Show Discussion: Take the Money and Run

By | August 2, 2011

If you’re in the UK you’ll have to resort to naughty means to watch it, destroying the entire television industry in the process but TONIGHT! marks the first episode of Take the Money and Run on ABC (official site here), a show where if two people can keep secret the location of a briefcase of money they’ve hidden for 48 hours whilst being interrogated by Actual Real police types playing for themselves then they get to keep it. It’s of interest for us because it’s in our favourite genre, the action-adventure, and also because it’s co-produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Wild Rover, our favourite Irish production company (we don’t know many more) who came up with Secret Fortune. And it’s nice to see this sort of thing can still get comissioned.

Be aware that comments for this post may well end up containing spoilers (especially as it’s unlikely UK people will be watching it until Wednesday sometime).

If you have any misc comments, stick them in the post beneath this one. Ta.

37 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Take the Money and Run

  1. Des Elmes

    “Wild Rover, our favourite Irish production company (we don’t know many more).”

    How about Patrick Kielty’s company Green Inc?

    In the Republic, meanwhile, there’s Adare Productions (makers of the Gaelic Games reality show Underdogs) and Coco TV (the crew behind Cabin Fever). 😉

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  2. NJ

    Watching this now, starts with the pair hiding the case getting a phone call from a David Caruso-like guy with the case. They meet the guy, he handcuffs one of the players to the case and gives the other one the key. Then they have an hour to hide the case before the hunters take them into custody. They have a car to use to get around the city a bit quicker.

    The hunters have access to the exact route the car took through the city, as well as any receipts the hiders got from buying public transit tickets or other things and their phone call records. So the hiders have to try and lay false paper trails and make decoy calls etc to try and throw off the hunters with false leads.

    Rather brilliantly in this episode the hiders made plenty of decoy calls to people living along the route they drove, giving them stories to tell to the hunters if they came calling. Then they just buried the case in a park so the hunters would’ve spent the entire 48 hours chasing the decoy leads if one of the guys hadn’t cracked under the combined pressures of interrogation and solitary confinement and straight up told them where it is.

    I don’t think this going to be easily judged from 1 episode, if the next episode also ends with one of the guys just telling the hunters where it is then this might be in trouble. 1st episode was extremely entertaining though.

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  3. Alex

    Just watched this and I thought it was briliant. Even though one of the guys broke, which I was a little disappointed about as it happened, I still actually found the remainder of the conclusion very entertaining and I did find myself pleased for the cops when they found the case. I look forward to next week’s!

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  4. Alex

    I don’t know about watching it online but it’s on torrent sites to download (if mention of such things is allowed).

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  5. Paul B

    TTMAR had 5.14m viewers, with a 1.9/5 Adults 18-49.
    For the record It’s Worth What had 4.78, with a 1.2/4 Adults 18-49.

    We’ll see if it holds up. The “mainstream” reaction (i.e. the reaction from people those who, unlike us, don’t necessarily like “this sort of thing”) I’ve seen is fairly meh, to be honest.

    Looking forward to seeing it. I’m waiting until I get it sent over through the proper channels, because destroying the entire television industry isn’ in my best interests (yet).

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    1. Paul B

      Sorry that middle paragraph is hideously mangled, but you get my drift.

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      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I think you’re middle paragraph is fine, to be honest. Anyway, not watched it yet as I’m working late but couldn’t resist spoiling it for myself, so I should possibly just add that it had a new episode of Wipeout as a lead in (and does so again next week), but IWW? numbers rose during the second half (from 1.1 to 1.3 hence: 1.2). How much of this was churn from TTMAR hasn’t been reported.

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    2. Joe

      Bad start for TTMAR, it debuted about 25% lower than It’s Worth What which had 6.71m for its premiere.

      Reply
  6. Brig Bother Post author

    Right seen this now and actually really enjoyed it. It felt well-paced – neither too fast or slow, and the BGM was restrained.

    I think my main criticism of it is that the police officers didn’t really earn the money, all they did was drive round a bit. It’s all about Paul and Mary the interrogators.

    The rules here all seem pretty reasonable, although I’m sure in a real life situation you’d just say nothing for as long as possible I’m sure: http://blog.jbfilms.com/?p=795

    I wish the same people did the US version of The Phone, really. I can’t guarantee it’s a hit, but I found it quite difficult to find much fault with it really. The way I gather this was advertised feels quite misleading really, this is all about whether some people can withstand the pressures of interrogation above anything else.

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    1. Dave M

      I think my main criticism of the show dovetails with what you are saying. We most readily sympathize with the hiders (since I doubt many of us are trained police investigators). It is certainly edited in such a way that we our main rooting interest is the with hiders, either in a “I hope they get away with it” way or a “I hope they get nailed” way. So at the end of the episode when the investigators are talking about what they’re going to do with their winnings, it’s rather jarring – you’ve forgotten that the other side had real people playing for real money as well.

      This kind of show always works best with a clear Goodies v. Baddies delineation, and to have members of the Baddies be civilians in contention for the cash doesn’t allow you to fully enjoy it when they win. And like you said, the interrogators did most of the work. If they bring it back for another series, keep the interrogators and get a dedicated ground team as well.

      (I presume they did it this way because they will be changing locales each week, and a ground team that doesn’t know the area isn’t very useful, but the point still holds.)

      Overall, it was a good show, but I found it hard to suspend my disbelief at times. Things like the police being able to question the non-playing accomplices and the interrogation not devolving into a staring match only happened because the production team applied a liberal amount of grease to the machinery. I get the feeling that this was an easy show to pitch but a difficult one to produce, and it’s commendable that they did as well as they did to paper over the holes in logic.

      That being said, I don’t see this lasting more than a season. It’s always been hard to sustain the more cerebral reality shows (R.I.P. The Mole), and I get the feeling that, as reality shows go, this is on the more expensive side to produce. Still, ABC should be commended for giving it a shot.

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      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I do wonder if the entire point of havinga police investigator team is to immediately stop any ideas that the show might be fixed in some way – they’re giving the money away anyway so there would be no point, would there? Maybe they should have got the interrogators to train up the police people and let them also do the interrogating.

        And as for the show being expensive, I’d question that. I don’t think there’s much here that warrants it. It’s a car, a couple of cameras, some cells, a couple of professionals and a computer graphic map and that’s pretty much it. You could probably make your own version with some camcorders.

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  7. Joe

    I have major issues with this show. First of all, why did the two brothers even answer the interrogators’ questions? Why didn’t they just say “no comment” for the two days, that’s what they could’ve done easily and won the money. In real life that’s what criminals do, say “no comment”. Why didn’t they just say that?? It’s so simple.

    Secondly, when they went the policemen went to the “accomplicies” houses, they just took their word to be the truth. Like when one of the guys said that the cash isn’t hidden in their house, the policemen just said “okay” and ruled that person’s house out as the place the cash was. How could they just rule it out just like that? The accomplice could have been lying and genuinely had the briefcase. I know they didn’t in actual fact, but suppose they did, that would’ve been a major error.

    Thirdly, the whole thing about the “weaker” brother “breaking down” and giving away the park details looked fake. I mean, come on, he was less than 24 hours away from winning £100k, he could have easily just not said anything. How can you “break down” anyway, it’s not real life, he’s perfectly aware it’s a TV show. I have my suspicions that the two brothers were from a casting agency who are often employed from game shows to “act” a little bit to aid the TV show. I have a suspicion the producers already hatched a plan to how they wanted the “story” for this episode to go, and told the two “casting agency” brothers what they wanted them to say and do. They probably got paid a little bit on the side to follow along with the story. This is VERY COMMON practice in American gameshows.

    All in all, a very poor effort. A lot of flaws, not enjoyable, unrealistic, a weak premise. It’s a flop.

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    1. Joe

      I’ve just read the rules and it says the contestants HAVE to answer the question. So okay, maybe they couldn’t say “no comment” but they could’ve just answered the question vaguely without going into details like they did. I mean, how on earth did that brother “crack” under a fake investigation. It’s so absurd, I can’t believe people watching this show actually believe that to be real. They were TOLD from the producers to follow a story and act it out in exchange for some money, a common practice with these gameshows. I notice there was a little disclaimer saying that “some scenes were created for entertainment purposes” 😉

      It is so unrealistic, ridiculous. I bet certain people in the BBC Light Entertainment department are looking at this show closely to commission, not surprising due to how poor their recent efforts have been and this would be another poor effort.

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      1. Brig Bother Post author

        It is so unrealistic, ridiculous. I bet certain people in the BBC Light Entertainment department are looking at this show closely to commission, not surprising due to how poor their recent efforts have been and this would be another poor effort.

        Ha ha, what have they turned down from Endemol this time?

        For reference in the timeslot last week was the season finale of 101 Ways… which scored a 1.4/4.

        Do you remember when Endemol used to make popular programmes people liked? Long time ago now.

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        1. Joe

          Don’t you think my my criticism regarding TTMAR is valid though? I mean, jeez, come on do people really think some 30 year old guy genuinely broke down on a TV show even though he was 15 hours away from £100k.

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          1. Brig Bother Post author

            I think your criticisms are reasonable and you are not the first person to say them. When you drop the tedious politics I am happy to play ball.

            However yes I can believe it, because this is not the first time this sort of thing has been done on television – see also The Mole UK series one, The Interrogators on BBC3 and probably more besides. I found his personal breakdown quite compelling.

          2. Joe

            It wasn’t a real breakdown though. It was acted for cameras. He was told by the production company to do that, in order to suit a “story” that the producers wanted this episode to take. It wasn’t real, it was staged.

          3. Dave M

            I presume that this show falls under the same sections of the FCC code as other U.S. game shows, so I would highly doubt that the production team would risk a felony conviction by setting up and faking his breakdown.

          4. Joe

            Trust me on this, they did. These gameshows in America cast a lot of people through agencies and these people are often told or ‘advised’ (if that’s a better word) to do certain things, in exchange of some cash. It happens all the time, I’ve seen it. This sort of practice is creeping into the Uk too. The shows are safe from being sued to due disclaimers on the shows which say that certain “scenes are created for entertainment purposes”. They have covered their backs.

          5. Brig Bother Post author

            It may be true. It may not be. The problem is Joe you’re not exactly number one on the honesty list, are you?

          6. Paul B

            The logical conclusion of what you insinuate is that the entire show is essentially scripted, and the contestants were never actually playing for real. After all, why would somebody give up $100,000 for (what I presume would be) a smaller fee paid by the production company. While I confess I don’t know how things work in the US I find it difficult to believe the “some scenes created for entertainment purposes” clause could extend that far.

            Also, I find it completely inconceivable that any UK game show producers would be party to such tactics. If anything since the Great Phone-In Scandal of 2006 producers and networks go to extraordinary lengths to ensure fairness and clarity.

            And Gizensha – Wanted is about number three on the list of old shows that development teams endlessly bang on about reinventing. Maybe something will come of it some day.

          7. Joe

            Paul, I know you’d like to think this sort of thing doesn’t go on in the UK, but it does although on a much smaller scale. I wish I could name names but I won’t/can’t. All I’ll say is that certain ‘tricks’ are used to make a show more entertaining than it actually might’ve been.

          8. Brig Bother Post author

            Well I’ve had the producer on the Bother’s Bar Batphone, here’s what he said:

            “been reading the comments on your site – for the record (and joe!)the show is 100%real.its not fake.its a competition.no 1 is asked to act

            it’s an edit of 30odd hours of interrogation.the guy honestly broke under the questioning.i wouldn’t fancy going through it myself tbh!

            its a totally immersive experience. 1st ep wasn’t totally clear on the rules.the nxt eps should hopefully fix that.”

            Now I doubt he was ever going to say “yeah, we fix it”, but frankly I’m happy to believe him.

  8. Greg

    I think it was enjoyable though i have a few comments.

    First of all whe they went to that guys apartment he just said they did not hide it here and they walked off and eliminated that from the suggestions.

    Second of all i would like to have been given more of the rules onscreen or via a voiceover as i was watching the episode thinking why are they saying anything to these questions, only after reading above comments i have found out they had to.

    I imagine it stated in the rules they must hide the case together, if not they should have had one of them drive off and the other hide the case on foot, then met up later just before the time ran out, to fool the GPS readings.

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    1. Alex

      Yeah, it’s against the rules to split when handling the cash.

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      1. Gizensha

        Mmm – Based on comments on here (not gotten round to checking the show out, probably won’t) it seems to me that it suffers a similar problem to the major one Wanted had, just in a more noticeable way – Too many artificial, arbitrary, feeling rules so that the show works. Though at least they seem less complex.

        Now, I understand that artificial and arbitrary rules are needed for any game in any medium to ‘work,’ weather the game is designed to be enjoyed by spectators (i.e. Game shows) or just by participants (i.e. every other game going that didn’t organically evolve) it’s just a shame when a show is trying to present itself as simulation but which the rules wind up being a barrier to whatever the relevant suspension of disbelief equivalent is for ignoring the artificial aspects of the scenario and enjoying the show for what it is.

        (P.S. Someone bring back Wanted)

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  9. art begotti

    I know I’m late to the party, but I enjoyed TTMAR. My only major issue with it was one that Endemol Joe McCarthy said, in that the police just believed the two friends when they said they didn’t take the briefcase from the players. It’s when you take that into consideration that it’s really clear that practically all the significant work (minus the search at the very end) was done by the interrogators, by breaking down the player. I don’t know what The Interrogators was like, but I can imagine that TTMAR would/could work just as well if they cut out the police and they did the search on their own.

    My biggest fear, though, is how long it could last, regardless of how popular it is. I can’t help but feel that after maybe five or six episodes, the premise will start to get a bit old. There are only so many ways the interrogations can go, win or lose, and I feel it might get stale a bit quickly unless some “wacky new strategies” are played by the contestants. (I have no idea what “wacky new strategies” entails, but for effect it’s best if you imagine that line read by someone singing the Fun House theme.) I think with a bit of word-of-mouth ratings will probably go up for this season, but I fear it couldn’t do well beyond that.

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    1. Chris M. Dickson

      (I have no idea what “wacky new strategies” entails, but for effect it’s best if you imagine that line read by someone singing the Fun House theme.)

      It’s outraaaaaageous!

      Reply

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