Show Discussion: Take the Tower

By | September 25, 2018

Tuesdays, 9pm,

Yup, you read that right, ITV4 – this seems like quite the commission for it.

Dolph Lundgren off of films challenges teams to ascend his tower in order to win a holiday and cash. On each floor a challenge based on classic action movie scenes. Fail and get thrown out of the window and fall a la Alan Rickman in Die Hard, succeed and they’ll get to face off against Dolph in his penthouse for all the prizes.

It’s the gritty Incredible Games reboot the nation has been crying out for, and seems to be being played with it’s tongue very firmly in its cheek. Hopefully the budget stretches to decent challenges and tasks, as this appears to be Very Much The Sort Of Thing We Like.

Watched it? Let us know what you think in the comments.

28 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Take the Tower

  1. Brandon

    What’s the explanation for this being on ITV4? It really doesn’t seem to fit the usual type of thing on there at all. Like most people, I assume it was made for ITV2 but someone decided it wasn’t good enough.

    1. Malcolm Owen

      From the ITV press release back in June:

      Paul Mortimer, Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions said: “Take the Tower will anchor a night of new, original series this coming Autumn on ITV4 as we push forward with a commissioning strategy that puts male-skewed entertainment at the heart of Prime Time on the channel.”


    2. Brig Bother Post author

      ITV4’s a channel aimed at men (young men traditionally the hardest to advertise to) and was commissioned especially for it to reflect that. It’s being followed by Football Genius.

      I have no idea what would be considered a good number for it.

  2. Brig Bother Post author

    Well that was rather fun. Initially I thought it was a little bit OTT (the intro especially) and that less is sometimes more, but it didn’t take me long to get into it.

    There’s nothing hugely original with the challenges but there’s a certain amount of production chutzpah that made them entertaining. This is absolutely helped with the casting of the contestants which was giving me low-key Wild Things vibes throughout, that you understood exactly what the relationships are by the offhand comments that are expressed during gameplay, and absolutely reinforces my belief that relatively normal people in extraordinary situations are capable of being much funnier than the extra sorts who tend to just shout at things.

    Loved Dolph who seemed to ‘get’ it pretty quickly. Especially loved his scriptwriter.

    For me it’s a shame the trivia was mainly action film related, as much as I love the genre, there’s no real reason it couldn’t have been general knowledge but it is what it is. Would now love to see what the same production team would do with something like Dero.

    It’s also a pity that the amount of players who got through to the final doesn’t seem to effect the final, presumably the idea is success = more brains for the questions, but I still suspect winning tasks should be worth… more. And we’re talking a maximum of £980, so no great shakes really.

    So not a perfect format but one that manages to cover its faults by being fun to watch regardless. Good stuff.

  3. Will Stephen

    I enjoyed it, felt very Boyard lite in a lot of places but to be expected given the source material.

    Did anyone gather why they needed everyone up at the roof for the final game? Is it for each surviving member gets a ticket for the holiday or is it purely for the money trivia games? Because it felt rather pointless having surviving members at the end game like that. Nice sort of council challenge at the end which could go in Boyard with a bit of modification.

  4. Malcolm Owen

    Starting from the ground floor: The pre-show description is horrible. Once we get to Dolph “Oddly Decent Host” Lundgren’s better-than-expected monologue, things do look up.

    Team of 4 (one “hero” and three lackeys) enter the tower and then the lift. At stops, two get out and complete a movie-themed challenge (the harness scene from Mission Impossible, things involving vents, and a “it’s gonna blow” boiler… scene?) with both physical and (admittedly action film knowledge-based) mental elements.
    In each case, the Hero and a lackey takes part, with the lackey potentially “thrown out the window” by Dolph “Well Scripted” Lundgren if they screw up.

    Between games, there’s a quizzy interlude to win holiday money, if they win the entire show. Which is a nice change.
    Weirdly, because of the setup of the game, keeping the lackeys “alive” only really serves a purpose for the interlude, as preserving the brains trust will help earn more trip money.

    At the end, the hero takes on Dolph “Blimey, He’s Tall!” Lundgren in a quick-draw contest where they must hit targets using a mini paintball gun faster and more accurately than Dolph “Seriously Tall” Lundgren to win the holiday and cash.

    It is unclear the purpose of the lackey’s presence in the end-game, as they play no part except as an on-screen viewer. Since it appears winner-take-all as an endgame, it may be that the lackeys get sacrificed each time the hero fails the best-of-three, as if they’re extra lives, but it is unclear at this point if there is such a mechanic in play here.

    It could do with a tiny bit of extra polish as, while it has the vibe of being a cheap homage to the genre, it seems a little too Poundland when it could be Aldi. Maybe it’s a constrained budget due to hiring a star we’ve heard of, coupled with it being (and I still cannot believe it) on ITV4.

    Overall, it seems like it’d be a car crash, but it turns out to be an enjoyable shout-at-the-TV-at-the-team show. Give more consequences to failure than partaking in a cheesy half-arsed effect where they lie on green carpet, a smidge more money (If you’re already flying four people to South Africa to film this thing, a bit more in the prize budget than another holiday and up to £1000 between four people would be nice…) and it would be worthy of at least a second series.

    1. ScoreCount

      See, I got the weird impression that anyone “thrown off” was excluded from winning a ticket? Maybe I’m wrong, who knows.

  5. Matt C

    The overwhelming feeling I got from it is, well, it’s an adult CITV gameshow. And rest assured, I don’t mean that as a negative in the slightest! It’s the whole aesthetic of how it’s sincerely true to the theme, albeit with a tongue very firmly in cheek. I guess that ties into the various discussions of Richard Ayoade on the Maze compared to the previous hosts: Lundgren plays it true to the *fantasy* of the conceit in a way that O’Brien did and Ayoade doesn’t, and that made his hosting way more enjoyable than I was expecting.

    I guess another thing that made me make kids’ telly associations is how it was quite happy to relocate to different sets as the games require, and have the editing preserve the narrative of the storyline, with the central lift-and-lobby set being repurposed as required.

    Of course, there’s always going to be a question hanging over the game variety; I certainly recall one noticeable game in the intro that didn’t show up today, so there’s at least one more to play with, but I hope there’s more beyond that!

    How long’s this run for?

  6. Matt C

    Do we have any framework for understanding what ‘good’ ratings would be for this? I’m not sure what ballpark ITV4 would generally fall into.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Having a quick look on BARB, 300k would suggest a pretty good hit, so anything above 150k probably OK, especially if the demo is right.

  7. Alex S

    39k for this, followed by 29k for Football Genius.

    Even more interesting are the figures for males between 16-35, who are clearly the target audience. Take The Tower was watched by 2k people in that category and Football Genius was, according to BARB, watched by zero!

    1. David B

      Ooof. That’s the problem when you’re starting from such a low base – people aren’t going to know ITV4 as a place for new entertainment; it’s for repeats of old drama. You could put the world’s best new format on there and it would still take a few weeks for people to find it.

      Maybe it’ll trend upwards, but in truth ITV4 need a long-term investment plan if they’re going to reposition the channel as a rival for Dave.

  8. CeleTheRef

    Heard on L’Eredità:

    Q: Sometimes disturb flights: T….
    A: Terrorists!
    (it was “turbulences”)

    By the way, Flavio Insinna is the new host and it’s no April’s fools this time. 🙁

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The idea is that the contestants are “miniaturised” or they’ve set up mini-versions of famous places in studio to set high-pressure tasks in, with a possible top prize of £250,000. Something like that anyway, like a mixture of The Cube and Endemol’s XXL.

  9. Chris M. Dickson

    Lots to like here; yes, it’s a bit Incredible Games, but it’s also a bit Swap Team, which is always a welcome surprise. It will always look good, if ever so slightly cheap in a few places, so one might expect that it may be repeated unto infinity… at least, as long as people remember Dolph Lundgren. The questions won’t age badly, except for the one about “how many Expendables movies have there been”, where there surely could be more made in the series over time. (I reckon it’s a matter of time before they do one where the usual team of Expendables take on a team of similarly superannuated British bad guys, who would probably just about be the cast of King of Thieves.)

    I enjoyed the whimsical announcements of what could be found on each level of the tower, and the suggestion that the team won “nought pounds” at one point, which was funnier than even Joe Lycett. Can’t really work out why this was made, though – for the money they spent on it, it would probably have been cheaper to put each of the 2,000 males aged 18-35 who watched the show through it as if it were an escape room. If there hadn’t been swearing then this would have worked nicely as an early Saturday evening show. (I was hoping to see a little puff of smoke when people “hit the ground” after being thrown out of the window, like when Wile E. Coyote runs off the canyon in the Road Runner cartoons.)

    I also watched Football Genius afterwards. Remember how people mocked David Vine’s late-’60s Quiz Ball for being complicated, despite it getting half a dozen series, and not actually being all that tricky in practice? This was cut from similar cloth but yet more rule-heavy still – and, you know what, it wasn’t at all difficult to follow. Perhaps people have got better at explaining rules, or explaining only the rules that need to be explained rather than induced, or perhaps people have got better at following sets of rules, or maybe it will turn out to have been a mess that lost most viewers. Tim Vine got quite shouty at some points as a way of displaying excitement, which didn’t really work.

  10. David

    With all the stuff that’s happening here in the States today, I can’t get the Mastermind theme out of my head…

  11. Brig Bother Post author

    Episode two was still great fun, although the challenge of unlocking the padlocks in 40 seconds was a bit rum. Amused to see the water jug puzzle from Die Hard make an appearance, even if the puzzle itself is a bit old hat. The film colour anti-venom game was actually decent Crystal Maze stuff, helped in no doubt by the contestants being a bit thick.

    I wonder if Dolph is paid a bonus for winning the endgame or if the prod company just don’t mind/care about giving away holidays. His reactions seemed a bit slow tonight, as you’d probably expect someone in his sixties to be.

    1. David B

      I didn’t get the film reference that the first challenge was referring to (if, indeed, there was one).

  12. Chris M. Dickson

    I was hoping that Little Lion Entertainment’s big announcement was that they were going to be launching a Take The Tower experience, but a new Crystal Maze will have to do. There being 32 games instead of 24 is nice, at least. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original one weren’t long for this world after the West End one opens.

    Next time you take the coach to London, why not turn right out of the coach station and walk through Belgravia down Pimlico Road for the live Four Rooms experience? Sixty minutes, £5,000.

    1. Will Stepheb

      I could be wrong but I think their original location for the crystal maze was going to be in this sort of area but negotiations failed and had to resort to angel location instead and adapted it as best they could (was their opening night and loved it).

      If they need a tester I’m right here!

  13. Brig Bother Post author

    I’m still enjoying this, although it’s a shame there are only six scenarios.

    Also I suspect I think I got the unlocking padlocks thing wrong, it seemed last night they only had to do one in the time (possible) whereas in my head it was four (clearly not happening).


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