Show Discussion: Blockbusters

By | March 20, 2019

Thursdays, 8:00pm:
Comedy Central UK

Episode one: “Oh, Blockbusters!”

Episode two: “Oh, Blockbusters.”

Baffling remake of the 80s and 90s daytime classic now in its fifth reincarnation, truly making it the Annie Wilkes of gameshows. At least they’ve upped the money to £20 a question rather than cheekily keeping it a fiver like the last iteration.

This new version features Dara O’Briain (because of course it does), attention seeking sixth-formers and “millennial humour”. Doubtless an ironic handjive as well.

If this brings in a young audience then good for them. Do you know I’m 37 these days? I can’t keep doing this.

45 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Blockbusters

  1. Jayenkai

    All the technology in front of me, and yet the only way to legally watch seems to be to pay an alarming amount to cable/satellite..
    No thanks.

    1. Jeff

      I think Comedy Central is a Now TV Entertainment Pack Channel. If I’m correct about that, then that saves lengthy satellite subscriptions etc

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Yes it is. I’m trying to hold out for when Game of Thrones starts, although I’m thinking about jacking in my Netflix sub soon.

        1. Jayenkai

          …. but I’m not doing it for Blockbusters!!
          If there were ANYTHING else I could name, on Sky, which I would actually watch, then maybe. But right now, nah. I’m alright with Netflix and Amazon Prime for the meantime.

  2. Makasi

    What’s with the negativity, there’s no hand jive. Yeah there’s a couple obnoxious people but not everyone. Give it a go

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Because Blockbusters is boring and everyone keeps bringing it back, under the impression “it’ll be DIFFERENT this time” and it never takes off.

      1. Crimsonshade

        I personally disagree that Blockbusters is boring and have a lot of love for the format; but I do agree with your point on trying to be different and falling flat. Challenge’s version was in my opinion the only revival done well, precisely because they went to so much effort to take the original spirit and essence of the show and remain faithful to it while still giving it the necessary lick of modern paint. I would happily have watched further series (and indeed I have seen evidence to suggest Challenge had originally intended to do a Comedy Central and broadcast the 41 episodes as two series, but changed plan late in the day).

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          I have no doubt that production-wise Blockbusters will be fine.

          The idea that the kids are going to put down Apex Legends to watch it is quite sweet.

          Challenge Blockbusters ended because nobody watched it, like all the other versions. I have no idea of the criteria Comedy Central have to judge it a success or not and I wish them best of luck.

      2. John R

        The best version was my science teachers remake of it in 1999 using the OHP and a sheet of acetate

        1. Matt Clemson

          We had a science teacher who used an implementation of it for an end-of-term quiz. Running on a battered old 48k Speccy in 1992ish.

          It didn’t have hexagons (visually, in gameplay terms they still were)- I assume because they were a little more complex to implement than the staggered squares he used instead.

  3. Brett Linforth

    Comedy Central have been releasing teaser clips on their YouTube channel and I’m a lot less pessimistic than I was. I think I’d be kidding myself if I said it’ll be the finest reboot of the format – Challenge’s 2012 attempt wins that hands down in my opinion – but I’m willing to give it a go as it’s my all-time favourite quiz show.

  4. Jeff

    Having attended one of the episodes, it was very entertaining but of course reducing it to 25 minutes-ish may lose some of Dara’s gags.

    The adverts make it seem as though the contestants are somewhat dim, but the players we saw were pretty sharp. Well worth a watch.

  5. Tom H

    For pre-emptive comparison purposes:

    – Last night’s 8pm slot on Comedy Central (a new episode of Your Face or Mine) brought in 102k viewers.
    – Last week’s Thursday 8pm slot (a repeat of Friends) had 33k viewers.

      1. Greg

        Oh my god what a trainwreck of a show.

        So much to dislike

        Annoying contestants!
        Audience laughing every 30 seconds often at nothing.
        What the hell is that weird hexagon stand off round?
        No carry over champions
        Why does the Gold Run need a question theme?

        It’s like it’s been put together by somebody that has never seen Blockbusters and does not understand comedy.

  6. Cliff

    Well, it’s generally enjoyable, pretty funny thanks to Dara, though the constant generation clash humour just makes me think they should’ve booked a younger host.

    As is always the way these days, gameplay is slower so that we get to know more about the contestants – or in this case, the jokes – and losing the rollover format of previous incarnations means there’s only time for two rounds and a Gold Run each episode. The tie break round, if needed, is called the Hexican Standoff, which is cute, but it’s very unfair because the team of two has a clear advantage over the single player.

    Incidentally, I don’t think Bob Holness ever said “hexagon” in the classic original, but Dara and I think Simon Mayo said it constantly. It doesn’t sound right.

    The questions are very much in keeping with the original format, in both difficulty level and mixture of styles, so that’s technically good, but for me that’s always been the thing that’s made Blockbusters a bit too gentle to be a must-watch.

  7. Rob Francis

    So, the changes:

    – £20 per correct answer, £50 for each answer on the Gold Run if a player fails to make it across
    – Only 2 rounds are played. If there’s a tie, there’s a one question shootout (called the ‘Hexagon Standoff’) – a wrong answer here means the other team win by default.
    – In the Gold Run, there’s a choice of 2 categories (tonight’s were ‘Things found in the Natural History Museum’, and ‘Things found in my pocket’
    – Consolation prizes are a hoodie and a reusable water cup.
    – No carry over champions.

    1. Greg

      I have a huge issue with the Hexagon Standoff round. It’s been done to keep the show to time so no contestants carry over I get that. But to me it feels wrong, out of place and a cheap way to win.

      The game elements in this version feel very on the back burner in favour of stupidity.

      I am not sure if the contestants have been told to buzz in with stupid answers or that double team were just doing it for laughs.

  8. David B

    To me, it feels like neither one thing or another. There’s been a run of shows that have reinvented the format in a loose way (Mr & Mrs, EOOTCD Countdown, Through the Keyhole etc.) and done so successfully. And, even though they took 5 of their 23 minutes to get to Question 1, it still doesn’t feel quite loose enough.

    The tiebreak is a mis-step – surely a 2×3 grid could’ve worked?

  9. TheLupineOne

    For those of us that don’t have cable or satellite: did they butcher the title theme? And if the winners lost the Gold Run, did they keep the losing fanfare for that?

    1. Rob Francis

      No losing horn, and the theme tune was butchered compared to the preview videos. About the same length as the Mayo version.

      1. Crimsonshade

        Comedy Central’s theme is a very faithful recreation of the original theme tune, even managing to accurately recreate the ending (instead of erroneously going straight into the final four-note sting like in many other revivals); though the full theme is only used during the end credits – the title sequence uses a very condensed version; and the contestant introductions shortened still.

        The endgame has a quiet “think music” throughout the entire 60 seconds which is influenced by the theme – you can actually hear some of the same stings – but there is no losing horn, which is a shame.

  10. Brett Linforth

    Watched this last night with my mother (also a fan of the Bob Holness original)

    I liked parts of it – the increased prize money was a nice touch, Dara is clearly having a ball, the set is actually pretty nice in its intimacy, announcing the Gold Run prize BEFORE they undertake it is a neat change of pace and I love the fact they still have the end game animation with the hexagons going different colours! I don’t even mind the episodes being self contained instead of straddling!

    However, there were parts I wasn’t so keen on – the gag prizes on certain questions seem out of place, the board is no longer fully tessellated (nerdy I know but that’s the guy I am!), whoever came up with the title ‘Hexican Stand-Off’ wants sacking and the choice of categories in the Gold Run seems unnecessary!

    It could’ve been A LOT worse though – they could have put it on after the watershed and everyone could’ve been effing and jeffing all over the shop. Thankfully, the humour is clean and friendly – we’re laughing with them, not at them!

    Overall, it’s about a 7/10 from me! (Sorry to waffle!)

    1. Crimsonshade

      Wow, it’s like we share the same mind! I agree with every single one of your points; and can only further add that overall, my mother and I came away enjoying the show and eager to see more 🙂

  11. Brekkie

    Was an enjoyable half hour. Understand why they’ve introduced the tie break to keep them as self contained episodes.

    Nice they’ve gone back to younger contestants – still think it’s on the wrong channel though.

  12. Chris M. Dickson

    I liked this more than I was expecting, though the episode I’ve seen may well not have been the first one, and the first one might well have been chosen for divisive contestants. Maybe it’s not exciting enough to tune in for especially, but it could repeat well on Comedy Central, Dave or Challenge reliably enough, and if I’d tuned in for something else and saw this was coming up next then this was easily good enough to make it worth sticking around. Yes, it suffered from the “less gameplay so we can get to know more of the contestants’ personalities”, but the gameplay was adeuqately slick. I didn’t mind the occasional prizes (a feature of the original, of sorts, though the prizes went to the schools), the question-writing struck an appropriate tone, and I quite liked the “choose your topic” twist on the endgame with the point that contestants could see some of the questions coming based on the topic and the answers’ initials. Dara was grand. Production values were better than they needed to be. Overall: respectful and far from disastrous. (What an endorsement!)

    It’s the most first-world and modern of problems to complain that full episodes of a show aren’t available through official routes on demand, isn’t it?

      1. Greg

        Is it just my awful memory or have they also reversed the buzzer sounds too? Always remember the higher tone sound being for the single player.

    1. Tom H

      Who are also, shock horror, on the Thames/Freemantle payroll.

  13. Tom H

    103k for the celeb special – down on last week; incidentally I noticed some Tube screen ads for the show this week, so CC continuing to push it.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I’ve no idea what sort of figure they’d be happy with. You certainly can’t say they’re not trying.

      1. Danny Kerner

        Should have been C5 from the start really. The question is what timeslot and day would work best in favour of the ratings.

  14. Peter S

    An episode has appeared on youtube in case anyone hasn’t spotted it yet…

    I quite liked it – an amusing 22 minutes; it’s sort of Blockbusters but not quite as we knew it. Still, it’s 30 years since I used to watch it, so it’s inevitable that life moves on. I also didn’t like the tie-breaker round, and it didn’t feel like they got through enough questions in the whole show – but on the whole, if it was on I’d probably watch it. Unfortunately it’s not on terrestrial TV so I won’t…

  15. Tom H

    As we’ve been tracking the ratings, 66k this week – probably in ‘don’t bother recommissioning’ territory.

    1. Brett Linforth

      I reckon some other channel will recommission it just in time for the show 40th Anniversary on British TV in 2023!

  16. Brett Linforth

    I’ve been thinking more and more about the possibility of another broadcaster reviving the show in 2023 to celebrate 40 years since it debuted on British TV. If this happens, I’ve had a few ideas:

    – Rework the best-known title sequence subtlely to include nods to not only previous titles but previous hosts too (maybe even pictures of American hosts Bill Cullen and Bill Rafferty and Australian host Michael Pope on some of the buildings that had screens on them? Clips of previous title sequences on the screen in the room where the hexagons fly towards the board also?)

    – Revise the money scheme – all starting contestants play for £5 per question which increases by a further fiver for each Gold Run they complete (e.g. a contestant going for their fifth and final Gold Run plays for £25 a question) and increase the Gold Run consolation money using the same margin but doubled (£10 per answer on the first, £20 on the second etc)

    – Bring back the polystrene figureheads for the studio but make it into a Hall Of Fame with each one representing one of the show’s hosts (Aspel, Tarbuck, Kay, Mayo and O’Briain with Bob taking his rightful place above the question podium) and perhaps have the Zeus figurehead replicated on the front of the question podium itself?

    – Use the five hexagons on the front of the contestants desk to chart the progress of the Gold Runs (white and blue bulbs in each)

    If ITV brought it back, they could do what they do with shows like Tenable – record, say, 100 shows but spread them out over the year to form 4 series of 25 episodes each?

    As for hosts, my initial ideas were Richard Osman with Alex Lovell taking the Peter Tomlinson voiceover role?

    Just an idea!


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