Show Discussion: Epic Win

By | August 20, 2011

5:30pm, BBC1

I largely suspect everything I said about the pilot is likely to still stand. Basically this is a comical take on You Bet! with added Chicken element. I thought the pilot was highly enjoyable, hopefully it translates well to TV.

33 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Epic Win

  1. Alex

    And of course, if it does anything less than good someone is just going to call it “Epic Fail”.

    Does Alexander Armstrong have a thing with names that tempt fate like this and Pointless?

  2. Mart with an Y not an I

    I, for one am looking forward to this. I’ve been hoping for a slightly modern re-make of You Bet, and whilst this technically isn’t it – from Brigs review of the pilot, it’s near enough.

    With televoting technology as good as it is, and with faster modern editing, if You Bet was to come back, then you could have the home audience challenge. Give the set-up and explain during the previous week, then everyone votes yes or no, and then if the show is recorded the day before transmission, you could record home vote challenge for the next edition.

    Maybe, Red or Black turning up soon, could spark interest in this type of programming (one would suspect bringing You Bet back would be cheaper series for series than the latest Cowell high noise level fest as well.)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Fun fact: the original Wetten Das? had home viewer telephone voting to determine the scores for each challenge.

      1. CeleTheRef

        the same on the Italian show. also viewers could vote on the outcome of the “shower bet” (hosts vs the studio audience). some random callers who bet on the correct outcome won a prize.

  3. Alex

    I have to say, I’m actually quite liking this. Which is surprising.

  4. Brig Bother Post author

    I think it’s missing… Something, but I also think it’s a good silly show for its timeslot – was expecting more of the judge’s chat pre challemge actually.

    Differences to pilot – the big screen is on the opposite side of the set, winners got a big sticker as well as the trophy but losers got a tiny sticker.

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      All right, that was based on coming in to the show half-way. Having gone back and watched the start, I like it less.

      The tone of much of the start of the show is surprisingly unsympathetic and sneering, and that makes it much less enjoyable for me. Now the concept of minor talents is a fun one; however, leaving it to people to be self-effacing about their own acomplishments is a great thing, belittling people’s talents and their worth is… well, pretty negative stuff, aimed more towards the Come Dine With Me crowd rather than anything else. The money game is as out-of-place as I had feared; it seems that they are deliberately trying to cater for those who seek negative entertainment with the variety of sub-optimal outcomes that can arise (task failure, contestants undervaluing themselves, contestants overvaluing themselves) as well as those who seek positive entertainment by waving off the winners in glory no matter how much or how little they take home. On the other hand, the Epic Fail conclusion is more sympathetic than I had feared.

      Not sure about using Joe Lycett (sp?) for big reveals. It’s very low-tech. It’s distinctively different as a result, and perhaps suitably low-tech in a mickey-taking show. Nevertheless, Lycett and his gurning are as subtly disapproving as the rest of the show.

      Conclusion: 6/10 if and only if you don’t see the start of the show. Richard Van’t Riet is not a pleasant person, but then we knew that already.

      1. KP

        A show that should be out-and-out unabashed Saturday teatime silliness really doesn’t work in Endemol’s hands. They’re always trying to inject high drama and negative entertainment into formats, when it’s not necessarily appropriate to do so. This would appear to be a very good example of a format where it isn’t.

        (Maybe the fact DoND has done so well in daytime – even if it’s now merely reasonably successful – has given them the impression that they can indeed succeed with negative entertainment where you might not expect it. Maybe the same is true in this slot of Total Wipeout – but for me that works because it’s a ridiculous show that pretends to be very serious.)

        And maybe the Come Dine With Me crowd is largely the same as the DoND crowd, or at least that part thereof who are tolerant of the show’s intolerance towards certain (usually the cautious) contestants?

      2. Brig Bother Post author

        You see it’s interesting, I thought it was fairly sympathetic to the contestants, and certainly gives them a chance to shine on their own terms. Perhaps you saw something different to me somewhere, whilst it would be very easy to take the piss out a lot of these people for entertainment, I’m not convinced there’s anything here which isn’t generally good natured (and frankly it’s nice to see they can give some back as well).

        Also this is nothing to do with Endemol, it’s BBC Entertainment in house.

        1. Weaver

          The notes I made go from “laughing at the contestants” to “the right sort of uselessness” and “I’d have got four Take That songs in Bits ‘n’ Pieces”. Certainly improved as the show went on. Cash round spoiled the flow badly, but the most epic thing was the sheer volume of possible catchphrases.

          1. Alex

            The sheer number of “topic of stunt”-related so-bad-they’re-good one-liners was suitably epic, yes.

        2. KP

          I only realised that when Joe posted negatively about the show. 😀

          Richard van’t Riet’s involvement suggests at least that some of DoND’s negative entertainment emphasis has carried over, and Chris certainly sensed that in his comments. Obviously you saw things differently.

          Chris did note that his concerns were focused on the first part of the show, and Weaver inferred similarly. I suspect the show was doing no more and no less than playing up its inherent ridiculousness, which is easily going to be interpreted as mocking the contestants’ skills unless and until the reverse is made explicitly clear.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            I’ve rewatched it, I’m still failing to see anything in it that a) isn’t warm and b) isn’t playing up the ridiculousness of the the situation. For the lowest stakes on primetime British TV, no less!

            Although naturally a discussion as to the relative personal niceness of Richard van’t Riet would be hysterical.

          2. Travis P

            Don’t forget Richard van’t Riet isn’t wholly an Endemol TV director these days. Usually the shows he currently directs or have directed have received respectable acclaim on this site. Also, he updates his website now and again.


            How many people remember he directed Duel and The Krypton Factor revival?

          3. Chris M. Dickson

            I took a bit of a cheap shot by taking aim at Richard van’t Riet, on reflection, when the decision as to show content would more accurately reflect upon the producer rather than the director. That said, when you have sufficient skills and experience, you probably have some choice in the matter as to which jobs you take, whereas a newcomer to the industry can be expected to take what they can get; while RvR’s IMDB is fairly heavily studded with pretty negative shows, his fuller list on his own web site reveals no particular predisposition. Sorry, Richard, if you’re reading. The direction on Epic Win was perfectly fine, though not startlingly innovative. (I have a suspicion that the show budget might be reasonably tight…)

            No such backpedalling when it comes to much of the rest of the show, though. First off: epic is an adjective, not an adverb. Language never stops growing and I am in favour of television giving us useful new pieces of vocabulary, but “epic win” as a verb is, well, uglier than even “a pointless”. Does one talk about the verb “to grand slam”, for instance? I don’t claim that “epic win” is the first such two-part fake verb (though I can’t think of any others off the top of my head…) but I consider it a pretty unsightly one.

            The main issue I have with the show is its undercurrent of social conservatism – the concept that there are valid and invalid pursuits and that someone’s preferred leisure activity can be considered to be an objectively bad way to spend time, reinforced by the concept of giving judges the authority to criticise people’s talents, further reinforced by the concept of giving them the ability to further belittle these talents by judging them to be less than completely valuable with direct financial consequences. (Even the passing comments from judges implying that they “should” take a break from whatever activity entertains them are very judgmental.) Anyone who goes on the show with a routine to share should be celebrated, not belittled, and there are so many ways for participants to end up with sub-optimal outcomes (failing the trial, overvaluing themselves, undervaluing themselves…) that it is easy for the jealous and illiberal to consider that the participants have made themselves look foolish by participating in the show. Indeed, the show feels less like You Bet! and more like Britain’s Got Talent, complete with similarly negative impressions given of acts that refuse to fall into a very small number of categories. I’d rather live in a society where any leisure pursuit, as harmless as the ones found on the show, was considered worthwhile, rather than Tall Poppy Syndrome cutting down all those except the same very small number found acceptable.

            Lastly, bearing in mind that one show doesn’t represent a series, another issue to look out for tied in with social conservatism is the diversity of the show. If the show proves to send out a message that only the privileged (largely, white cisgendered able-bodied adult males) have interesting pastimes, or have sufficient capacity to excel at their interesting pastimes, then that would be extremely worrying – though it wouldn’t be clear whether to blame the show’s talent bookers, for either insufficient efforts to look wider than the privileged for their booking or for being dismissive of the talents offered by those without privilege, or to blame society for requiring those without such privilege to struggle so hard for effective survival that they do not have the spare capacity to spend on such diverse leisure pursuits.

            Unrelatedly, I’ve got a vague feeling about how the lawnmower challenge (and what a smashing bloke that competitor was!) might have been won. Some of the lawnmowers looked considerably wider than others and thus different lawnmowers might cut different widths at a single, er, cut. If the contestant could measure the width of the strip cut (and there was a tape measure evident, though the height of the strip remaining is surely not a factor as I would imagine most lawnmowers to be able to cut a variety of different heights) then they could match it to the capacity of the lawnmower to cut the number of options down. Still impressive, though.

  5. Anonymous

    What is with Alexanda Armstrong and having having a male assistants? Ben Miller must get very jealous of the men he sees on other shows. This year alone he’s been with Richard Osman, Dave Lamb and now Joe Lycett.

  6. Jon

    That was me by the way.

    Also I wonder if many who watch this will now believe Lycett is man behind the X Factor voice overs.

  7. Jon

    Having just watched the show in full, may I just say it was a very enjoyable hour of TV and it will be a shame if it doesn’t do well.

    It’s kinda like the BBC’s answer to Odd One In, but I think this is quite a bit better. I guess you could say Alexanda Armstrong is the BBC’s answer to Bradley Walsh as their roles at the broadcasters seem to mirror each other.

  8. The Banker's Nephew

    I really liked the show. Alexander was great, Joe was great, and the panel was, I thought, pleasantly honest with their cash totals. The only real problem was the the first act, while impressive, was about as exciting to watch as two flies sitting on Keith Lemon’s shoes, which would be very dull viewing indeed.

      1. The Banker's Nephew

        A guy with a very interesting moustache pedaling an exercise bike and using his breath to blow up hot water bottles.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            I thought it was a pretty weak challenge – at least make him pedal above a certain speed! Thought the rest were fine, though.

            I think it’s a shame they didn’t have the fish-slapping man back – it’s basically the challenge they’ve predicated the entirety of the publicity upon. And it was funny.

  9. El Condor

    Can I just point out that with Epic Win we’re going down the rabbit hole here voicover wise: in Joe Lycett we now have a man impersonating a man impersonating Patrick Allen. Best not to think about that for too long actually.

  10. Mart with a Y not a I

    Before I start, the lawnmower challenge is an interesting case of someone high up on the production team not thinking through the process from start to finish. I couldn’t help thinking that if that was done on You Bet, we would have seen a MOTP pointing and selecting the 5 mowers from the line-up just to remove any elimation of doubt that there wasn’t something ‘odd’ going on.

    Right. I’ve just watched it again via I-player and I think I know why for me it’s not firing on all cylinders.

    I don’t think (via production issues) the show really knows what it wants to be. It’s either and out and out light entertainment ‘people’ show for BBC One, or, a spoof/ironic take on You Bet (for those that remember it) or Britains Got Talent. It’s got this air of make the show and see what feel and pace comes out like in the edit suite.

    Alexander doesn’t know whether to be the straightman and let the audience work it out for themselves, or become a paroidy of slick excitable host. The show should have the feel of a low rent programme trapped with ideas of being high budget/concept.

    And I just don’t get the whole ‘win and proof yourself’ then go away with £0 by over-estimating your talent angle. It doesn’t work other than to spin out the show, the time which could have been used by shoving another contestant onto the stage.
    A better option would have been for the ‘celbs’ to choose the amount of cash out of £1,000 as now, but then have the studio audience vote if they like the task/talent, then reduced the total by £1 for everyone that voted ‘no’.

    I’d make the set slightly bigger, to create more space (it felt too cramped) and I’d also drop the unexpectedly well produced pre-challenge vt’s and the money saved spent on getting Peter Dickson to do the over the top shouting instead.

    Thing is, it could actually sell quite well on the international format markets (and no doubt the BBC would offer some of the contestants out to repeat the challenges abroad) but at the moment it’s like a 90% complete format, with some holes that need to be shorn up properly.

    But at least it doesn’t have a mechanical hare with demon eyes roaming around the studio…

    I’ll press the button to stop the graphic at 7/10.

  11. Chris M. Dickson

    Okey-doke, so I went off on one somewhat last week. Let’s watch this week’s episode and see whether it is as black-hearted as I painted the picture. I’m watching this on V+ and am subtracting 30 seconds from the clock for the long BBC One promo at the start. Spoilers up the wazoo, obvs.

    00:06 – it’s rather rude to describe the contestants’ talents as pointless even in the opening credits.
    00:50 – “heroes” gets a tick, “jaw-droppingly senseless superpowers” gets a cross.
    01:02 – “types of useless skills people will be demonstrating on the show”. Value judgment, value judgment, value judgment.
    01:38 – “gazing in wonder at public pointlessness”. Crikey, it’s like it’s a deliberate cross-promotion.
    02:33 – mmm… equating the presence of yoghurts in the fridge with contestants’ successes, however light-heartedly, can hardly be considered “bigging them up”.
    03:12 – the contestants’ introductory videos are far better and more sympathetic than they would be in most other shows, so the fun and value of appearing in your own video is part of the prize, I guess.
    04:21 – “identify meat… with his feet!” “That is spectacularly useless, yes.”
    06:11 – this is pretty inherently funny, and I like the one-liners.
    08:26 – anything where the Epic Win graphic comes up, complete with fireworks, is pretty kind. An obvious footbath would be respectful under the circumstances, though I suspect one was given off-camera.
    08:54 – “I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I initially would be”. Why bother saying this out loud?
    11:43 – Epic Win, smiles, applause, fireworks, joy!
    12:05 – Exactly right! Earns a handshake.
    12:56 – “my hero and yours”. Hurrah, and what an exit!
    13:20 – “stadium of senselessness”.
    13:38 – I wonder if there are deliberate colour signals in use on the set here, with red for introduction and blue for victory? No, this isn’t party political.
    14:35 – this is an old school
    You Bet! vehicle-control challenge, and all the better for it, and a challenger with excellent credentials. No real intro video for the video-taped challenges, though.
    15:57 – Hurrah! But again quite a short video – probably less than a minute of action, heavily edited and no clock. Takes the emphasis away from the achievement a little. Just goes to show that this isn’t You Bet!, unfortunately.
    16:49 – at least AA is on the contestant’s side when the judges are picky. Putting an attachment on a digger is no more cheating than a snooker player using a rest; I’d argue that it makes the achievement better, not worse.
    19:21 – could it be that there are many more offers made than shown?
    20:11- zero pounds, oh no. Well, if he owns Diggerland, he is unlikely to be short of brass. (NB Value judgment on the viewer’s part.)
    20:26 – booing of Micky Flanagan for only awarding GBP 19, and AA is sympathetic to the contestant and negative regarding the judge.
    20:50 – second week running that Micky Flanagan has “sent out a signal”, reinforcing his own importance and the privilege the show has given him.
    21:20 – AA gives a big send-off to cushion the blow and he gets a glorious exit as “a true hero”, with the heroic music.
    22:13 – erm, diversity watch pricks its ears up at this point. The privileged have exciting challenges; the less privileged are “just’ fans… of people who happen to have privilege. Two weeks’ worth of swallows don’t make a summer but it’s an indicator, isn’t it?
    23:30 – miscellaneous microaggressive subtle misogyny, suggesting that fans’ ambitions – particularly women – are to live off their idols. Unworthy.
    23:52 – “for anyone who doubts that being obsessed with John Travolta qualifies as a superpower” – OUCH! You didn’t need to qualify any of the other contenders’ abilities in the same way, did you?
    23:05 – “what a surprisingly useful skill that is!” Stop making patronising value judgments that skills, talents or pastimes have to be “useful”, you lousy show.
    24:50 – please don’t shoot down contestants’ attempts to ad lib and play along with your little sketch.
    26:06 – CLOCK, please, in a timed challenge.
    26:13 – OK, clock for the last thirty seconds is about fine.
    26:31 – hurrah! Nice crowd shot, too.
    28:20 – does AA really treat all contestants identically during the money game? (cf Edmonds, cf Schofield) There isn’t enough to built a case against him so far, but again one to watch.
    28:40 – money, hooray!
    29:13 – But she could have won GBP 2996! JL: “What have you done?” – standard attempt to attempt to build needless remorse where none was required.
    29:46 – “There’s nothing you can do with this – we’re not going to see anything more ridiculous than this”. Hardly complimentary, is it?
    30:51 – equal star treatment of another winner. Good!
    31:05 – “staggering skills”, a rather fairer description.
    32:15 – really like this challenge, definitely pretty burly stuff, which may be why it gets a very favourable presentation. Not sure if there is some borderline anti-health and safety suggestion. No “don’t try this at home”, FWIW.
    33:13 – again no clock; I wonder if they’ve been editing this for time?
    33:24 – AA says “one minute gone”, suggesting not.
    34:17 – AA says “one minute left on the clock”, suggesting so but not much. Standard, and if you were going to edit something, it would be the middle.
    35:08 – the clock has been true over the last minute. Epic win! 4/4!
    40:10 – not much to add here; very straight-bat stuff and probably the best reaction of the evening.
    40:28 – “public preposterousness”. I don’t know, that’s the sort of thing Boris Johnson would say and get away with.
    41:06 – ooh, there’s someone on the staff called Raewyn Dickson! Wonder if a distant relative? (Mmm… may be Dickson by marriage.)
    41:12 – I do rather like the music, but no credit for it.

    On reflection: rather more favorable than I remember, but not without issues, and there are some subtleties, potentially unintentional, to look out for. It may well have been an episode with kinder treatment all round. Pretty entertaining stuff, though; I kind of have a feeling that despite the issues I’m going to be drawn back time and time again, as long as the challenges continue to entertain, at least until the fishmonger getting slapped and Ben Pridmore doing the memory challenge!

  12. Chris M. Dickson

    Four episodes in and, well, I’ve been enjoying each episode more than the previous one. I’m wrong quite frequently but seldom change my mind as directly as I have about this. Curious to know which order the shows were filmed in, as each episode is just slightly different from the others, procedurally or presentationally, just ever so slightly.

    Surprised to see the fishmonger go 0-for when there’s a clip online (presumably from the pilot?) of him winning; also disappointed that Ben Pridmore couldn’t make it happen for real, though he was funny and silly and highly impressive… all the way even to the way out.

    Oh, and a definite tip of the hat to the continuity announcer before the show for playing along and awarding himself an epic win. Hee hee!

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Interesting differences in Ben Pridmore’s challenge between the pilot and the broadcast: they had more of a shop setup. Joe still put the items on, one of the judges picked up items off the shelf.

        Amused with Micky Flanagan’s comments, he was at the pilot!

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          They put fluffy dice on Colin Furze’s scooter when they bought it into the studio in the pilot.

          (Colin Furze is one of Sky One’s Gadget Geeks with Tom Scott going out later in the year.)

          Looks like the same footage from the pilot but the challenge was different – to cover half a mile in thirty seconds.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            Basically this is everyone from the pilot, although challengers three and four were swapped.

            The kick here sign was just a button.

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