49 thoughts on “Lateral

  1. Chris M. Dickson

    Very good, and very much to my taste. This progressed at a very decent pace and – in something that is very out-of-character for me to say – it wouldn’t have hurt to have slightly more of the discursive, chatty parts between questions. Tom is so friendly and the contestants are already all so YouTube-savvy that there is a relationship between host and contestants that’s more akin to a comedy quiz than to a straightforward Q-and-A one. Perhaps the questions may well get more difficult in later rounds, but the starting-point seems very sweetly judged.

    Tom has said “leave ’em wanting more” about, e.g., trying new formats as opposed to Citation Needed with the Technical Difficulties team, but I very much hope that this gets more than one series.

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    1. David B

      Regarding the ‘discursive’ element, this is partly because I didn’t have time to brief Tom properly and go through all the questions and backgrounds. In reality, there is more fun to be had in some of the debriefs. We were aiming for around 20 minutes, and it was edited down quite heavily to what I would call ‘YouTube pace’. All that said, I think it would need an extra round to fill it out to a half-hour terrestrial slot, but I have ideas for that.

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  2. Will Tennant

    Perfect starting episode, tense stuff, thumbs up!

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  3. Nico W.

    I really liked this! It’s been a long time since I last thought “Wow, this show was too short”, but this could have been 8 minutes longer in my opinion. But I’m not sure how this will feel with other teams, so maybe this is a good length. I would have liked another round though. The wall round was not entirely my taste, but all in all it had great play along value!

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    1. David

      Agreed. This was exceptionally good, and probably the best new format I’ve seen since… well, Only Connect itself. The final round felt like it was going to be a blowout from the way it was explained, but that was legitimately exciting in a way I haven’t seen on a quiz show in years and years. Very well done.

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  4. CeleTheRef

    Just heard on L’Eredità:

    Q: Animal similar to a skunk: F…
    A: Turkey!
    (it was “ferret”)

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  5. Alex McMillan

    Feels like a retooled, more competitive version of Million Dollar Mind Game. Absolutely adored it, great stuff.

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  6. Dash

    I’ve heard through adverts that The Apprentice got cancelled. Can someone clarify this?

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    1. Alex

      Is this like the spam adverts online that claim Dragon’s Den is axed?

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      1. Nico W.

        Interestingly there are the same ads with the same format in Germany. Why are they so interesting for spam people?

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  7. Kniwt

    Episode 2 is up. This really could fit right in before Only Connect on BBC Two (or, at the very least, in a newcomer’s spot on BBC Four). I wonder whether Tom, David, et al. made, or are considering making, a pitch?

    The question with the three latitudes and longitudes was brilliant.

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    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I really was doing a lot of shouting at the screen watching this episode, especially on that third board.

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    2. David B

      Belated credit for the initial idea for the lat/long one to Alex McMillan, for it was he.
      We are trying to find a suitable way to get this in front of the relevant decision makers.

      Reply
  8. Chris M. Dickson

    Second episode was very good and very neatly edited; in the both-teams-on-the-buzzer part at the end of round one, you could actually hear the teams conferring and thinking things out one at a time, when in reality they must have been talking over each other.

    As far as I can tell episode one has received floods of vocal enthusiasm, though the raw watch count appears to be relatively low for Tom’s channel, even relative to other videos Tom has done of comparable length (mostly Citation Needed). I’d be curious to know if there is some sort of metric of “people who have watched all the way through” and whether the show is performing well in that regard, as a sort of para-Appreciation Index.

    A tip of the cap to Brig for organising post titles so that Lateral appears on top of Thinking!

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    1. David B

      Well, Ep 1 has got 126k views in one week, compared to – say – Cit Needed S7E1 which has garnered 161k views since November 2017. So, from a standing start, it is at least comparable to, and may slightly outperform, CN. Why longer videos get fewer clicks than shorter ones is not for me to analyse, but I believe the 3-minuters are easier for ‘aggregator’ websites to promote as their Viral of the Day.

      I don’t think Tom would mind me revealing that this the best feedback he’s ever had to a new series.

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  9. Chris M. Dickson

    Very idle thought. Is there anyone collecting and cataloguing these made-for-the-web game shows, and web versions of existing game shows? It wouldn’t come as a surprise if someone on gameshows.ru had done this already, though obviously I’d be relying on Google Translate in order to find out.

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    1. Brig Bother Post author

      We’ve had plenty of call for a new web/streaming category for next year’s Poll, and possibly a Radio one as well. Definitely see merits in both.

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  10. Chris M. Dickson

    This is probably the least off-topic place to put this: Em and I have finally got round to watching the end of the most recent series of Only Connect! It has been a glorious series. The questions were plenty good enough; I haven’t been paying attention sufficiently closely to compare them to those of other series, but they were plenty good enough, possibly without having any mind-blowingly great questions that stick in the mind. On the other hand, on aggregate, the teams were definitely at least as delightful as in any other series I can remember, probably even more so; there were several teams who fell along the way who were total delights, and obviously I am thrilled with the winners. (There have been plenty of really lovely teams in past series, but I don’t think a series has yet had quite as many lovely teams as this one.) The final was delightful, from the gimmick at the start and end to the walls to to the missing vowels meta. Hurrah, and another place in my Golden Five ballot is all but guaranteed.

    I will say that 37 episodes per year is probably more of a good thing than I would prefer; as much as we have been able to make our way through the whole of series 13, series 12 was the first one where I got so far behind that it became a chore rather than a pleasure and so I gave up. (I also have a suspicion that there could be some imaginative way to extend the semi-final / quarter-final metaphor to non-negative-power-of-two fractions of a final for non-elimination matches in the winner’s bracket of double elimination systems, but haven’t sat down and quite worked it out yet.)

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    1. Weaver

      Riffing off Chris’s final point…

      So I’ve spent the past week watching the College World Series of softball. It alternates double-elimination and best-of-three phases in a way that would make a BBC2 scheduler cry.

      But then I see the tournament structure for Lateral, and think – hey, they’ve used the softball Regionals. Four teams enter, there’s a double-elimination structure, and we’ve a winner in six games. Two teams make the final after securing two wins, one has a loss.

      I have two problems. 1) bending this sort of tournament to get exactly 37 games from 16 teams; and B) making the structure even more complex than the one Only Connect used this year.

      (Personally, I’d run both OC and UC as 31-week tournaments, but BBC2 needs the share of viewers.)

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    2. Chris M. Dickson

      Another corking Lateral, but while we’re (and by which I mean I’m) talking Only Connect, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast episode with Only Connect’s Escapologists’ Laura Mizon talking about the world’s worst quiz contestant. Thoroughly enjoyable and very fannish. I wonder if Laura visits the Bar?

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  11. David B

    I know we don’t spell it out in precise detail, but the number of people that complain about (a) where the points have gone, and (b) why we don’t give more time to the *losing* team, is surprising.

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    1. Chris M. Dickson

      It would be amusing if Lateral‘s smart viewers made these complaints and Gladiators‘ family audiences didn’t make the counterpart ones, back in the day. Perhaps it would be easier to understand if players started earning time (rather than points) throughout the game, just like in Supermarket Sweep.

      Another very good episode and if (if!) the final turns out to be a repeat of the first match in the series, with its exciting conclusion, then it will speak well of the double elimination system to resolve the injustices of a single elimination knockout which draws the two strongest teams against each other at first. I’m tempted to wonder what a commissioner might feel that she or he had to change to make this show ready for broadcast, other than adding a set and (hopefully) paying everyone involved.

      At the risk of a minor etiquette breach, some comments about the most recent from a Slack I’m on:

      (commenter1) I love this show but I’m like team pinky and can’t answer any of them to save my life
      The only one I got this week was dictionary and only because that riddle is quite widely known

      (commenter2) I feel like I’m getting more of them on trivia knowledge than I am on actual lateral thinking
      Like, the clues for one of the round 2 puzzles connected because I’d been watching Tom’s previous panel show thing ((posts link to an episode of Citation Needed)), not through any actual cleverness on my part

      (commenter3) i did okay on episode 1, fairly well on episode 2, and really poorly on episode 3

      (commenter4) My wife and I both thought the puzzles were much more trivia than lateral thinking, except maybe for the grid stage. The early puzzles seem to be entirely trivia.

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      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Perhaps it should have been titled ‘Tricky’, as in there’s usually a trick to each question.

        Thought Team Pinky got some pretty tough final round questions compared to Team Terminator, but can’t really complain about the result. Got quite a few questions before the teams this week, and not just become some of them were reused on WWW.

        I think I might have upped the base time to two minutes to increase the chance of swing. It’s not really all that fast paced anyway.

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        1. David B

          If the final was 2 minutes baseline, show 1 would feel like it went on forever.

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      2. Matt Clemson

        Actually, on the subject of awarding time rather than points, I wonder if it’d work as a ‘tug of war of time’, if we did want a system that made it quite clear how the score difference deficit results in a lead in the final round.

        It might be a bit To Me, To You, though.

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        1. Brig Bother Post author

          I think a problem with that is that you run the risk of a game a) finishing too quickly or b) never finishing, fun as it is as an idea.

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          1. Matt Clemson

            I just really meant as a way of displaying the scores for the first two rounds to make the conversion apparent. Although I do note that Tom does have a big pile of questions and I’d like to see him get through more of them!

      3. David B

        It upsets me when people say the questions are just trivia. Maybe you’ve heard a couple of the stories before, but they’re hardly “What is the capita of Croatia”?

        I think Lateral is a more self-explanatory peg to hang our hat onto than Ingenius or whatever the alternative would be.

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  12. Alex

    I did get a couple of these just because I watched BB’s Что? Где? Когда? last week.

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    1. Cheesebiscuits

      Were all of the first round from BB does What? Where? When? This week? It felt like I had seen them all before. The second and third rounds were still just as tricky though!

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      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Just reading some of the comments on this episode, some classic point missing.

        This said I did always think there was something slightly off about the final round (and said as such down the pub), in that much I can agree with the commenters a bit, partly its non-quickfire quickfiredness, partly the kicking a team when they’re down element.

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        1. Nico W.

          You are right about “kicking the losing team when they are down”. This only works on De Slimste because of the players deducting seconds from their opponents. If the questions in the final were more like the Questions Pour Un Champion/ Going For Gold finale ones, you could let the losers start with their clock and once they give the right answer they could chose whether to knock 10/15 seconds off the opponents’ clock and keep playing (which would see them lose time while trying to figure out the answer) or passing the game onto the opponents so they could lose time answering the questions themselves, but also knock seconds off your clock if they chose so with a right answer. Maybe this would also let the teams seem stuck less often with some questions.

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          1. Nico W.

            Oh and in my humble opinion this could just work with Quetions Pour Un Champion-style questions because they don’t come in little bits of hints, but as a long string of hints making it easier to gamble and play on than the current way of asking would.

          2. Brig Bother Post author

            I don’t think chess clock quizzes, like poker quizzes, really work that well despite the idea seemingly being a thrilling one. They’re mainly built around failure, and rarely end up being all that exciting – if someone gets a decent lead, it’s very difficult for the other person to do anything about it, especially when being played by people of roughly the same skill level.

            It’s the same reason “let’s double the points!” doesn’t really work in a lot of cases, because if you were good at something before, you’ll likely be just as good after. That’s why in games of increasing stakes (which is perfectly fine), I prefer it to be a slightly different discipline, or at least a decent twist on the main formula.

          3. Chris M. Dickson

            FWIW, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, as I had done all the others.

            I’ll stand up for chess clock style quizzes, just for the potential to get an exciting conclusion as seen in the first episode – and a blowout is always going to be a blowout no matter what form the final takes. Taking this a step further, in Grand Slam and Les 12 Coups de Midi, the action tended to swap from player to player and back much more frequently than it does here. The final of De Slimste Mens isn’t a chess clock as such but it does have some common ground, though the time reduction element is a clever gameplay motif that would be hard to replicate elsewhere. I know that the gap between question and clues is rather shorter in the final than it is in round one, but (remaining fair to both teams) perhaps it might be worth considering shortening it further still to encourage more correct answers and more swapping from team to team. Alternatively, and this is going to come across far more negatively than I intend because the teams are delightful, highly accomplished and evidently very capable, if you were to cast for hardcore quiz types then you might get more back-and-forth in the finals.

            As another data point I had forgotten what the question at the start of the show was by the end of the show, so when the answer came up I had to go back and listen to what the question was again. This might point to it being worth repeating the question from the start of the show at the end – but, as another data point, this is the first time I had forgotten it, though. (My guess was “being Angela Lansbury’s character on Murder She Wrote…”)

          4. Brig Bother Post author

            The idea behind Grand Slam was certainly one that looked like it’d be good on paper, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it, but in reality games were rarely close, and someone taking a 45-60 second lead into the final (I never liked the loser-of-the-last-round-starts-the-next aspect) was pretty standard, and with most of the quizzers being high class the ending was just staving off the inevitable.

            I don’t know if 12 Coups still does this, but when it was Cresus when the clock went down beneath a certain level, 3 seconds I think it was, it was an automatic loss if it came back to you. I ponder if instead every question should become sudden death for you if your clock has hit zero so you still have an outside chance. At least the disadvantage of going first is down to score and that’s otherwise the only disadvantage.

            Somebody should go through all the episodes of Two Tribes and determine how many finals were tight. Ultimately the first episode of Lateral had an exciting final, the second mildly interesting, the other two much less so, and if the last two episodes have dodgy finals you have to wonder if the excitement hit rate is too low to be reliably entertaining.

          5. Alex

            I’ve just had a quick look at a 12 Coups episode, and they did play the game out, even when a player had under 3 seconds left (also I remember the clock in Crésus changing from yellow to red with 4 seconds left, no such thing there now).

  13. David

    I didn’t think this show could top last week’s drum Disconnecting Wall, but now I with Simon Clark had had to deal with it.

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  14. Alex

    Would being able to switch the question over to the opponent once like in Grand Slam remove the chance of a shut-out?

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    1. Brig Bother Post author

      It would stop a shutout, but any advantage you give to one team you also give to the other so it doesn’t make the chance of an exciting finish any higher really.

      I ponder if just letting them talk it out and accepting when they hit the right answer rather than having them buzz to give a definitive answer, along with more frequent clues, *might* make it more interesting but it’s unlikely to change the outcome of a match and also requires really good, consistent judging. You want the winning team going into it to win most of the time, that’s only just, but if it ends up being a foregone conclusion too much then there’s little point watching. As it is we’ve just had two episodes where the supposed quickfire round has got through three questions each.

      The solutions I’ve seen suggested in the comments are 1) Let the leading team go first, but this only really looks good if they go into it with a decent lead, if they start only five seconds ahead then it probably turns into a disadvantage. My solution to the “who starts” question is some sort of toss-up question, you have buzzers, at least you’d earn the advantage in a relatively exciting way. 2) Swap after every question but increase the wrong answer penalty. Possibly, but getting the balance right so that it doesn’t become a better strategy to just pass questions is difficult and as a viewer it’s frustrating watching people consistently not getting questions correct. Ultimately I don’t know what the correct solution is right now.

      It’s important to remember that chess clocks aren’t designed for wars of attrition usually, they’re there to ensure you make a certain amount of moves in a certain timeframe.

      Obviously David and Tom are friends of mine and I want them to be happy and successful, but I’m not a nerd, I can’t sugarcoat something just because some nerds are in it.

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      1. Cheesebiscuits

        Here’s an idea, I’m sure it will have an obvious flaw in it somewhere though. Have questions open to both teams and set the clocks up as usual. After the question has been read have both clocks start counting down from their startpoints. Either team can buzz in with the answer. If they get it right they earn 10 seconds. Wrong and their opponents receive 10 seconds. If after 30 seconds neither team have it, give the answer and move on to a new question. The team whose clock hits 0 first loses. In the event that the clocks hit 0 simultaneously, give victory to the team that went into the round with more points.

        It keeps the clock idea but by giving people time instead it should mean we see a few more questions and actually see both teams answer them.

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          I think you’ve just invented the non-quickfire round where every question is effectively worth two points, which I don’t think is very exciting unless the scores were tight going into it.

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      2. Andrew, the Yank

        I posted this as a comment on the most recent episode, but I think that rather than making 90 seconds the baseline and giving the leading team more time for the points differential, giving BOTH teams bonus time for the points they’ve accumulated might be a tweak that still gives the leading team a significant advantage whilst also giving the losing team more of a chance. More time will give them more chance to get a question right to prevent the shutout, and make them feel less urgent. It also simply rewards their play throughout the game as well.

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      3. Andrew, the Yank

        Though that being said, I personally have no issue with the final as it currently stands. But if people want to change it, I think that’s a fair tweak that gives a better chance to the losing team without sacrificing the leading team’s advantage.

        Reply

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