Thursday, November 29, 2012

No News Review!

As there's absolutely no news, I thought I'd take a look at a random show that jumped out at me. It's a 1990s kids game show from Australia, and let me tell you, it's Amazing.

No seriously, that's the name of the show. 

I quote TV Tropes: "Amazing was easily the most popular Australian children's show of the 1990s, and holds a similar cultural significance in that country as Legends Of The Hidden Temple and Nickelodeon GUTS do in America." 

First reaction: This might the the only time anyone will ever describe Legends Of The Hidden Temple or GUTS as having any kind of "cultural significance." Second reaction: Amazing doesn't quite live up to that.

The format: it's a five-day-a-week show, and two Australian schools compete against each other for the whole week, with two new kids representing their school in each half-hour episode. The first two rounds are played in two parts. In the first part of the round, host James Sherry gives each team in turn the number of letters in the answer to a person, place, or thing they will have to identify in ninety seconds (think "It's a place, six letters..."). The clock starts, and James begins reading out clues. Once the team has gotten the answer right, they run over to a giant floor-sized keyboard (which appears to just barely work) and stomp on the letters that spell said answer. Once the correct answer has been typed, the team scores a point for every second left on the clock. The second part of the round then features one member of each team, who is given the time leftover from the first part of the round to run through this giant, obstacle-filled maze and grab plastic letters. After time runs out, each letter grabbed that was in the answer the team spelled out is worth ten points. The second round is the same, only the other member of each team runs the maze. 

The third round is the Computer Challenge, in which one member of each team plays a Super Nintendo game against each other; the team that collects the most bananas in Donkey Kong or wins the Mario Kart race or whatever scores fifty points, and the losing team scores twenty-five points. The team with the most points is then given another two minutes (one minute for each player) in the maze grabbing keys; each key is worth one hundred points, and one key is the Bonus Key which, if found, wins each team member a Game Boy. At the end of the week, the school that scored the most points over the five shows wins some computers and educational software.

If ever there was a show that could not exist outside the 90s, this is it. That's not knocking the 90s - I was a kid in the 90s, and would have adored this at the time. Watching it now, well, let's start with the good:

  • The maze itself. It's cool to the point that, like the Fun House or the house from Finders Keepers, I'm twenty-three years old, I didn't watch the show as a kid, and I so want to run through the damn thing. 
  • The rest of the set, which is quite large and impressive. 
  • James Sherry. Granted, he's not spectacular, but he manages for the most part to avoid the kids game show host stereotype. Going back to kids game shows I did grow up watching, he's far from Marc Summers or Mike O'Malley, but he certainly beats Kirk Fogg or Phil Moore. 
Now the bad:
  • The Computer Challenge. All of it. It has nothing to do with the rest of the show, it's always Nintendo and never any other system, its scoring is lopsided (why not just award twenty-five points to the winning team?)...
  • The music, in which the word "AMAZING!" is repeated a lot. 
  • The prize setup. Despite what a lot of kids shows seem to think, a computer is not a good grand prize - certainly not a computer for your school.
All in all, I like it. It doesn't live up to its title, but it's a lot of fun and I would have adored it as a kid. As I say every time I review a kids game show, I frequently have to remind myself that that's who kids TV is meant for.

I really hope there's some news next week.


Friday, November 23, 2012

I Know, I Know, I Know

I really need to get writing on this blog back into my routine.

Here's the big news in my life - I was in New York for a few days and went to a taping of NPR's Ask Me Another. It's not a show I'm the world's biggest fan of, but I wanted to see a game show and that was the one I could get tickets to.
I'm not going to go intro tremendous detail, but here's a few things that stand out:
  • The Bell House turned out to be a dingy bar\comedy club in a not particularly nice part of Brooklyn. When I got off the subway with the friend I was seeing this with, we were wondering if we were going to get mugged.
  • The show tries very, very hard not to stop to do retakes, but they had to at one point because the computer controlling the buzzers crashed. It took about fifteen minutes to reset everything, after which they threw out the question they had been reading.
  • Like a few other shows I've seen live - Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and Have I Got News For You come to mind - after the main action of the show is recorded they rerecord some sections that didn't come through right, with the audience expected to clap and laugh as if it were the first time. They also take an intermission after a couple rounds.
  • Special guest Cristin Milioti dropped the F-bomb on public radio. It will probably get edited out, of course, but it sure made the audience laugh.
  • All in all it was a lot of fun, and if you're willing to go to a dingy comedy club to see a public radio game show, by all means, do so.
I hope there's news next week. I doubt it, but I hope.


Friday, November 16, 2012

No News. At All.

Given that I'm a day late as well, it doesn't seem worth it to come up with anything this week.

I'll be back on Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Won't End Well

"I usually point to Million Dollar Password as the ultimate proof that Millionaire clones have taken over the genre...well, here's an even bigger example. In March 2009, it was announced that NBC was producing a pilot for an American version of the British topical panel game show Have I Got News For You. The article contained the following sentence: 'NBC declined comment on its plans for "News," but it seems likely the network will make some changes to the show’s format in order to make it fit with the big 'event' feel seen in most primetime reality shows.'

There's your thought for the day." - From my post on October 28, 2010.

Unfortunately, it appears that said pilot is not quite dead.

It just came out that another American pilot of Have I Got News For You is being taped - indeed, if this page is anything to go by, it is being taped TOMORROW (November 9) in New York. According to that same page, the host will be Sam Seder, the team captains will Michael Ian Black and Sherrod Small, and the whole thing is being done with TBS in mind. Sam and Michael filled the same roles on the NBC pilot in 2009, while Sherrod is "replacing" the late Greg Giraldo.

I'll admit at this point that I actually wish the 2009 pilot had reached television - not because I thought it would be good, but because I just wanted to see how big a disaster it would inevitably be. I may soon learn to be careful what I wish for.

One more piece of news - according to the show's Twitter feed, the third season of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge, with the show expanding to an hour and new host Andy Akinwolere replacing Geno Segers, will premiere on CITV in Britain on December 8. Whether it will reach TV in America, on Disney XD or any other channel, remains to be seen.

If you're wondering, the pilot I wish had reached television because I thought it would be good is the CBS pilot for The Cube from the same time period, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. This isn't because I'm a major fan of The Cube - I find it only decent. I just want to see Neil Patrick Harris host any game show.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

There Is Exactly One Piece Of News

Take It All (the show originally announced as White Elephant) will premiere on December 10 on NBC. The host, and likely the only good thing about the show: Howie Mandel.

That's it. That's all the news there is right now.

I'm not bothering to continue - right now, I have other things on my mind. Hopefully next week there will be some news.