On Sunday, the new short run of Miljoenenjacht began on RTL in the Netherlands (for the uninitiated, this was the original Deal or No Deal). There have been some changes. Some of these are good (I like the big band version of the theme tune), some of these are not so good. However, I will outline the modified format:
- 1000 people in the audience split into ten blocks of 100, each one representing a region of the Netherlands as suggested by their postcode (the show is still sponsored by the Postcode Lottery – I wonder if that ever did take off properly in Scotland?) Edit: May actually be less than 1,000, but each block is 10 wide and way more than five deep. Perhaps half the audience are actual audience?
- The quiz is reduced to five multiple choice questions. Instead of whittling the audience away by pitting sections against each other, the quiz now seeks to find the best member of each section – most answers in the quickest time, presumably. This is a) fairer as you only have to rely on yourself, b) apparently quicker except c) it seems to take an age and d) is a lot less fun than the old version.
- The best player from each section moves on to round two. The ten are split into five pairs of two who will face off head-to-head in a reversioning of an old round. The audience are polled on if they agree on a statement, the contestants must try and predict how many people agree with the statement. The closer answer wins and the player goes through to round three, the loser is out.
- Between rounds there are still the viewer phone-in competitions, and it looks like one entire randomly-chosen block wins a small prize in each case, and one person from that block also wins €10k. This is all fine and good, except Linda has lost her Random Remote of Doom 🙁
- There appears to be an “Oprah moment” where everyone in the studio receives a small prize – some sort of video camera in the first episode, but one of them is a bit different as we will see later.
- Round three works a bit like the old Krishnan Guru-Murphy show Number One – the five remaining contestants are lined up behind desks numbered 1-5, in order of how close their answers were to the actual answer in round two (I think). There will now be three rounds of buzzer quiz, each one 100 seconds in length – get a question right and you swap desks with the person placed higher than you, get it wrong and swap down. Get it wrong whilst on the last desk and you’re blocked from the next question. At the end of the time the person on the last desk is eliminated, earning €1k, €2k or €3k for lasting one, two or three rounds. This leaves two people.
- What is striking is that a large part of the old show was about temptation and risk – at various points during the show, people would be offered guaranteed cash and prizes to forgo the cases and leave the game (particularly if they thought they were about to be eliminated in a quiz element, for example), and people in the audience would be selected to take their place if they were willing to turn down a nice prize. This aspect appears to have left the show almost completely. A big shame.
- The semi-final hasn’t changed from last time – a money clock counts up to a secret total, the first person to buzz in takes the money but hands the golden cases to the opponent. If the money reaches the secret limit (usually a significant five-figure amount), a quiz question determines who goes through to the cases, and who goes home empty-handed.
- Winner selected, it’s time to choose someone else with an interest in what happens. One of the prizes given out earlier has a special sticker on it, whoever owna that prize is given a large bell. Now, this is where we’re guessing a bit – anytime within the first 11 cases, once the winning contestant has selected the case but before it is opened, the person can ring the bell. We think they win whatever is in the case provided it is €50k or lower. Edit: I might have this wrong also – if the case is higher than €50k, they win €50k.
- And that means its time for another change – they’ve resisted for years, but yes the Dutch have gone down the boring and bland US presentation route with 26 models opening the cases instead on some stairs in front of a large window pretending to be a skyscraper.
- The new graphics are a bit dull if I’m being honest (not so much new as stylised versions of the US ones), apart from two things: 1) a laser strikes the three biggest amounts off the list, and 2) everything flashes red when it’s time to make a decision. These are quite neat touches.
- The music is quite good though – very Strachans.
- Offers appear in a marquee above the models which ususally show a lava-lamp version of the Postcode Loterij ribbon. But they just flash up, which is a rather boring use of the marquee if I’m being honest. Animation!
- And that’s it really.
Not completely awful by any means, but certainly not something I’m overly excited about. I already don’t think Deal or No Deal works brilliantly as a game if the numbers are too big as it runs the risk of trivialising fairly large amounts of money, or making the risks too great to be worth considering usually, and as such it’s often surprisingly not that tense. But there we are, it’s on Sundays and you can watch it on RTL’s catch-up service. Just remember: Vaandag = Today, Gisteren = Yesterday (if you intend to watch on Monday), Zondag = Sunday.
Meanwhile GSN’s 1 vs 100 began on Monday night with its large but frankly not large enough video-wall and amusingly retained borked US prize system that’s been a massive hit (aside: not a massive hit) the world over, only now with much smaller prizemoney which is only going to exacerbate the problems, I think. The questions are entertaining, falling somewhere between the two original seasons of the show – wittlily written, but not as yet in two-stages as you’d get in the celebrated season one. You can watch the first episode on Youtube here. I quite like Carrie Ann Inaba.
AND FINALLY! The Cube iPod app has been updated. Perimeter has been added as a game (although the timing is a bit suspect, you press the button, it seems to stop two spaces later) and you can now walk away with your virtual monies. Amazing.