OK, just got back from Elstree. The show started about an hour late because of a previous show apparently, although it was all done and dusted in about two hours tonight. There were only about twenty of us in the audience.
- The set is dominated by four large bowling tracks front of set, a large stage with four podium buzzers back left, the big The Edge sign behind the contestant’s stage, host’s question screen back right of set. At the end of the bowling lanes is a large screen.
- Mark Benton’s our rather jolly host and he was good fun, although technically a bit all over the place, lots of restarting questions in mid flow. Bit surprised because of his acting pedigree, although it was also the third of evidently a long filming day, so make of that what you will.
- Four contestants answer questions to gain advantage in taking on… the edge. In each round the player who scores the lowest is eliminated.
- In round one contestants must get four questions correct on the buzzer to raise a ball from the bottom of their podium to the top. Get a question wrong and they are frozen out of the next question, they are not reoffered. Once someone has got four questions correct they can choose which of the four lanes they want to bowl from. The other contestant’s podiums are then reset and they race back to four again, the next person choosing from one of the remaining lanes, and repeat once more until the loser gets no choice. All the questions in round one are single bits of general knowledge (Name the X that did Y and Z). “The best brains get the best lanes!” It’s time to go to the lanes.
- Why is choice of lane important? Because they are each different lengths. The shortest one about 10ft, the longest one about 25ft (I’m having to guess a little bit on these distances, sorry). Each lane is split into cash zones starting at £1 (from where they stand up to the money proper) then £10, then £50, then all the increments of £50 up to £950 and finally there’s the striped Edge worth £1,000 in round one. It *looks* like The Edge is about two-three inches and the other cash zones about four inches. The lanes have guard rails so the balls can’t go off the side, but they can of course go off… the edge.
- In round one each person gets one ball to bowl. Simply put, whoever scores the lowest is eliminated with nothing. I don’t know what happens if there’s a tie. The players have apparently been allowed to practice before the show so have an idea of the power required. The balls look about 4 inches in diameter. The order is shortest lane to longest, so there is some strategy in not going for the shortest lane as it gives you a target to aim for going later.
- There’s quite a neat Peggle-esque rising pitch noise as the ball moves through the cash zones.
- The three surviving players have the money earned put into their individual banks which the winner will play for in the final. It felt like a lot of quiz effort for not much payoff here, to be honest.
- In round two four more questions need to be answered but this time all the questions require two answers (name the TWO Xs that did Y and Z).
- For round two, the shortest lane is closed off. Whatsmore whilst the first player to qualify gets a penalty free lane, the second player gets a Danger Zone and the third one TWO Danger Zones. Woooh. To determine the danger zones, the players push a button on the stand where the balls stand whilst the lights flash along the floor. The values of what’s stopped on are immediately changed to £1. Don’t like this idea, it’s unnecessary added faff to a game that’s already quite difficult (if tonight’s recording is anything to go by) – this is a game of accumulation and anything that makes that harder should be avoided as it frustrates the viewer and sometimes (like tonight) punishes heroism needlessly – it’s not like Tipping Point where a miss means it might be even more exciting next time. It’s not like anybody’s aiming to hit or miss spots deliberately.
- Each player gets TWO balls and the cumulative total counts. The lowest score is eliminated. Note that previously banked cash doesn’t count here. The Edge is worth £2,000 in this round.
- Round three. The two shortest lanes blocked off and a race to four answers again. This time all the questions require three answers.
- The winner here gets to pick lane and also gets to set one Danger Zone for their opponent which they can move between bowls (again don’t really like this it’s Looks Strategic But Isn’t Really). The winner also has to go first each time. The Edge is worth £3,000 (you can’t place the DZ on The Edge). Both players get three balls, highest total for the round wins, loser goes home.
- The Final. The winner faces 75 seconds of questions, each one requiring four answers. Unlike the previous rounds which seemed to have three very definite answers for each question, here it looks like some of them are a bit more open ended, in point of fact it looks like they’re dealing with the missed questions in post-production.
- Each correctly answered question increases the size of the edge – it looks like two cash zones for each fully answered question. However they do have to play from the longest lane.
- The contestant has a choice – if they think they can get the ball to land on the endge in one shot they can go all or nothing. If they want insurance they can opt for two balls for half of the pot, or three balls for one third of the pot (all money rounded up to the next pound). The game is winnable, but by the sounds of it nobody’s actually won yet.
- For me it never really felt like the show gelled. There’s plenty of questions (probably in point of fact because of the amount of passes) and the bowling element is fairly good fun, but really it requires to be played to a certain decent standard to be properly entertaining, there were a couple of good balls and near misses (including a shot about an inch from the edge which was only worth a pound because of the random Danger Zoning) but many were only worth a pound or went off the end. Handy if you’re playing, not so much fun to watch.
As ever there’s a caveat that we don’t know how it’s going to edit and as a sample this is a random episode and others may or may not be better, but our gut wasn’t going gaga over the possibilities the show creates. This being said, we didn’t think The Link was very good either but it was still doing a million, so.