OKemming X

By | May 8, 2023

Over the weekend I watched the first few episodes of Bestemming X, this year’s hottest new format by the sounds of it (the BBC are doing it as Destination X as an NBC co-prod, like they did with The Traitors). In it a group of people in a blacked out bus have to figure out where they are using nothing but their intuition, the windows on the bus occasionally untinting, winning challenges to earn tips and so on, at the end of the episode everyone puts an X on a map of Europe with their guesses, and the person who is furthest away has to get off the bus. At the end of the series, the person who first finds the host at Destination X wins €50,000.

Everyone seems to have been sold on the idea on the basis of the first episode where it reveals to the viewer that nothing is as it seems – all the impressions production gives them, and they go to some lengths, is that they’ve been taken somewhere in England (the clues for this include but are not limited to: one half of a team winning a challenge and getting to skydive having been shown the white cliffs of Dover first, whilst the losing team are made to think they’re on a ferry by playing sounds in and having their bus loaded onto a crane for ninety minutes, everyone going to a quaint country house to eat a traditional English breakfast) but the winners of a task at the country house get the mindblowing tip that just before the elimination, they answer a call from an English red telephone box and are told to have a good look around only for the punchline, as the losing contestant is dropped off is that the Eiffel Tower is in the background and they were in Paris all along. “Huh,” as they say on American podcasts.

Herein lies my problem, and why I don’t think it’s going to take off in quite the same way other shows have, is that at no point is the show’s central mystery all that thrilling, although I’d watch the hell out of a making-of. The show comes from some of the people who used to work on De Mol, and you can certainly see the influences – it’s very stylishly produced and by and large the challenges are decently put together, but whereas De Mol works really hard to make its regular punchlines land, each episode here builds up to one bit and I can’t say the reveal moves me especially (in point of fact De Mol regularly uses the location as its extra contestant frequently to hilarious effect, Bestemming X somehow has to do that and not do that at the same time and doesn’t quite pull it off). Whatsmore having gone all-in on the deception aspect in episode one it barely gets touched upon in the following ones which seems odd as that’s what the show seems to have been sold upon. It’s an OK show, but I think it needs to work out what its strength is and lean into it more.

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