrant on TV. But rather curiously in the credits there’s a suggestion that if you go to you can watch full episodes the clips came from. But there’s not much there – in fact it’s a different logo to the one used on TV. What’s all that about?


By | July 13, 2018

I know that headline is a bit “local paper” but there we are. I watched the premiere of Mark Burnett’s new CBS physical competition show TKO (Total Knockout – part Total Wipeout, part It’s a Knockout). And it’s surprisingly OK!

Five people take on the TKO obstacle course one at a time and the fastest round wins $50,000. Second place wins $5,000, then $2,500, $1,000 and $0. The course consists of four zones, a sort of perspex wall ledge thing, a balance beam thing, some wobbly platforms and finally some rolling beams called “The Grinder”. These are tough but largely fair obstacles. The fun is that whilst one person is running the course, the other four are manning battle stations and try and knock them off the course with various projectiles. It’s kind of Hit and Run/Danger Zone off of Gladiators mixed with The Eliminator off of Gladiators. The first time a contestant falls from an obstacle is a “Knockout” and they must try again. The second time is a “Total Knockout” and they can move on to the next zone with a minute penalty added to the end. On the final obstacle there is also a “time capsule” which if grabbed deducts 90 seconds from the overall time.

I was initially rather sceptical that watching an obstacle course run five times would sustain over an hour but surprisingly it works quite well. Given that the order the contestants run shouldn’t really matter – everybody runs and everybody gets a go at each station – the angle they’ve gone for, that of “defending your money,” and giving people skill-based means to slow players up actually makes for quite an entertaining narrative. Whatsmore because projectiles in some of the zones are limited or one-use, there’s some quite fun strategy/psyche-out chat going on. If I had one criticism of the format, it’s that it looks a little bit like on a few of the zones just immediately taking the dive twice and moving on would be quicker than actually completing successfully which is never really what you want to aim for.

Kevin Hart’s a fun host, doing contestant chat before each run and commentating and encouraging and laughing from the gantries. As he goes round with the contestant surprisingly dynamic as well. He seems to find the whole thing a lot funnier than I did, the obstacles don’t quite have the pratfall element of something like Wipeout for example.

The fastest winners across the series come back for the end of season “battle royale” for $100,000. Can it sustain across an entire season? Don’t know, especially if it’s going to be the same obstacles each time. But whilst the show isn’t a must watch, it manages to be a surprisingly entertaining hour.