Blokken (2004, TV1, Belgium)

Thanks to one of the Bother’s Bar regulars for this. The idea of Tetris: The Gameshow is one that’s often come up as an idea between developers that gets laughed off quite quickly for a long time.

Now, thanks to TV1 in Belgium, Tetris: The Gameshow is a reality. Let us introduce you now to our first feature in our semi-regular look at international gameshows… Blokken.

And here it is, look. The music is electronic, and none of it bears any relation to any Tetris tune we’ve known and loved.

Here is our host. He doesn’t seem to get credited anywhere (I think it’s fairly safe to assume that this is a daily show which gets a minimal credit run, a la 15-1). We don’t know any Belgian which makes doing research on the website rather difficult. We think his name is Ben Crabbe. He’s actually tremendous and very charismatic.

The contestants. We think the older looking one on the left is a returning champion. You’ll notice that there are computers in front of them. These are not only what they use to play Tetris with but also double up as buzzers.

The host at his desk. The background animates, a bit like the old red set for University Challenge.

The host seems to go into short monologues between some questions which tend to end with audience groans. Whiteleyism isn’t limited to Britain after all. Hurrah!

Round one in progress. Questions are buzzed for and are worth 10 points each. Getting a correct answer also entitles you to play two blocks. Completing a line, as Ms Green has done here, is worth an extra 50 points. Just like Tetris, the line then disappears.

The block that will be the first to fall appears at the top of the screen whilst the question is read out. When someone buzzes, the next block shows up on their side in their colour. Ms Green is clearly doing very well at the moment.

If you look very carefully you can see four lines beneath the gameboard. These flicker very briefly when a contestant moves a blovk left or right or turns a block clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Round two. Each person gets their own board and a stock of 15 bricks. They are asked five questions. Before each question they are asked how many of those 15 bricks they’d like to play with (we suspect there’s a house limit of four or five). If they get the question right, it’s ten points, and they get to play with the bricks in the hope of making 50 point lines. Wrong answers mean those bricks have been lost.

The third and final round and it gets slightly baffling. Players hear a category and then they buzz in for the question. If they get it right they get a whopping 50 points and two bricks. There appears to be no discernable penalty for getting it wrong, other than your opponent getting a crack. Lines are still worth 50, and look! Not only has Ms Yellow overtaken green with her question answering skills, she’s about to score a doubler for another 100! She wins this as it turns out.

We must confess to not knowing what’s going on here. It looks like some kind of viewer competition although some bloke in the audience shouts the answer out (so perhaps it’s just revealing the result).

Our plucky (i.e. swizzed really) loser doesn’t go away empty handed. She seems to win some puzzle magazines from Denksport!

Our winner gets to play the grand final which winning three times seems to earn an exciting computer.She gets to walk to the host’s desk for this. Here she answers questions against a two minute clock. Each right answer allows her to place a block. When the block hits the ground one of the tiles turns into a letter which comes up along the bottom. I don’t know if it’s a definitely a letter per block or whether she has to cover certain spaces to reveal letters.

Completing a line as she has done here earns an additional 250 euro to the 1,000 she’s given at the start. Can you guess the word from the clue given?

It was, of course, “opstaan”. But you had already worked that out anyway.

The expression on this woman’s face would suggest she didn’t.

Our host ends the show.

And let’s go join the runner up.

Sadly for all it’s good intentions it’s a bit slow and reducing Tetris to two-blocks-at-a-time is really incredibly annoying by the end. Still, great host and nice set though.

This article was originally written in 2004. The following comments were left in the comment box:

Brian Moore:
It’s a pretty unique concept of putting a popular video game of Tetris into a game show. Why didn’t anyone else in the world think of it before.

I’m from Belgium and might make some things more clear.
Even though it’s a foreign language for the writer of this article, I’m surprised about how well he understands the rules! However in round 3 there is in fact a penalty if you get the question wrong. It costs 50 points and the other contestant can then try for free.
Then the part where you don’t know what’s going was indeed a viewer competition. And it does indeed sometime happen they jokingly say the answer already. You need to answer every question each day of the week and then hold back the first letter of the anwer, soyou get 5 letters, which form a word.

And then in the final round it’s not a definitely letter per block. She has to cover certain spaces to reveal the letters. (the spaces are pre-determined by the computer, but you don’t know which spaces they are)

In case you’re interested, the clue of the finale is ‘every morning’ and the answer (which always is a 7 letter word) is ‘to rise’.

The show is already in it’s tenth season over here. Always with the same host, who makes the silliest, most stupid jokes, which are so lame it actually gets funny. But to me it’s one of those shows you only watch when nothing else is on tv.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this! Very funny!

Brig Bother:
That’s brilliant! Thanks so much for clarification.

Remember Ben Crabbe when he was playing percussion for the Belgian modern rock band De Krenners? He is also the co-moderator of Een’s summer political talk/debate show Bracke & Crabbe and was one of the members of Ben Crabbe & The Floorshow.

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