Spin the Wheel

By | July 16, 2019
They should use this for Name That Tune.
12m and 48 spaces if you wanted to know.

There’s not much going on at the moment, so let’s have a quick chat about Justin Timberlake produced Fox show Spin the Wheel, which promises a potential top prize of $23m.

In it, a person with an Inspirational Backstory (TM) is invited to spin the wheel up to 16 times. The first 12 spins have an attached question, getting it right adds the money to the bank, getting it wrong takes it away again. Wedges increase (and decrease into minus figures) in value as the game progresses, top values starting at $500,000 all the way up to $3m on spin sixteen.

Each round adds a new fillip – round two introduces the friend or family member who must make decisions from a pod, whether to double the value of the question or not.

Round three is the best round I think – there are four questions and four wedges to play for – a $250k, $500k, $1m and $2m. The contestant sees the first half of the question and must decide which wedge they want to play for. The jeopardy is that the bigger the wedge, the more “back to zero” spaces get added if they’re wrong. If they get it right the contestant can choose amongst how many spaces (1-4) they want to split it across evenly (replacing one of four $1, $10, $100 and $1,000 sections of the wheel). The wheel gets spun after every question.

In the final round there are no more questions, however the friend/family has to make a secret decision before each spin whether to bail with an offer or not – if the player hits a Back to Zero space, or they hit enough minus figures to go below zero, the game is immediately over. It’s the same mechanic from For The Rest Of Your Life basically, except the player must keep spinning to the end regardless and can’t decide to bail out themselves. Each spin adds a new mega money amount to the wheel, but also more Back to Zeros. In the end, the friend/family tries to keep a straight face as they tell the player whether they bailed or not.

There’s an OK show in here (as everyone has pointed out it’s basically a circular version of The Wall) but the big elephant in room is that they’ve somehow managed to make spinning a massive wheel seem a bit… dull? The player must push it to start it but the actual speed and length of spin is decided entirely randomly by computer and this is always going to feel a bit suspect when the bottom of the wheel is a BtZ area even though it’s almost certainly above board. It’s a similar sort of wheel to something like The Big Spin, with a bouncy ball inside determining what the selection is, but in not having the contestant have any meaningful input it lacks The Big Spin‘s actuality.

The other issue (and it’s an issue The Wall suffers with as well) is that the sums of money in play and flying about feel so large it feels like largely meaningless monopoly money. I struggled to engage with it all, I’m not sure I actually enjoyed it a great deal until the Build Your Wheel section.

Dax Shepard (from films) is, you know, fine, he can handle the game OK but is not a terribly engaging host in his own right.

Ultimately it feels like it’s missing something. From a gameplay progression point of view the format makes sense, but the first half an hour isn’t really doing much for me.

Bother’s Bar Doesn’t Play Badly

By | July 13, 2019

No vid this weekend as I’m contractually obliged to work. However, if I can get six people together this Thursday night, 9-10pm, for a voyage through time then there’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. You may need Discord (since Google Hangouts is shutting in a few months, I need to start seriously exploring alternatives for this sort of thing). If you’re interested, please let me know (preferably below as I might forget you on Twitter). If I get fewer than six there are a few options for things to do instead.

Taskmaster S9 line-up

By | July 10, 2019

This was revealed after tonight’s Taskmaster final:

  • David Baddiel
  • Ed Gamble
  • Jo Brand
  • Katy Wix
  • Rose Matafeo

Wix the only unknown quantity for me.

The studio shows record in about a fortnight.

What’s on your banana, babes? It’s fifty pounds!

By | July 10, 2019

Rylan’s Supermarket Sweep! Hurrah! Although interestingly it’s set for ITV2 and “pre-watershed”. I know I’m going to get comments saying “hey, it should be at 9:25!!!” but come on. At the very least ITV2 don’t put original programming on during daytime, Ellen excepted. Will it be Rylan versus Corrie?

20 episodes over four weeks and “will feature iconic elements of the original”, which presumably means saying “… Dale” after every answer. Sixty minute episodes, but presumably we aren’t about to get twenty-minute sweeps. I suspect there might be added inflatable physical challenge elements at a guess.

The other burning question is which lucky, lucky supermarket will be sponsoring it?

No-Limit No-Limit

By | July 8, 2019

So today a new international record is going to be set (it’s been spoilt pretty much everywhere so it’s not like this is news), Los Lobos are about to win a €4m+ progressive jackpot, on top of the €2m+ they’ve earned as returning champions on daily Spanish quiz Boom!, one of the shows from about five years ago everyone reckoned was going to be the next big thing, and then wasn’t. This is getting a primetime special.

Los Lobos in action last November. SPOILER: They win.

Our Italian correspondent CeletheRef tells us “Nicolò Scalfi, 87-times champion of the Italian “Who’s Still Standing?” couldn’t defend his title and went home with all of €651,000 the highest sum won on the show.”

It is not uncommon for champions on Tout le Monde Veut Prende Sa Place to rack up 100+ victories (and even then if they lose they can offer previous winnings to the winning challenger to walk away and keep the seat). Les Douze Coups de Midi also has champions occasionally rack up 50+ wins, the record holder having 193 appearances. People talked about those.

People talked about Jeopardy when Ken Jennings was winning. They talked about it with James Holzenhauer on his run.

They probably didn’t talk about it when Ian Lygo was forced to retire at 75 victories on 100%.

In making shows self-contained because they’re apparently easier to broadcast, is someone missing a trick? Pasaparabra allows its champions to return indefinitely. Alphabetical, as well has having an endgame which was to all intents and purposes impossible (sidenote: audiences will accept very-hard-but-doable, they won’t accept having to get 26 out of 20) kicked its champions out after 10 games.

The one UK exception is Who Dares Wins, but the record for that is only 12 games.