I don’t always find it very easy to write an objective review of a show such as “Don’t Blow the Inheritance”. After all, as you know my preferences in a quiz show veer towards such gems as Only Connect, University Challenge, Mastermind, to name three. If a new quiz show is not of this ilk, then chances are that I’m not going to like it as much. This will obviously colour what I want to say about it. Yet, to use an analogy, would it be fair to decry the work of , for the sake of argument, Barbara Cartland, because it is not sufficiently like that of William Shakespeare ? While there are any number of things you might be tempted to say against the former, probably with good reason, the fact is that the context between the two is so different that comparisons between them become relatively meaningless. The question is not – how closely does the work of Barbara Cartland approach Shakespeare, but , how good an example of the genre within which she worked are her books. The intrinsic value of the genre within which she worked is a different question.
All of which I suppose is a long winded way of trying to say that I watched “Don’t Blow The Inheritance” for the first time today, and tried very hard to judge it for what it actually is, a tea time game show, rather than judging it against my hypothetical ideal of a quiz. If you haven’t seen it, basically Tim Vine presents a show whose contestants are four 2 person teams, consisting of grown up child and even more grown up parent, or grown up niece/nephew and even more grown up aunt/uncle. Until the final, the nippers have to decide whether their elder will know the answer to a question. If they think they will, then they can buzz in as soon as they please. Correct answers win £1000, and incorrect answers give everybody else £1000. At the end of each round the couple with the least amount of cash are out.
There’s a little variation between rounds – in round one it’s straightforward questions. I enjoyed round two most. There are 4 categories on the board, and the nippers pick out a category for each partner. So , when young Haydn chose ‘websites’ his mum Louise was asked for a list of the 10 countries who have the most users of Facebook. You can just keep shouting them out, there’s no penalty for wrong answers, and time is limited. Another category in yesterday’s show was the last ten winners of I’m A Celebrity. I liked this round , The semi final round gave up to three clues to a famous person – eg. – I married Kate Capshaw in 1981. ( Stephen Spielberg ). First to buzz in gets the chance to answer – right you get £1000, wrong they get £1000. As for the last round, well, in this round it’s down to the nipper alone. The younger member of the team has to answer 5 questions correctly. When they give their first wrong answer the money they have won throughout the show drops away at the speed of about £200 a second. Once they have answered 5 correctly, whatever is left is theirs. Once the money has completely gone, then that’s it. The game is over.
That’s the mechanics of the show. It’s pretty simple, and none the worse for that. On the positive side I liked the list round in round 2, which has good play at home value. The endgame as well is rather more tense than I expected – wondering whether all £17000 would disappear before the poor girl would get the 5 answers she needed. ( It did. ) Rounds one and three were ok as well, albeit nothing that special. So there’s nothing in the basic machinery of the show that prevents it from being a watchable example of the genre. I don’t know that they’re milking the gimmick – the generation gap within each team – all that confidently. For most of the show these people don’t really even need to be related. They might just as well have brought along their slightly brainier friend. Having said that there was just a hint of what might be at the end of round two where the Dad complained to his daughter for picking the category Will Smith films, when he felt sure he would have done better with Madonna. Still, I’ve only seen the one show.
This is not to say that she show is without its problems. It’s desperately slow in places, even for this particular genre. This stems in part I think from the fact that it has something of an identity crisis. It is a weekday, teatime, mid prize range show. However it seems to think that it is a prime time Saturday Night gameshow extravaganza. From the late 1970s. Maybe this is Tim Vine’s fault. I can’t quite make up my mind whether his desperate flogging of the dead carcases of the show’s catchphrases is meant to be ironic, or whether he really does believe that yelling such doggerel as - we lose a team – it’s the end of a dream – adds something to the show. Let’s be honest, even doddery ( yes, Brucie , doddery you are ) old Brucie doesn’t really get away with this sort of thing any more. I’m not necessarily knocking Tim Vine , either. I think that given the choice, I’d rather have him than brother Jeremy, but it might be worth his while watching Bradley Walsh on the Chase as a good example of how a comedian can present a game show, still get a few laughs, but not get in the way of the show. While I’m on the subject as well, I know that a certain amount of ‘let’s meet the teams’ is still expected in shows of this genre, but this tends to take it to extremes. The consequence is that it’s an easy show to watch On Demand, with the remote in your hand, and your finger poised above the fast forward button.
So to my overall verdict. I’m not a huge lover of the quiz game show genre, and I’m not a huge lover of this show. That doesn’t matter really, because I wasn’t expecting to like it very much. What did surprise me was that I felt that there were a couple of quite strong games within the show, though. Comparing it to a few of the recent ITV tea time quiz games, this wasn’t mean spirited like Divided, which I hated. It isn’t unnecessarily fussy through trying to do too much in the time available, like the Fuse, which I quite liked. It isn’t built all around a boring and rather pointless game, like Tipping Point, which I felt was dreary. It doesn’t have anything like as much for the quizzer as The Chase, though. Nonetheless, the show has a chance. What I will say, though, is that it’s a show which has at most 25 minutes’ worth of questions, and a good 20 minutes of padding, and this is not a very good ratio at all. Will it come back after this series ? The coin is in the air as far as I’m concerned.