Show Discussion: Spotless

By | August 20, 2016

SPOTLESS_TITLES5Saturday, 7:15pm,
ITV

Well here’s an interesting one and no mistake, a “one-off summer special” (i.e. broadcast pilot) involving mess going out probably an hour later than it probably ought to against the final night of the Olympics. If you were to ask me if I thought ITV were expecting big things from this then reading between the lines I’d have to concede no, no they probably aren’t.

But we’ll keep an open mind because Possessed are behind it and they’re usually interesting at least. In Spotless. couples are charged with completing tasks in white rooms whilst wearing white clothes and avoiding paint based traps threatening to cover them and losing them money. The “iconic” Spotless Scanner will determine how they’ve fared after each task.

There is no host. They’re being cagey when I asked if there was a voiceover. Will anyone watch it and will it be any good? Let us know what you think in the comments.

23 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Spotless

  1. Callum J

    I’m intrigued to see how this will play out without a host.

    It’s also the last episode of Catchphrase tonight, but Stephen’s new show Go For It is on next week before The X Factor. The Getaway Car also returns next week.

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  2. Peter Todd

    Sounds good I will be watching. No host and there might be a voice over this could work. Up against the olympics it might push around 2-2.5m.

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  3. Clive of Legend

    Pop music, yoots, and post-game interviews.

    Most discouraging,

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  4. Brekkie

    The white sets make it a really difficult watch – game shows are all about contestants and they just disappear in a mass of white.

    Also feel this is the sort of thing which should be on kids TV, not primetime. Sadly doubt the commissioning opportunities are there for childrens TV any more.

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  5. Cliff

    If ever a show needed a studio audience and a presenter, this is it. It could be It’s a Knockout style messy fun, but it comes across like we’re watching a documentary about paint lobbing. The inserts of contestants discussing what happened during each game just adds to the distancing effect. I can’t believe the producers thought that this was the best way of presenting this format.

    Also, yes, it should probably be a kids’ show.

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  6. Greg

    From what i have seen i think there is a good show hiding in this format, but its just not quite there. My first thought was this should be on ITV2.

    The white on white does make it hard to watch.

    However they should be praised for trying something a bit different and the overall presentation is good with the screen graphics and the scanning room looking very good.

    This in my opinion is not a bad show and with a bit of tinkering they could get a series out of the idea, but i do think it would get stale fast.

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  7. Brig Bother Post author

    I have to go out so will have to write up later, but in short I think the game aspect is OK. As a production it’s completely offputting.

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  8. Wrong Guess!

    Didn’t mind a couple of the games,but my gosh the production values are horrendous. I understand that we need to see the paint on the players, but having them in white on a white background just makes it hard to see them and makes it look so incredibly bland.

    I can’t forgive them for having the players introduce the games and tell us what they’re doing at the same time. It doesn’t help that all of them are so so so so annoying

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  9. Malcolm Owen

    There are so many things wrong with Spotless.

    It’s an overgrown kids show that’s dull as heck, it has the irritation of the contestants introducing the games like they’re doing some sort of “YouTube Challenge” video, the post-match interview during the game itself as we’re watching the action, and so on.

    I dare say that this is the worst gameshow I’ve watched since seeing Naked Jungle. That’s not to say it can’t be fixed.

    The white clothing is needed, but maybe the background could be slightly off-white or slightly tinted to help people see the outline of the contestants more.
    The measurement of the contestants seems to be highly scientific, which is commendable, but the games themselves are definitely not, so some level of standard balancing may be in order.
    The voiceover “works” but could take more of a cue from Come Dine With Me with a running sarky commentary.

    And then there’s the finale. Prime time ITV1, Saturday night, you’d expect big money. Nope, just “up to £10,000” and an extremely unfair obstacle course that fails to live up to the standards of Double Dare.

    The biggest crime is that this was on ITV1. We expect some vague level of quality from ITV1, not this fever dream.

    The horrible thing is, if this was on ITV2 and was sponsored by Persil or Vanish to offer the same £10k jackpot, it wouldn’t be a “bad show,” at least by what we usually expect to see on the digital channel.

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  10. Erling

    Well. This was interesting. Terrible, but interesting. It’s hard to disagree with the comments above – the contestants’ interviews and using them as partial hosts was very offputting and makes the format depend far too heavily on their personalities. The people in this show were grating and unfunny, neither being harsh enough with each other or seeming to really have enough fun to really shine.

    The white-on-white was far too much and while I didn’t mind the screen being so bright it made it hard to follow the contestants. I’d invert the background, make it white-on-black. The bright colourful paint would contrast fine with both. However…

    The paint was (mostly) too thin and too lacking. The paint seemed to be watered down, especially in the second and third rounds, often resulting in the earlier mess from the round seeming faded by the time they reached the scanner. Also the quantity of paint used felt very skimped on considering that mess is the whole focus of the show. Even if contestants had been hit constantly, other than round one I would’ve expected very high cleanliness scores throughout.

    The games themselves were mixed – Round 1’s paint balloon one in particular was quite a fun idea, and worked well. Round 2 could’ve been good, however I’d put the target on some form of turntable so they weren’t just constantly getting hit in the same places. Round 3 mostly suffered from the above lack of paint problem, and I would’ve liked to see both team members utilised throughout in some way.

    The scoring was inconsistent, with one round being an average, the second being only one person, and the third one being the combined total. It made a simple show much more confusing than it needed to be. Personally I’d like them to drop the “new game new suit” system, and start with the least messy game, slowly building up. That way the contestants would become slowly less white as the game continued, and there would be some tactics involved in re-hitting existing marks.

    The obstacle course finale was a shambles: First they had to traverse some balance beams, over a very shallow puddle that they could’ve just walked through (thus only getting their shoes messy, which is unavoidable). Then they had to clamber through some paint-covered rope which was possibly the biggest challenge but looked very non-threatening on TV. Then they had to climb up the “its not very slippery” slope, getting their shoes messy again but not much else, and lastly the luge which seemed only to exist to ensure that mess happened somewhere on route. Unsurprisingly, even the finale resulted in a very high cleanliness score.

    In summary, I’d: change the backdrop to black; use more and thicker paint; get a snarky voiceover that embraced how ridiculous the show is; keep the contestants messy round to round; completely rethink the final challenge; move it to ITV2.

    Alternatively, just replace the show with an adult, primetime version of Pump It Up. I miss that show.

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  11. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    Might as well provide a write-up for our international readers.

    2 teams of 2, a couple from BLOODY Essex (I’m sure there’s a law somewhere that says for ANY game show, there MUST be someone from Essex on it!) and a pair of friends from the North (one’s a Geordie and the other’s Scouse) take part in various messy games with the aim to be as spotless as possible. There IS a voiceover that sounds a lot like the voiceover guy from the Coral Windows adverts.

    Game 1 is Flying Colours. In the middle of the room is a high wall. The aim is for each team member to throw paint-filled balloons for their team-mate to catch. They must each catch 4 small balloons and 1 big balloon in order to complete the game. There is no time limit for the game and any balloons that hit the floor do not count, and there is also a sprayer that shoots streams of green paint at the players at random intervals.

    After the game is completed, both team members stand inside a scanner that looks kind of like the Crystal Dome with lots of triangular panels. This scanner takes a 3D picture of each contestant to determine how much paint they got on them. A percentage is taken for each player, and the average of these 2 scores is the team’s score.

    Game 2 is The Bodyguard. One member of the team is designated the Bodyguard and has a large red ‘B’ on the chest of their white outfit. Only the member of the team that the Bodyguard is guarding, who is pinned to the wall so they can’t go anywhere, will enter the scanner so it is up to the Bodyguard to get in the way of the coloured streams of paint. There are 6 in all (purple, blue, green, yellow, red and pink) and a small burst of paint at the start of each sequence will show the order the streams will shoot, so it’s a memory game as well.

    Game 3 is Face Off. No, not the John Travolta and Nicolas Cage movie, but a game where one member from each team plays a game of Rock Paper Scissors by pressing one of 3 buttons on their side of the desk. Each has a paint gun and only the winner’s gun will activate, allowing them to spray their opponent. The loser must run back to their safe zone in order to avoid the paint. As the game goes on, the paint guns get bigger and bigger. This game is played 6 times. After each team went into the scanner, the team with the highest Spotless score over the 3 games went into the Final.

    The final round is The Gauntlet. The winning team must go through an obstacle course with 4 elements. The first element is a pair of balance beams over a pit of orange paint with paint sprayers that they must avoid. The second element is a maze of paint-covered ropes with added paint dripping on them from above. The third element is a slippery slope of paint-covered steps with more paint sprayers. The final element is a luge, where they must time their slide down a slope with a pair of paint waterfalls. At the end of the course, after going through the scanner one more time, their Spotless score is multiplied by 100 and converted into pounds. For example, if they stayed 63% spotless, they would earn £6,300. The more paint they get covered with, the less money they make.

    If I could boil this show down to one phrase, it would be ‘Live-action Splatoon’ (the WiiU game, not the kids’ game show of the same name). It’s a bit of mindless fun and I quite enjoyed it. Only thing I didn’t like was the use of dubstep music at various times as it’s not a music genre I’m a fan of, along with that stupid ‘Cake By The Ocean’ song that played on the final round. I agree with the statements about the contestants being hard to see as their white outfits made them really hard to see against the white rooms apart from their faces and hands. I also agree that this should really be on ITV2 or even ITV Be as it’s more their sort of thing.

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  12. Brig Bother Post author

    Alright. The Unfinished Swan in gameshow form.

    Let’s start off with the positives – in the main I thought the games were fairly good. The opening one with the balloon catching was a bit dull, but the second one combining memory and reactions was a decent idea, as was Rock Paper Scissors with Paintguns, although we knew this was a decent idea because Tom Scott did a similar sort of thing with Rock Paper Scissors Hammer Helmet about six months ago. The obstacle course end game was basically fine. The games would work fine and dandy without the inclusion of paint which is the key sign that they’re decent challenges.

    I even thought the scoring system was basically fine, the show hiding behind a fairly standard 1:1:2 structure. I’m fine with that.

    But everything else about it was so annoying. Redd Pepper was annoying (this seemingly the messiest show he’s been involved with since The Door). The contestants were annoying. The American style editing was annoying (them describing what’s happening adds zero to our understanding and enjoyment – we can see exactly what’s going on, it does not make us like them more). There’s a reason why shows tend to have a proper host and structure, they give the audience a necessary detatched viewpoint of proceedings, we don’t care about these people in the current form being on their level. The constant use of dance music was annoying. The editing was annoying.

    It wasn’t especially funny. The couples weren’t arguing with each other. The paint stopped being surprising five seconds in. I don’t really get who this was *for*, you compare it to Wild Things which goes after a similar family audience and that mixes a lot of imagination alongside the broad comedy of people falling into mud pits but also really plays up the little nuanced bits of conversation the grown-ups will pick up on and manages to use contestants who come across as much more believable. This has shown us everything we’re going to get in two minutes.

    I don’t understand comments suggesting it should be on ITV2, what does it offer for the ITV2 audience? What about this suggests it won’t be wasting your time when you have a hundred other things vying for your attention?

    So sorry, not for me (and I largely suspect the mainstream audience), although I appreciate trying something different and failing I think the concept was *too* light to sustain sixty minutes. Without the paint possibly, with the paint it’s a novelty, a round of a show but no more. It doesn’t give me a great deal of pleasure but it is what it is.

    Also I’m recently out of The Demo now so it doesn’t matter what I think anyway, etc.

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  13. Chris M. Dickson

    It’s a swing and a miss, but an interesting swing, and it would not be a suprise if it were to sell overseas, which would make it a certain sort of success even if it never became a series in the UK. It’s even tempting to wonder whether the show could work without the contestants talking at all, because they might happen to be talking in a different language because the show was filmed overseas and sold around the world. (The contestants didn’t actually say anything desperately interesting, though I liked some of the banter in the face-of, which was the best round.) If the studio had come up with the next (Total) Wipeout then there is huge money to be made, so it’s worth a try.

    I don’t doubt that the whole thing was very expensive, but (groovy graphics and scanner aside) it didn’t come through on the screen. The endgame was not really nearly as spectacular as it probably needed to be; it all looked small, being a constraint of the limits of the studio. The slippery slope was a particularly weak obstacle. You also know that you have a problem when the funniest bit was the brief excerpt of the freeform paint fight at the very end, and even that felt very tame compared to the go-go-go of a Dick and Dom in da Bungalow finale.

    Possibly the biggest issue is that it’s not really “Spotless”, though, is it? It’s “relatively clean”. If the taboo that the show plays with is the concept of being dirty, then it’s not particularly more outrageous that someone is 19% unclean rather than 7% unclean. It’s not that exciting that someone wins £9,300 rather than £8,600.

    The whole show felt low in drama; unusually, it needs to be rather more all-or-nothing. A decision, or a body movement, determining whether someone will win a cash prize or whether they will be covered with a wheelie bin’s worth of nasty-looking gunge has a certain sort of tension, humour, bravery and scope to it; when the alternative penalty is barely a splash of very moderate, accessible paint, that’s not nearly as scary a fate.

    There is a certain degree of beauty to the finished product, even if the whiteness is overwhelming. The direction and camerawork were lovely, though would have done better still by (if budget had permitted) being even more overtly Reflex still. I’d even go along with the soundtrack these days, though it was all a little generic rather than being a succession of appropriate jokes – or, alternatively, a Strachan and Strachan special to bring up some tension.

    I was hopeful about this coming in and do think it’s conceptually interesting. The principle may yet work if you reformat… well, virtually everything apart from the scanner. What I was expecting was a series of booby-trapped obstacles, somehow, which the contestants had to avoid; trip a tripwire and get a splash, open the wrong door and there’s a bucket atop it waiting for you, and so on. I was also expecting a rapid turnover of couples, each being eliminated when they lose their spotless status, and one heroic couple (at most) beating all the odds.

    At what point do Possessed build up a track record?

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  14. Peter Todd

    I did enjoy the first game where the teams had to catch the sizes of the balloons. But rest of the game sadly was not for me untill the final where they had to work as team on not falling in the paint and running up the slippery slide. But all round will I watch it again if ITV signs a series.
    I will if they change the middle games.

    Spotless 1.04m

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  15. Weaver

    Hmm. I seem to be the only person here to give a thumbs-up – and even then it’s “yes but there need to be changes”.

    The flaws: white-on-white didn’t work. The shot direction wasn’t quite there, that could be too much white. Erling above is right: the paint was more runny than ideal.

    The main challenges are built well, though I wouldn’t like to see any of them every week.

    And I agree that an all-or-grubby round would fit well. For instance, the spiders’ web in the final pour a vat of paint if disturbed. Or traps that burst on the players as they complete a physical task. There’s *lots* of room for more inventive games.

    Appreciated the sound editing. Cutting the show to very contemporary pop music worked in this case, the right beats appeared, built a story, and stopped at the exact right moment.

    Don’t agree that the prize was stingy – primetime Tipping Point gives away about as much per show.

    On first viewing, I didn’t notice there was no event commentator. Reflex was a promising show ruined by a snark-voice. But having the participants narrate only ever works on Blue Peter, where they go into a booth and do proper voice-overs. They had a voice of god to give the outline, and explain the rest by captions.

    Would I like to have a go? Frankly, yes.

    Feels like a show that could do well on export, it’s big and brash but in a way that the ITV audience doesn’t get at once.

    And that, Chris, may become Possessed’s calling card: quality entertaining shows too subtle for these islands.

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  16. Steve Williams

    Interesting to read about the merits of not having a host and the contestants explain what they’re doing instead. I’m reminded of BBC1 early noughties flop Meet My Folks – which interestingly isn’t on UKGS – which also dispensed with a host, which was a terrible decision because it just made the show look even more contrived and drew extra attention to the artifice (“I couldn’t believe it! There was a lie detector!”). You need a host to paper over the cracks and explain things properly. In addition it meant the contestants came across as especially irritating because they had to be so verbose.

    If there ever is a UKGS entry for Meet My Folks, my fascinating fact about it is that it got dropped from Saturday nights quite quickly, with the final episodes burnt off after eleven o’clock on Friday nights, and I remember reading in the Guardian that those Friday episodes got quite impressive shares and Lorraine Heggessey actually asked for pitches for other game shows that could work in that slot. But nobody sent in anything worthwhile, it seems.

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    1. Brig Bother Post author

      How interesting, this is the show that was like the film Meet the Parents, with the lie detector?

      I was sure there used to be an entry for that.

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  17. Alex S

    I agree with pretty much everything said above, so I won’t repeat anything.

    One thing that frustrated me about the Rock Paper Scissors round is that they completely wasted the mental aspect of the game, rather than having to stop and think whether or not they won they just both pulled on the weapons until one released. A much cleverer twist would be that the contestants had to start with their hands on the table, both weapons were unlocked but the weapon of the losing player backfired back at them if they pulled the trigger, rather than shooting forwards. That way you’re forcing the players to work out whether to attack or run.

    I don’t really see why they didn’t edit the games in such a way that we saw both teams cut together, rather than one team followed by the second team. It made the whole thing feel rather sluggish although I appreciate that the set would make it very difficult to tell the difference between who we were watching.

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