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The Cram

This is a really annoying show to have an opinion on.

You see, from a game point of view there's not really an awful lot wrong with it. Four people learn 24 hours worth of news in 24 hours. Each person gets 20 questions worth a point each, and there's a final buzzer round (two points for a correct answer, one point off for an incorrect answer). Whoever wins wins a grand and gets to play all over again.

So far, a show that works although in an fairly uninspiring way. Right. If you like quizzes, there are about 100 questions fired out within the half hour without really breaking into a sweat.

What really puts me off this show is its presentation.

These people have been studying for 24 hours in a "study room" (although it's quite clear they're allowed out when they want and they get somewhere to sleep). The hosts seem to describe the show almost as if it's a kind of experiment ("they say that sleep, exercise and water help you retain information, let's see how they got on!", reffering to each day as "day X" at the top of the show like it's some sort of televisual event). It's a little bit reality show.

Except it's not really, because it's actually a news bulletin. The titles are newsy and have images of the days events. Bannister and Husein speak in "news monotone" throughout the show. Bannister in particular throws in as many news references as he can ("still to come: three more tough tests!" "the main stories tonight... (recaps scores)"). They've called the last round The And Finally... Round.

This is really irritating.

Except it's not really the news, because it's a quiz. And they've set it in an MI5-esque studio, with dramatic newsy music.

Now we like imagination and we've seen what they've done here. They're turning the news into a quiz. But it all feels so incredibly incongruous and jarring whenever a piece of news speak is used that we wished we could just actually watch the news instead. The biggest problem is that it can't match up with the illusions of grandeur it has of itself.

Relatedly, the US's Game Show Network had for a time a show called Cram, where two couples were locked away in a study cell and had 24 hours without sleep to learn all the stuff in the books and magazines they had been given. They'd then have to play games in the studio which usually involved doing two things at once. It was ace. The Cram, however, is just quite annoying.

Hosts: Matthew Bannister, Mishal Husein