Together we’ll break these chains of love

By | September 18, 2020

We wrote about our possible misgivings with the upcoming US Weakest Link last week – basically it looks very pretty, Jane Lynch ought to be excellent, but they’ve added gameplay elements that look like they solve some issues but may have opened up several more, then Buzzerblog posted this:

Urgh. We have an early round with a chain that basically encourages banking after each question (great TV!) and a slightly later round that’s, frankly, slow as anything to get going. We always thought the US chain sucked and this isn’t doing anything to allay our fears.

Weakest Link UK always had a similar issue, in that in having so many players they have to bulk out the chain in such a way that by step four, your rate of change is increasing but your return on investment makes it less worthwhile not to bank. However, by accident or design, the chains held to a standard, four questions in a row = 20% of the target. Everything up to that point is always worth the gamble, 20% feels like a decent chunk (even if in reality it’s £200). As a game, the chain made much more sense starting with seven players as they eventually experimented with (2%, 4%, 10%, 20%, 40%, 70%, 100%) but as an elimination game it’s more of an entertaining journey with nine.

You can argue that these US chains make it much more worthwhile to go for it. And you’re right. Except have you considered how likely that is? Let us consider that if the probably of getting a question right is 90% – that’s easier than Tipping Point – then the probability of getting eight questions in a row correct, assuming nobody banks, is 43%. If you up the difficulty to 80% chance (consider the sort of Pointless questions which get around 80), that drops to 17%. More likely the difficulty will be around 70% or lower, and the chance of getting eight in a row here is 6%. So more likely than not, very little gets banked and we’re actually in not much better a position than the original show where of the million dollars on offer people took home about $30,000. Except now it looks more generous, but the prize pot probably ends up at being about a dime. Now the show has to work really hard not to be seen as a waste of time.

This is of course all theory but we won’t have to wait long to see how it all shakes down in practice.

9 thoughts on “Together we’ll break these chains of love

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    Basically, you eliminate banking and give them the highest chain, or you eliminate voting and just get rid of statistically the weakest person. But everything is symbiotic – as a game you have to juggle everything, and you need people to make bad decisions to give the host something to riff off, so I’m not sure you’d have a better show.

  2. Brekkie

    Only banking the longest chain could work, so if firstly they bank after say 4 they then can’t bank again until a chain of 5 or more, with the money replacing what was previously banked rather than adding to it.

    Then change the final to contestants trying to bank the longest individual chain, with play swapping with an incorrect answer, rather than the lazy shoot out format.

  3. Brandon

    The lowest amount won on the old money tree was (from memory) $30k and the highest was $135k, I’m predicting we see a highest biggest win and a smaller record low.

  4. Luke S

    In case it’s of interest – the English language version of Sing On! (Netflix’s international karaoke competition) has popped up, hosted by TItuss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. There are also German and Spanish versions which were released a while back. It’s perfectly competent – the kind of thing that no one here would find much to complain about on an ITV Saturday night, but which probably wouldn’t trouble the top five at the end of the year.

    It’s basically karaoke Weakest Link – contestants sing a song, their notes are analysed by computer, the best singer gets immunity and someone gets voted off. Right notes contribute to a communal jackpot (so there are fun choices about whether to vote off the good singers or the bad ones, and both options get taken).

    This has Stuart Shawcross as exec producer and it’s well made – it’s exactly as long as it needs to be, at about 35 minutes per episode, and you get the sense that it would have been streeeeeeetched a little bit on British TV. Slightly American production and casting, but not so much that it’s annoying.

    One nice touch is that during the voting off, any contestant who gets an elimination vote is asked to announce their vote next (which *should* avoid the dud ending where the final vote is crucial, but it’s one of the contestants who might plausibly be eliminated). It’s very genial, I’m not sure it’s appointment viewing, but likely to be of some interest to anyone here who has a subscription.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    Thanks to a preview video, we’ve actually got some Round 1 probabilities we can throw in – in episode one, 12 right and 4 wrong for a batting average of 0.75, eight in a row at those odds is 10%.

  6. David

    The chains really suck:

    25k- 1/2/3/4/5/7.5/10/25

    50k- 1/2.5/5/7.5/10/15/25/50

    75k- 1/2.5/5/7.5/10/25/50/75



    500k- 2.5/5/10/25/50/100/250/500


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