Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Know What, Ask Me Later

“Puzzlemaster Will Shortz and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! host Peter Sagal walk into a bar... No, it's not the start of a joke. It's the essence of Ask Me Another” – From the “About The Show” page on Ask Me Another’s official website.

Honestly, I can’t put it a whole lot better than that.

Ophira Eisenberg is joined by puzzle writers Art Chung and Noah Tarnow and house musician Jonathan Coulton for a banter-heavy public radio puzzle show. The premiere featured four games, each played by two new contestants, with the winner of each game advancing to the final round. The games aren’t too far removed from what the aforementioned Will Shortz would use for his Sunday Puzzle on Weekend Edition – things like “guess the TV show from a list of its episode titles” or “guess the breakfast cereal from a haiku about it”. Jonathan plays a song or two over the course of the show, and a celebrity guest is brought in for a round almost identical to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s Not My Job, except rather than asking questions about a topic the celebrity supposedly knows nothing about, they ask questions about a topic the celebrity supposedly knows everything about. In the premiere, John Hodgman was asked about doomsday predictions. He apparently knows a lot about those.

At the end of the show, the winners of the different games play one final round, after which the day’s winner gets the sort of “fabulous grand prize” you’d expect of NPR – in the premiere, the winner got a Skype call with John Hodgman so the guy who plays the PC in the Apple commercials can settle a dispute for you.

Of course there isn’t really anything wrong with this – the biggest complaint I can make is that Ophira came across as pretty annoying the first time I heard the premiere (I listened to the same episode again a few days later and actually liked her a lot more that time). I was anticipating this one for a long time, however, and somehow I’m disappointed. Maybe I just need to stop writing about radio for a while – but I’m still desperately trying to figure out when the Australian TV version of The Unbelievable Truth premieres. I feel really, really silly typing that.

Speaking of Australia – I watched the premiere of the new Australian version of The Price Is Right. I’m not reviewing it, but I will report that yes, there was a nice little tribute to Ian Turpie.

Speaking of The Price Is Right – I’ll have my obituary of Bob Stewart next week.


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