Weaver's Week 2001-02-06
6th February 2001
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
NBC has ordered thirteen episodes of (T)WL, apparently to air in prime- time. The host: Anne Robinson. She will go down a storm, I promise.
Durham, defending champions, scored 325 last time out. They take on Imperial College London, winners in 1997, with 255 in their opener. These are two sides I expected to produce fireworks through the knock-out stage, and it's a shame they've met so early.
Much of the game could have been the "Fingers On Buzzers" round, as Jeremy Paxman rarely gets to finish a question. Durham would win if there weren't answers to supply; as there are, Imperial gets a lot of room to pick up points, leading 130-55 at the half. It's a pretty one- sided affair, as a strong Imperial squad sees off the challengers 215-140.
Now with a stable repeat Tuesday at 7pm.
Hope you've caught the Producer's Diary on www.produxion.com - there's a lot of entertaining reading without ever giving anything away as to who is the mole. For those who didn't catch that article, I'll be dropping in some notes (not the full diary, that would be plagiarism) into these reports.
The show filmed in three weeks last year, starting around August 6. This bears out the 5am sunrise in last week's edition, consistent with Jersey in mid August.
Some people reckon that a clue on the website: "Don't be sunk by what you see: on the island, the knives were out for me!" says that someone slashed the boat. If that's right, discount Oliver as the mole. OTOH, it could be David, who gutted the fish... Or Sara, who cooked them... Or Oliver, who was seen using a knife to cut twine in making the shelter.
Personally, I'm discounting the website totally. Not least because it has an atrocious Flash front-end that serves no purpose other than to crash my browser. Can anyone give me a URL that evades this trap?
Week Five, and we're down to the Secretive Six:
Zi Khan, 32, loudmouth, Doncaster
Jennifer Waller, 37, quiet as a mouse, Darlington
Jo Corlett, 34, artist, Isle of Man
David Buxton, 35, professional black-sheep, London
Sara Lee, 24, manages to do everything, Droitwich
Oliver Norman, 22, all-round nice guy, Glasgow
Challenge 13: Split into two teams of three; there are three puzzles to solve in a route around some tunnels. 40 minutes to get both teams round the course; 5 minute penalty for each wrong answer. Think Crystal Maze with a lot of mental games. £5000 if they can get it right.
David, Zi and Sara go first. Question 1 is counting triangles in a larger triangle. Easy. Question 2 is about a boat that floats in the water. A wrong guess costs five minutes, but it's right second time out. Question 3 has three light switches, and three lights in the basement. How to tell which switch operates which light with just one trip down? Good work by David to explain the answer. (Your hint: lights don't just give off light.) 14'54" of travelling, plus 5' penalties.
Ollie, Jennifer, Jo go next. Question 1 is a mess, guessing 29 and 30 before the correct answer of 31. Was Ollie primed to give wrong answers. Question 2 sees the team fall into the same trap as their predecessors. Question 3 sees Jo disappear down to the basement, looking for the actual lightbulbs! She comes back, eventually. Glen calls it a day on the first incorrect answer. They've had 45 minutes already, and the challenge is well and truly lost.
Family and friends await in the main hall, but there will be a game of Blackjack first. Winner of each hand gets chips, to be cashed against a correct answer in the end-of-day quiz. David gets an ace-king, and 5 questions right. Oliver takes 4, Jo 3, Jennifer 2, Zi 1. Sara's left with nothing.
Challenge 14, for £5000: Twelve people are the stage, six are invited guests, six are not. The five who won the pontoon hands have to spot their guest, and those of the other players. The team has to get 21 correct guests in 30 guesses to win £5000. They're told the gender, and the person they're here to see. The total: 13/30, so the money is lost. The rest of the day is with the guesses. Guests, sorry.
After this Challenge, host Glen Hugget spoke to the producer, and correctly identified the mole. Three days later, Glen changed his nomination. Like the mole, Glen is going all the way to the finale.
Challenge 15, and it's another goodie: Sara is extracted from the group, chained up, and held hostage in an army vehicle. The other five have to negotiate a course, under fire from snipers, rescue Sara, and bring her back, alive and accompanied. There are guns to defend themselves with Sara. £10,000 at stake. We're talking the paintball challenge again.
There's a twist, revealed to Sara. If she can arrive at the finish line alone and unaccompanied, she wins a free pass to the finish. Before the episode, they were discussing, and Sara said she would work with the team. Others would take the pass, she said.
It's all edited down to good action stuff. Zi makes a break to unchain Sara. Jennifer is panicking a lot. The others are pinned down in some bushes. Ollie survives to join Zi and Sara, Jennifer and David are out. Zi shouts assistance at Jo, who has two wounds - three will lead to her elimination.
Moving back. Zi heads off alone, not really making a good job of it. There's lots of tension between Jo and Ollie. What will Sara do? Jo's got herself cut off and dead. Zi's ahead of Ollie and Sara. Ollie gets killed, Zi has to come back. The two drop their guns and run for it.
They make it to the tent. Then Sara shoots Zi. He storms out. Sara explains to David. The bleep machine goes into overdrive. Jennifer is incredulous. Oliver drop-jawed. Sara's (weak) defence is that everyone else would do the same thing. Zi is beyond words. Jo can stop pretending she likes Sara.
Light the blue touchpaper and come back on the Springer show.
Later... Sara regrets causing the reaction, everyone else is amazed. Except for Jennifer, she's depressed. Ollie and Zi point out that this is the point where they stop working as a team and start working solo.
Points of order. 1) Ollie shouting instructions after he'd called he was out. Surely that would have disqualified the team...
2) The paint mark on Zi's vest that Glen shows to the camera is on his left upper chest. Yet Sara clearly shot Zi from *behind*, which would give a mark on the left side of his back. Zi was leaning on the ground, making the right side inaccessible - that becomes the left if the jacket is reversed. It looks to me that Zi got hit by shrapnel from other fire, not Sara's bullet.
The elimination is unusual; the chips buy off questions.
Zi - Clearly not Sara [Oliver]
Jennifer - Zi [Zi, Zi, Zi]
Jo - Anyone but David
Oliver - Zi [Zi, Zi]
David - (nothing) [Zi, Zi]
Sara - exempt [Zi, Oliver, Zi, David]
A great couple of days for the mole, £70,000 at the start has turned into £70,000 at the end. It's goodbye to Jo. Zi exhales audibly; David says something to Sara, Oliver and Jennifer also converse.
MOLE HUNT NOTES
13: David played a blinder, and if his team had the confidence to give his answer first, they would have run without penalties. Oliver, Jennifer and Jo didn't have their brains in gear, quite frankly. This is easily rigged to the mole, by passing incorrect answers. Think Oliver, think perhaps Zi and Sara who were almost invisible in their team.
14: No-one thought to discuss their guests with the other contestants. Given that they've been apart for two weeks, this would surely be a topic of conversation. D'oh!
15: As a method of breaking the team apart, this was a great game. As television, this was a great game. As a method of finding out who the mole is, it's not actually all that good. Ollie had experience of paintball, but was carrying too much baggage to make it through. Jennifer and David fell too early to make judgements. Zi's tactics were risky, splitting off from the rest of the group at the end, but paid off. And anyone would claim passage at this stage. Note Ollie's shouting after coming out of the game.
Dare I say it, but there wasn't a huge amount of useful information in the mole hunt this week. The intelligence puzzles were the key game, and that didn't tell us anything we didn't know - David is clever; Ollie and Jennifer may have fed an incorrect answer.
I have had suspicions about Sara from the start, and nothing she's done this week has helped to alleviate them. But, reviewing the evidence, I'm beginning to turn towards Oliver as the mole. He's featured a lot, and never takes much of a lead in anything.