Weaver's Week 2001-05-29
29th May 2001
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
Readers are warned that there are spoilers contained here.
TOP TRUCK TOUCHER STANDS DOWN
Remember Channel 5's TOUCH THE TRUCK? (Review: Mar 13) It's only the return of Big Brother that's reminded me, honest. Anyway, you may recall winner Jerry Middleton said that he would sell the 4x4 he won at Thurrock in March, and stand at the forthcoming General Election.
Nominations for that election closed last week, so I asked Aristotle, the Guardian's friendly candidate monitor, for further details about Middleton. "He won Touch The Truck," replied the sagacious one. "Yes, I knew that, but where is he standing?" "He's not."
This means the only connection between the election and game shows will be that Channel 5's coverage will be hosted by Mr GREED himself, Jerry Springer.
SURVIVOR: EPISODE 2
Sarah Odell is still calling herself a model... curious. Uzma isn't drinking enough.
No-one has found the luxury resort on the north side of the island, the one that's putting up the crew and providing the water. At least, we don't *think* they've found it.
The reward challenge: eat a slug-like creature, known as a butak. It tastes like mature cheese, apparently. I never knew they were bringing BBC Catering in to provide the food... At the end of the day, everyone has eaten one worm. To break the deadlock, one member of each team - chosen by the opposition - has to eat two slugettes. It's Uzma for the yellows, Jackie for the blues. It's quick, it's brutal, it's Jackie. The reward: dessert. Strawberries and cream.
Back at the beach, the yellows' hut has fallen victim to flooding. Lots of sand everywhere. Lots of things washed away. Darn and double darn. JJ gets annoyed over a snagged net. She's being built up to go.
On the beach, the yellows are eating rat and rice. They *have* brought in the BBC Canteen. The blues open their fruit tins, and manage to throw away the pineapple juice they were saving.
To the immunity challenge. One member of each team is hidden somewhere in the jungle. Object: bring them back on a stretcher. Which they have to make themselves. Only four to carry the stretchers. Yellows take a slight advantage to the captives, but the blues are first away. Yellows overtake on the way back, but everyone falls over on the beach. Can we suggest that there might be a bit of plotting here? Blues somehow claim the victory, and keep it.
The sequence is crying out for a Richard O'Brien style mocking commentary. Heavy weather of a simple job.
Again, JJ is built up as a ranting woman, who swears like a trouper. Or Zi from THE MOLE. The yellows are split between her and Uzma, who has been physically weak from the start. Who is not playing as part of a team? Who is failing to pull their weight? It's time to vote off...
Well, it's a tie. Uzma and JJ have tied - we presume at 4-4, though we're not told. The other six huddle to make a decision, then re-vote. JJ is voted out, 4-2. She's clearly cut up, and lashes out at the others.
Friday's fluff-watch saw news that Charlotte and Adrian of the yellow team had a fling while they were on location. Neither reckons it was a clever thing to do. Also that Andy would donate his winnings to clearing the name of Richard Cook. Cook was co-pilot of a Chinook helicopter that came down in Scotland in 1994; official enquiries blaming pilot error are widely regarded to be a cover-up for faulty software in the helicopter. Andy and Cook served together in the Falklands, and Andy was best man at his comrade's wedding.
Friday also saw the latest viewing figures released. They make depressing reading for ITV, dropping from a poor 6.6m on Monday to 5.2m on Thursday. The audience share, 28%, is 10% below ITV's prime- time average since Sept ember. And, most humiliatingly of all, Survivor's opening half was beaten by the show on BBC1, which pulled in 6m (34%). Survivor, you have been beaten by THE WEAKEST LINK.
In the immortal words of Richard O'Brien: who are these people?
Amma, 22, a table dancer and self-styled "tart with a heart." London.
Brian, 22, cabin crew supervisor, sounds *so* like Graham Norton it's uncanny. Hertfordshire via Ireland.
Bubble, 24, real name Paul, warehouse operative, daughter, hat obsession, immature. Surrey.
Dean, 37, runs internet company, lives with his fiancée, the next Nasty Nick. West Midlands.
Elizabeth, 26, web designer with degree in politics. Edinburgh.
Helen, 22, hairdresser stylist, wannabe it-girl. Gwent.
Narinder, 28, married medical rep, worked in Bollywood, token visible minority. Leicester.
Paul, 24, computer designer, ladies' man. Reading.
Penny, 33, English teacher, enjoys swimming, theatre, cinema, the early house captain. London.
Stuart, 36, director of US communications company, married, three kids, cheesy suit. Oxford.
The BB website - www.channel4.com/bigbrother/ - makes Amma favourite; bookies favour Dean.
The decor is intended to encourage "coupling", according to C4 press releases. There's an indoor bubble bath, outside sauna, a double bed, and a cosy log fire. Anyone would think this was Loft Story [May 19] with all the umming that might go on.
First chuck-out is June 8, voting begins three days earlier.
However, there's a sting in the tail. In the sauna was a stuffed dummy. This will turn into a real person after the first person leaves the house, maintaining the total at 10 people for an extra week.
Viewers are invited to choose between Josh, 32, a gym freak and body beautiful; Anne, 42, rediscovering her youth after marrying young and divorcing a few years ago; and Natasha, 26, looks like Samantha Mumba, acts like Ginger Spice. Call and vote your choice in; sadly, no politicians appear to have applied for entry to BB2, otherwise they'd be in like a shot.
The group's first task is to keep a wood fire burning for five days, until midday Thursday. Catch them up at www.channel4.com/bigbrother or via 10-minute delayed coverage on E4. (Interactive services coming by the end of the week, I'm told.)
Taking time out from Channel 4's whizz-bang graphic election coverage, Krish hosts this show. Rather than have FIFTEEN TO ONE fill the summer with repeats or a quiz for schools, C4 has commissioned its own new show. The pitch reminded me of a short-lived and best forgotten C5 vehicle, MOVE ON UP.
The opening sequence - fake neon lights, and quiet techno music - is nothing to write home about.
Ten contestants are on the buzzer for an opening round of questions. Get it right, fill from the top; get it wrong, fill from the bottom. Nine questions later, our team takes its positions at the podia. (We know our Latin plurals.)
There is then a series of questions, worth one, two or three positions. Get it right, move up that many positions; get it wrong, move down. Very occasionally, there's a question to go directly to the number one position; everyone between shuffles down. After 60 seconds, bring the game to a halt and ask a head-to-head between the two at the foot of the ladder.
If the person at the top gets a question right, they have the option of moving a rival right down to the end. This strikes me as a really unfair rule - it's nasty, surely it's fairer to have the opponent move down only that number of places.
After the break, there are 5 left. Change the format to a best-of-five eliminator between the bottom two contestants. Repeat four times to give the winner.
Then comes the endgame. Contestants step forward, with a money amount and a category. The #1 can take the question, or move the money up to the next contestant. Get it right, the money is yours; this applies to both #1 and challenger. This can give some huge payouts, potentially gambling £2500 on the last question.
The game is fast-moving, both in terms of questions and changes on the set. There's very quiet strings during the game, drowned out by Krish's voice, synthesised strings for the end of the round, an d the buzz of the buzzers. The colours of orange, blue, and purple remind me of early Channel 5 games.
Overall, there's one bit that strikes me as more than reasonably unfair, and a final round that appears to be more complex than is reasonable. I'm not over-keen on the change of game half way through the show, either. But, all in all, this is a funky little format. It won't go for huge exports, but it does make for an entertaining half hour.
Director: John F D Northover
Producer: Richard Hague
SURVIVOR EPISODE 3
We always see host Mark Austin wearing trousers. Not because his knees are knobbly - that's my excuse - but because he believes bare legs would make people take his journalism less seriously. Doesn't involvement in this show do exactly that?
The yellows are a team in despair; the blues have rigged up something of a shower. Looks like the yellows are in for a tough episode.
The reward challenge. Put on t-shirts with a letter on it. Make as many words from those letters in three minutes. Do it all on a log in the water. Let the countdown commence. Blues take an early lead, yellows draw level, blues go ahead to win 5-4. The reward isn't a Countdown teapot, but four tins of food and some equipment to dive for fish.
Usual over-baked reaction shots. We haven't had enough of those this week. The yellows are down as usual. The blues will be up, with tins of beans. Baked beans on rice. Yellows go for some motivational therapy, talking through their feelings.
The immunity challenge: recover a sunken treasure chest. It's not exactly high drama, the blues being far better at this than the yellows. Of five challenges, the blues have only lost one, and that on a technicality.
"Too much talking, not enough action" is the general view. Andy finds Simon's response interesting, suggesting Simon has Ambitions. The blues set up a crab-racing track, using strips of bamboo. 45 minutes later, we have a winner. Makes TOUCH THE TRUCK seem exciting.
Rats visit the blue camp overnight. Rat and bean pie, anyone?
The yellows expected to be able to get more provisions on the island, not just rats and fish. Someone really ought to tell them about the luxury villas on the north side. The blues spend the day luxuriating in the sheer tropicalness of it all. Anything for more sunny, hot shots.
Jayne of the yellows remarks that it's quiet. Charlotte, Adrian and Uzma have a bit of an alliance; Simon will jump between the two. Andy and James are more loosely allied with Jayne, on the grounds they're not with the three.
So to the voting booth, and it's wet. Whose torches had to be re-lit on entry? The voting: Jayne 2, James 1, Uzma 4. Uzma mentions how Adrian and Charlotte were keeping the whole camp awake with their nocturnal meanderings. "The team needed to gel, needed to have the right attitudes, and we don't have that."