As we know, the US are bringing back Weakest Link in the US with Jane Lynch (good choice, we’re still waiting for a Robert Rinder led UK one) at the end of the month. Buzzerblog has been printing all sorts of rumours on Twitter, let’s HAVE SOME OPINIONS.
- The money chain’s going to change throughout the show.
Be of no doubt, the original US money chain was rubbish, starting at 1/125th of the top prize (as opposed to pretty much all our versions starting at 1/50th). On average, a UK episode gives away around 30% of its max prize, in the US, more like 5%. The majority of the game is played on those first four rungs of the ladder, so the question is is there going to be enough money in those rungs to feel worthwhile? Even in the age of Deal or No Deal, a £200 bank on Weakest Link felt like a big wodge. We don’t know what the top prize of the new WL is going to be, but it’s been suggested the final round is going to be worth $500k. It seems pretty unlikely to me that with a million dollar top prize we’ll be looking at $250k-300k for the winner, so it will probably still feel disappointing.
- Contestants can strategize before votes
This might be quite interesting. Will they have to do it in public or will there be some sort of behind closed doors element? The vote is still presumably going to be public. Is it just going to be people begging for their lives or will there be opportunity to do something more interesting?
- Immunity going to the Strongest Link
Of all the changes everyone wants this was it, unfortunately I also think everyone is wrong. Weakest Link was probably the first show to pitch itself in the space between “fair” and “just” – probably the defining formatting point of the 2000s. If someone steamrollers their way through the game – great. Is that entertaining? Not especially, and if you know you’re going to lose why try especially hard? You’ll end up winning a small bank. And if we’re left with a final three, let’s say a 9/10 player, a 7/10 player and a 6/10 player – goodbye 7/10 player – 9/10 player enjoy your money, no real point playing the final, nothing surprising is likely to happen. Again, is that entertaining? Does it create other problems whilst solving one?
From a technical perspective Weakest Link has many flaws, but it works as a show because people like lots of questions, the accumulation mechanic, amusing putdowns and frequently tragic and heroic outcomes, and in trying to make a better, more “just” game are you going to lose some of that?
Maybe they’ve managed to cast groups of broadly similar ability. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.