Show Discussion: Beat the Pack

By | March 4, 2013

Weekdaily, 3pm,

btpackJake Humphrey finally gets to host a proper quiz on BBC1, in this one contestants try and get questions right before the pack does.

We went and saw an episode being filmed, we thought it was a decent idea although the questions aren’t much fun and the game feels stingier than most, but you never know how it will edit and they won’t need to show them in filming order so there will probably be a decent win today.

33 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Beat the Pack

  1. Delano

    Beat the Pack did few wrong: decent quizzer (albeit the questions are on the intermediate-expert side), clear format.

    If there is something I want to change, it would be the final round: Control erring with 5 seconds to spare and the last of the Pack not capitalizing and then killing the remaining time is highly pointless.

    Verdict: 7/10

    Post-note: Marc Sylvan is quickly becoming the Big Brother of game show musical decoration. (In fact: Beat the Pack is his fourth project in 2013 after Britain’s Brightest, Face the Clock and The Common Denominator).

  2. Mart with a Y not an I

    Beat The Pack then.
    Applied for tickets, but didn’t get them (thanks BBC Audiences) and in a way, slightly glad based on the first show airing. It does smack of it dragging on, and a lot of spit and polish in post-production.

    Jake does a good job, as I thought he would, be he does overplay pretty insignificant bits of gameplay into something show stopping.

    Set. Was this set designed by the credited show designers 18 month old year child? It’s not easy on the eye. Bits from the skip of already demolished bits of Television Centre appear to have found it’s way onto the set.
    LED walls, ribbon lights,varilites, a huge screen at one end, metal scaffolding, and ice blue pack desk which leads to uneven lighting levels. Horrid.
    It also looks very tight and compact – even with the deceiving wide angle camera lenses.

    Graphics. Lovely.

    Music. Sylvan and his keyboard. Cheap and nasty sounding. And I’m sure the correct answer sting has been used in another show.

    Format. Ok, it’s not the easiest to pick up. It needs concentration from Jakes reading of them to fully understand them – which didn’t help with being distracted by weird direction to shoot the set from odd and moving angles, and choppy editing.

    Biggest hole, is the end game (as mentioned above).
    There was no mention of a time limit to answer each of the control’s questions within the 75 seconds – which leads to obvious………… thoughtful…….thinking………soaking up ………time before answering, and yet, our member of the pack was pulled up on a time fault.
    The way to correct that is to knock £250 off the bank total for every 3 seconds of time used giving back an answer.

    The one thing going for it, is that, for once, it looks like someone will go home with a few notes in their back pocket on each show, as a lot of circumstances have to stumble over the right steps for no-one to win anything on each show. And for a daytime show, that’s a rare breed to spot in the wilds of the schedules these days.

    All in all, not a bad (if unpleasant set to look at) quizzer.

    7/10 (should really be 6, but the high ‘winner wins something’ factor gets it an extra point)

    1. Lewis

      “The one thing going for it, is that, for once, it looks like someone will go home with a few notes in their back pocket on each show, as a lot of circumstances have to stumble over the right steps for no-one to win anything on each show.”

      Unless they throw some pity money in when it happens, this is actually really easy. Final category, control gets wiped out (either with a wrong answer or the two remaining pack members getting it correct). When control’s knocked out, the bank goes to zero and next player plays on from the next category – only there is no next category, it’s endgame time.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Yes indeed, and whatsmore this is an inbuilt feature of the show – the game is designed to make it easier to eliminate people towards the end. If there’s an endgame with no money, the winner of it gets to come back as the Control player on another episode.

        You have to answer questions within three seconds in the endgame apparently.

        This is all in the recording report…

        1. Delano

          Category Six also sets incentives for Control to cheat his way in the final if he is able to Double Answer the question, as I witnessed today.

          Can’t help it, but Beat the Pack more and more resembles a automobile/train being developed way too quickly and contracts to multiple flaws. The customers (here: viewers) don’t seem to mind now…

    2. Delano

      Judging by your first paragraphs, I too think Beat the Pack feels more like a Saturday/Lotto (strikethrough may be on hand or not) evening quiz show than a daytime quizzer.

      This is a surefire blunder to kill a format without giving it time to flourish.

  3. Lewis

    I can only say what everyone else said: the endgame is just very flawed. Since the time limit to answer any given question wasn’t mentioned, it’s not immediately obvious what reason the champ has to answer at all, and just leave 75 seconds of awkward dead air (I imagine there actually is a time limit to answer each question on his end, as there was when the challenger was answering, but it wasn’t mentioned). As it is, it encourages very long pauses before answering even the simplest of questions.

    There’s a few good ways around this too. If the champ answers x questions correctly before time, then they get the money automatically regardless of steals. They have to answer y questions correctly within the time to qualify for the money otherwise the challenger gets it regardless of steals. A monetary penalty for timewasting. I’m surprised nobody really thought about this.

  4. Ken in Hong Kong

    I just think the way to fix the end game is to require the PIC (player in control) to get five or six correct answers to win the bank, and if the opponent can steal three, then he/she steals the bank. Five seconds for each question should be sufficient, but the 75-second clock has no point for the reasons mentioned above.

    I also would like one other change during the main game: If the PIC answers correctly, then any pack member who also answered correctly should be safe from elimination. I don’t like eliminating a pack member because they “look too clever”. I think it would also eliminate a weaker player, making the final a better game.

    And for goodness sake, pick up the pace.

  5. Ken in Hong Kong

    Then let the PIC choose, but only if all members are right, because otherwise, the PIC would have been eliminated.

  6. Brig Bother Post author

    From @TVRatingsUK on Twitter:

    . @mrjakehumphrey #BeatthePack averaged 967k/14.8% yesterday, peaking at 1.06m. Comfortably won the slot and was well above slot average 🙂

    Nice one,although seeing as Perfection got 1.1m on Friday, that’s quite a long term slot average comparison.

    It’ll be interesting to see where it goes, decent four figure wins are going to be rare and IF people work out that quite a lot of the time most of the show turns out to be a waste it might have issues.

  7. JC

    I want to like Beat The Pack, but a number of things about episode 1 really irritated me.

    1) How is the crucial “strongest player” prize determined? It’s not clear and I don’t think I like it. Because the “strongest player” gets to be Control, this determination is really, really important.

    I hope the primary criterion isn’t “largest number of correct answers” – this would be massively flawed, because that would place an enormous amount of weight on the current category, as happened in episode 1.

    Another reason I think the “strongest player” determination is an issue is that there is a massive disincentive for playing well (namely that Control will knock you out at first opportunity). On the other hand, the incentives for playing well aren’t brilliant. These incentives are: a) knocking out Control, b) being safe on the next question, and c) being first in line to be the new Control. Essentially, a) is no use without c) (or if your teammates are idiots). b) is ok, but not great, since you can still be eliminated on that question as we saw in episode 1. Therefore you really need to tighten up c).

    I would much prefer it if “safe” members of the pack got to continue answering questions for the purpose of determining the strongest player. Alternatively, ask a question on the buzzer.

    2) Red and green lights to indicate whether or not pack members got things correct. I have red-green colourblindness so I can’t tell what’s going on. This ruined the tension for me here, even more so than it did in Perfection. It’s really not that hard to pick better colours/lighter and darker shades, and would improve things for a not insignificant portion of the audience.

    3) Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but the endgame is terrible. Ask a fixed number of questions and remove the time limit.

    Alternatively, set the champion a target to reach in the time limit, and if they get the question wrong, pass the question over to the team to push back the Chaser… er, wait, hang on…

    4) Jake’s conversation was a little stilted but I’m sure he’ll warm up as the series goes on.

    5) Pacing. This could really be improved, but I’m not sure how to do it – obviously, there is a difficulty in that the crew don’t know how many questions we’ll get through.

    We are treated to long shots of people walking around, and endless discussions of which category to pick. Less of this would be good. (couldn’t you have used the time to tell us how you worked out the strongest player?!)

    Other than the colourblindness issues, the set/music/graphics were alright. I might tune in again, but I doubt this show will keep my attetion. We’ll see.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The strongest player is determined by proportion of correct answers (i.e. someone who scores 2/2 is better than someone who scores 2/3). Ties broken by speed of response.

  8. Brekkie

    Not seen the show but picking up on a couple of comments and my general feeling on some other shows do we think in general now gameshows are being hampered by being forced into a longer slot. All BBC formats seem to be 45 minutes, while 60 minutes is the standard on ITV (so about the same run time).

    Traditionally game shows have been 30 minute formats and were successful as such for most of the last 50 years. It feels like now many shows are being compromised by having to run in a longer slot.

    1. GIzensha

      I think that formats not designed for 45 minute slots are hampered by being in 45 minute slots, but this works both ways – One of the main reasons the UK Fort Boyard was weaker than the French Fort Boyard, even when watching in a foreign language, is that Fort Boyard needs a longer slot (90 minutes seems to work for it, though I think Brig mentioned that it’s relatively recently shrunk down from 2 hours before)

      Can some game shows work in 45 minute slots? Sure. A BBC 45 minute slot is basically the same amount of game time as an ITV hour slot, and we’ve seen game shows work in those before. Can some quiz shows work in a 45 minute slot? I don’t see why not, Millionair seems to work in any time slot they fancy scheduling it, but Millionair has the advantage of rolling game play. (Which would really help this show’s pacing)

  9. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    Well, I’ve finally had a chance to watch a full episode of Beat The Pack, seeing as I’ve been at college for the past 2 days and I quite enjoyed it. I liked the variety of categories on offer, not falling into the usual game show tropes of things like Entertainment, Sport, Pop Music, etc.

    It did take a bit for the rules of the show to sink in, like how a player in control is eliminated, what happens when the pack answers correctly, things like that.

    A couple of sticking points with me, like the uses of the Double Answer. I saw that a player used one, was eliminated, then the next person from the pack to come on also got to use it. Naturally, if you come in control towards the tail end of the main game (categories 5 and 6), you’re going to use the Double Answer on the last catgory to improve your chances of getting into the final round. Also, the endgame just felt like a watered-down version of The Final Chase (one player answers quick-fire questions, the other gets to answer if you get one wrong), only not played for steps.

    1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

      Oh, yeah, almost forgot. Another sticking point is the reveals of which Pack members were right or wrong. Why couldn’t they just light the lights on the desk instead of having that stupid 5-second or so wait? It’s so unnecessary

        1. GIzensha

          So it’ll be cut down depending on amount of questions asked, then? Let’s hope no-one ever wins the £12k…

      1. David B

        It’s also done the least exciting way. They should light the green lights FIRST…


        …and then it gets tense as the greens light up. Then you’re hooked to see if they’ll all go green or whether the rest suddenly turn red.

        I’m a bit disappointed no-one spotted this trick. And the end game flaw is terrible, I agree. C’mon BBC, do better.

        1. Paul B

          I’m not going to publicly opine on the format, and how it’s changed from what I wrote up originally, mainly since I don’t want to upset any former colleagues, but the reveal you’re describing was, in essence, the visual centrepiece of the format for quite a while during development. And the endgame didn’t exist when I left the Beeb.

          1. David B

            In that case, I’m wondering why on earth caused them to drop that reveal. The only thing I can imagine is that it wasn’t that exciting if only 1 or 2 people kept getting the harder questions right, which seems to be the case.

            But how 5 seconds of time-wasting, random lights improves this situation is hard to tell. It’s not like the viewers are thinking “I bet Michelle’s going to the Dance Off” or anything, it’s just pointless time wasting.

            TV directors: bloody get on with the game! Please!

  10. Mart with a Y not an I

    We almost watched todays show in real time as well. Jakes introduction was done at 6pm (according to his very large watch) and the main game was coming to a conclusion at 6.50.
    I love spotting things like that.

    Also, a minor point on the set design – but exactly, what is the point of those steps each side and approx halfway up the walkway between Jakes poduim and the big screen?

    They appear to have no purpose – unless it’s to access the empty space between the walkway and the pack desk and provide a muster area for the audience in the case of a fire drill.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Blimey, they must have been really knocking them out by that stage, it took about 2.5 hrs when I went.

  11. Chris M. Dickson

    Watched yesterday’s episode on demand: not objectionable, but I’m not a fan, and this has a fair bit of technical demerit. One point I haven’t seen raised so far is that the lighting on the Pack is terrible, to the point where I only assume it’s stylistic and deliberate; the Pack members all glow white at the borders of their hair and the reflections off the name badges mean that they often cannot be read.

    Also, the feel of the show is slow; it’s tempting to consider this to be a half-hour show in a 45-minute slot, but in truth this is a show where the games can vary so much in length that it would probably be beter-paced to run the show quickly and accept that some shows may have parts of more than one game. If that’s something that cannot be accepted in today’s repeat-focused broadcast environment, *grumble*.

    The show seems to focus on the Control player knowing the answers to questions and yet not being confident enough in their knowledge to gamble their survival on it. That’s just not very fun as mechanics go, and the format is set up to let people roll on and on, in a way that is not the case for (e.g.) WWTBAM? where the emphasis is on success rather than failure.

    Jake does not convince as a host; no particular flaws in what he does, but he may just not have the authority to clearly lead the show – he’s just young enough and “deer in the headlights” enough not to be obviously assertive. I am reminded of Richard Bacon, not least in appearance, but even he has the sentence intonation (even if not in accent) to convey just enough authority to get away with it in a slightly out-of-control show.

    I like the look of the graphics and animation but the show stops and makes us watch them, rather than just letting it happen in the background and getting on with the game. Can we also declare the “money going into the accumulating bank” effect to be done by now? If it must be used then at least use enough frames of animation that you can’t see every single intermediate value clearly.

    Being more positive, I like the direction; lots of gently mobile shots that work well in context without *quite* leaving the audience reeling.

    1. Mart with a Y not an I

      I did mention the appaling lighting, Chris.
      I said in my original ‘brain dump’ of the first episode, that the harsh ice white/blue lighting levels on the pack desk were uneven, which didn’t make it pleasant to look at.

      Given that Paul has said that the final round didn’t exist when he handed in his BBC door entry swipecard, that merely backs up my thoughts on the final round being the weakest part of the show. It’s just a very dull and derivative device to wrap up the programme.

      A better format would be to have 90 seconds of questions (why 75?) and like now Control has to keep answering the questions correctly.
      A wrong answer, and the last of the pack standing gets the chance to answer it. If (s)he does, instead of the 3 strikes traffic light system, £250 is removed out of control’s prize fund, and goes to the pack member.
      This carries on until either the 90 seconds are up – or the pack member has drained the control bank to £0 – which in some shows – like today’s – could be as soon as 1 question.

      1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

        I also don’t like the fact that when a control player is out of the game, everything they earned up to that point is wiped out with them. Why not let the new control player answer a question to try and salvage the pot? Otherwise, it’ll be like Breakaway series 1 where there’s only a few hundred pounds up for grabs and people aren’t going to care what happens, like what happened in today’s episode.

        Also, I was sort of intrigued about what would have happened if the control player on the last category passed and the 2 pack members got it right. What would have happened then, seeing as there were no more categories to ask? Would they just elect a new control player and play on from where the previous player fell?

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          If Control falls at the final hurdle, the strongest Pack member becomes Control and the prize is to come back as Control the next episode.

    2. GIzensha

      The overall idea of the format is… Fine, though not particularly strong, for me, and that along with the graphics is all I can say about it.

      The set is just hideous, though. It’s like someone looked at the Knowitalls set, which was already verging on Too Much if not already over the line, but it seemed to know how tacky the set looked, and thought “Why not go further, but without any sense of irony?”

  12. Delano

    The first steal happened today: Seb nicked £ 250 from Charmaine.

  13. Delano

    Colleen just became the first contestant to survive The Pack, collecting £ 6,250 in process.

    She is also the first carry-over contestant to do so.

  14. Delano

    Whoever missed the latest episode: one member of the Draughtsmen (most recent Only Connect runners-up), Andy Tucker, was picked to play and thrashed the pack. He accumulated £ 10,000 and kept the cash, waltzing through the final round.


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