The Easiest Challenge in the World

By | November 1, 2023

Incredible scenes in last night’s Joko & Klaas vs ProSieben finale on ProSieben last night.

It’s called ‘The Easiest Challenge In The World’, all they have to do hit a button within five minutes, ‘you’ll figure the rest of the rules yourself’. That’s it. There are some other gubbins around, but all other rules have been made up in our plucky duo’s heads. It’s five minutes of two people sitting around in blindfolds and headphones seeing if they can break their conditioning, to work out that something’s wrong. It manages to be both compelling and increasingly hilarious – there’s a bit where Joko peeks out his blindfold but looks the wrong way and the audience goes crazy. It’s like something from Derren Brown.

My only thing is they should have just ended the show and kept the cameras running and let us know the next week how long they continued to sit there.

Show Discussion: Survivor UK

By | October 27, 2023

Saturdays and Sundays after Strictly (8-ish),
BBC1 and iPlayer

21 years since we last did it, the BBC resurrects Survivor with Joel Dommett, 18 players will try and survive the elements AND EACH OTHER for 34 days to win £100,000… cash. a £900,000 reduction in prize from the original, but six days fewer so that’s alright then.

I mean we all know what Survivor is, I’ve written already that I think this ought to be perfectly decent but I think it’s been scheduled quite badly. We have yet to find out how much Joel Dommett will lean in to Jeff Probst-isms but I’m prepared to kick my telly in if he uses “zip”. A journalist will inevitably write something trite like “the viewers have spoken” when it starts clashing with I’m a Celeb in November. I’m expecting this series have basic, light twists like hidden idols but I don’t think you’ll be seeing Mario Party like you get in the US.

I have set up a #survivorchat channel in the Discord, but feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.

I fear for Survivor UK

By | October 24, 2023

To be clear, I don’t think it will be rubbish, I’ve always quite enjoyed it with the caveat that I can also get Survivored out – the versions you can stream on Prime and so on feel like they go on too long and there’s little variation in the challenges which all fall into precisely three flavours (wrestling, obstacle course with a thing at the end, hold a thing for as long as possible), the US one I probably haven’t watched properly since Russell Hantz was A Thing and the effort of sourcing wasn’t worth the payoff. I still have trouble with the idea that Joel Dommett has the gravitas to pull off “the tribe has spoken”, but there are decent people working on our show and at a fixed 60 minutes, I’ve got an open mind.

The scheduling for it is baffling though. On the face of it putting it on after Strictly on a Saturday and Sunday is an aggressive move – it’s the BBC’s biggest live audience of the week by a distance. My issue is Survivor feels like waaaay too heavy a show for a weekend berthing, and especially after 90/120 minutes of light entertainment dancing and with Blankety Blank afterwards – that’s a really weird sandwich, no flow at all. It can be argued that it would be “bringing the drama to replace Casualty“, but the problem with that is that nobody watches Casualty in 2023. You would hope that people will watch on iPlayer, but that’s going to need buzz but I absolutely can’t see it matching The Wheel (4m + 1m) on a Saturday, and last week’s Antiques Roadshow got 5m out of Strictly. I think Survivor will launch around 3-3.5m overnight, fine as it goes, but at what cost? And if it doesn’t hold that it’s going to be a long Autumn.

Of course there’s a second, more amusing, issue that Survivor faces in that three weeks into its run I’m A Celebrity starts on ITV, and with it being live and likely much bigger there is no way, not a chance, Ant and Dec don’t get digs in from link one. This will be amusing, especially as I’m A Celeb only exists because of Survivor‘s original failure in the UK. If Survivor starts off shakily, they’re going to want to sink it while they’ve got the chance. I’m a Celeb is not the guaranteed behemoth it might have once been, but with a decent selection of celebs it can certainly still open to 10m, or at least twice what Survivor will probably be getting.

Basically I think they’ve ballsed the scheduling up and they probably ought to have saved it for the New Year.

In other news some streaming trailers have dropped.

007: Road To A Million – travel to a place, do a stunt, answer a question, repeat until you fail or you’ve won a million quid. Looks fun. Launches on Prime Video November 10th.

Squid Game: The Challenge launches November 22nd on Netflix and airs across three weeks.

It’s the Countdown US Pilot

By | October 21, 2023

Wink Martindale’s Youtube channel posted this this morning, the 1990 US Countdown pilot, hosted by Michael Jackson (not that one).

Immediately I quite enjoyed the synth-rock-tastic interpretation of the theme tune as was de rigeur for US shows at the time, so it was quite surprising to hear our standard UK Countdown clock jingle for the rounds themselves. I don’t hate the amateur/celebrity nature of the game, although clearly you’d want the celebs to be of a roughly equal skill level and that’d be quite hard to balance. It is perhaps telling how much applause five letter words got. It felt like it took an age to get the nine letters out even though realistically it probably wasn’t that much extra time.

I don’t love the Countdown Scramble, or at least I don’t love the way it’s presented here. I did quite enjoy Jackson’s desk just flying off.

Of course it’s extremely easy to look at the lack of maths round and laugh, but let’s not forget Le Mot Le Plus Long existed as a format that ran for five years before Armond Jammot added the “le Compte est bon” (the sum is right) element so it’s not like it was unheard of.

The Golden Age of 7/10

By | October 18, 2023

Last week the BBC launched a quiz streaming channel on iPlayer and that’s you know, fine and great and all that, but it looks like it’s all quite modern last few years stuff.

So it’s annoying that yesterday they launched an international BBC Gameshow FAST Channel (can be found on the US on Freevee) and it sounds like a proper blast, quite a lot of little-seen-outside of original broadcast stuff from 2000-2010, the sort of time when they were throwing formats against the wall and seeing what sticks. Knowitalls with Gyles Brandreth! Get Staffed, which I had no recollection actually going out! Traitor with Tony Livesey, the show The Traitors could have been!

The idea that this is “the best of British gameshows” is frankly way off, but it represents a time when it was probably at its most creative, figuring out how to extract the entertainment of Millionaire without the money. Loads of 6/7 out of 10 stuff by the sounds of it but much of it interesting in its own way. Pity we can’t have it, really.

Raid the Cage US

By | October 15, 2023

Mmm, we’ve been quite down on this in the past despite everyone in TV being adamant it’d be massively successful over here, I just don’t think the format as is/was lends itself very well to being a weekly show (and if you’re going to have prizes worth playing for, a daily show is out of the question). I dislike the early stages which seem barely worth getting out of bed for. I don’t think the rewards for playing on are worth the stakes of having to risk everything you’ve won thus far, and most importantly who wants to see anyone crash out on a question they don’t get to see in advance? You want to see people lose because they’ve got greedy and overstretched themselves doing The Fun Thing. Two ways to lose and one way to win? That sort of thing can get in the bin.

So in what might be a formatting first, Americans have taken the format and improved it, and I don’t mean “improved” it as you’d normally expect, they’ve made some thoughtful changes here. Two teams of two playing for increasing amounts of time in the cage, and increasing values of prizes in the cage, whoever has escaped with the greater value of prizes gets to play the endgame with the best prizes, a tag-team 90 seconds where they’ve got to get at least $50k’s worth of goods out in order to take them home.

I like the new quiz element, it’s a bit like a mini-Wonderwall (Actually the Star Game from Turnabout might be a closer comparison) – eleven answers on a board, 10 clues, 45 seconds, you can’t return to a missed question, 3/5/7 seconds in the cage for each correct answer for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd round, it’s fun. Players get three seconds warning to escape like the original (failure to escape means banking nothing for the round), and each round adds skill-based challenges to unlock big prizes, as the original had. It has the essence of the format and largely eliminates the issues that I think people would tire of quickly.

Jeannie Mai is great as the host on the floor – energetic and natural. Damon Wayans Jr can certainly read an autocue. My main issue is that sonically it all washes over you, not especially memorable, not especially dopamine inducing. I think it’s OK!