Sunday, 13 January 2013

New TV Quiz Game - Face the Clock

Face the Clock – Channel Four – 3:30 weekdays

Congratulations go to the makers of “Face the Clock”, the first new quiz I’ve seen in 2013. I know why I’ve been missing this one. 3:30pm is just too early for me to catch. Still, never mind, that is what the internet is for. Now, I can either review this as a straight quiz show, or I can review it as a game show. Well, I’ll probably be bringing in elements of both. It's daytime, it's a half hour slot, so it's not going to be big money, and it's not likely to be that difficult. Come on then, Dave, review it according to what it is, rather than what it's not.

This show, which comes in at a lean and mean 23 minutes or so once you take the adverts out, is fronted by Rory Bremner. Now, here’s a tricky thing. I met Rory at the 2011 telecommunications industry GetConnected Charity Quiz, where he was the special guest question master. We had a chat and I thought he came across as a really nice chap, very chatty, very interested in you, and a good guy. So I’d find it difficult to be horrible about him. Thankfully I don’t have to. The format didn’t give him much opportunity to display his wit, and even less his impressions, but he seemed to get the tone just about dead right I thought.
The gameplay of the show is relatively simple. The show starts with 6 contestants. One of them randomly selects an amount of time, which might be anything up to 2 and a half minutes. The contestants then answer questions for cash, or nominate someone else to take the question. If you’re ‘it’ when the time runs out, then you’re out, and your cash passes to the one who passed you the question. 4 contestants are discarded this way. If you’re thinking – like the Pass the Bomb game on Buzz – then you’re dead right. Except you earn money for correct answers, so it’s worth hanging onto your go for a bit.

So there’s a huge slice of luck in this first part of the show. It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you get a killer pass 2 seconds before time runs out, then you’re out. It changes, though, in the round of two. Both of you get 60 seconds on the clock. The one with the lowest amount of money starts. Questions are asked, and the clock ticks down. When the contestant gets one right, then the clock stops, and the other contestant’s starts. Then when they get one right . . . well, I’m sure that I don’t have to labour the point for you. Now, on this game, it’s fairly simple – best quizzer wins.

Moving onto the final, whatever money the two last contestants have earned becomes the prize fund for the finalist. He or she will get one minute on the clock. They have to answer 5 questions correctly in the time. If they do it in 30 seconds or less, then they get the full amount. Then the money is halved, and it goes down for every ten seconds after that the contestant takes. So again, the people who are going to do best in the final are good quizzers.

Accepting that this is a game as much as it’s a quiz, it’s not a bad show at all. The FAQ (Faffing About Quotient) is fairly low – the duration of the show is so relatively short that they just have to get on with it. That’s a good point. Game play is simple and straightforward, and there aren’t really any unnecessary gimmicks. The game is not without tactics either. OK, the mechanics of the show mean that the best quizzer is not necessarily more likely to make it through to the last two than any other player. OK, the questions are, well, they’re Weakest Link easy, if you know what I mean. But then, it’s that kind of show, it’s not a search to find the best quizzer in the UK. It is what it is, and a relatively undemanding quiz game, which moves quickly, gives you quite a lot of questions for your money, and is certainly watchable is exactly what it is.


DanielFullard said...

I think you sum it up best when you say its a "game". Its certainly watchable if only for the game element of it

joe said...

"OK,the mechanics of the show mean that the best quizzer is not necessarily more likely to make it through to the last two than any other player".

You've hit the nail on the head, Dave. And that's why I won't be watching!

Matthew said...

Can anyone tell me whether they think 'Beat the Clock' bears any similarity to this concept that I sent out in 2012?

Just asking...

Matthew said...

Beg pardon: 'Face the Clock'

davidbod said...

Matthew, there are some similarities but not enough to warrant any legal action that might be successful. If Objective can show that they came up with the idea independently, you wouldn't have a case.

In order to get the programme on air in 2013, it's highly likely that this was in development as early as 2011. The lead times in TV production are very long.

Matthew said...

Thank you, David.

I can't suggest, even on here, that anything's been 'misappropriated'.

I also know I wouldn't have a prayer legally. I sent my idea out in July 2012, so perhaps 7 months isn't long enough or perhaps it is, I guess I'll never know.

It just struck me that if someone had received my idea and had wanted to change it just enough to get away with it, FtC is what they might have come up with.

Some you win...

Terry Wilton said...

This is an appalling show. Rory Bremner has zero charisma and no personality. He never says anything that is funny, interesting or clever.
The constants seem to be chosen for their lack of knowledge. It is ridiculous to watch question after question being answered with, "Pass" or "Don't know".
Why do people who know nothing, subject themselves to becoming a laughing stock?
The format is absurd. What difference would it make if they knew how much time was left? They are probably going to say "Pass" anyway.
The questions are going to have to become so easy that the programme will be more of a joke than it already is.

Londinius said...

Hello terry, and welcome to LAm

Well, come on, don't sit on the fence. Do you like the show or not ? In all seriousness everyone is perfectly entitled to their own opinion, but I think it's no worse an example of the kind of show than it is than many others. I honestly don't think that it's meant to be a show for quizzers at all, so gaps in people's knowledge really shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. It can be a mistake to try to judge people's intelligence based on what you see them do on the TV. Nerves and all kinds of things can affect your performance, and stop you answering things you'd rattle off at home.

The show is obviously not for you, and that's fair enough. But as I said, I don't mind it.

Ewan M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ewan M said...

I watched this for the first time yesterday. I don't mind shows like "The Weakest Link" where the questions are relatively easy and the contestants are mainly non quizzers. However the format of this show does seem to make it just as likely for the poorer players to reach the final stages as the stronger players. As a matter of principle I think the strongest players on any given show should always have the best chance of winning. On the basis of yesterday (Friday)'s show the quality of contestants seems to be very low. I concede that people might under-perform due to nerves or other factors but the questions here are very gentle indeed and it makes for poor television watching people who are manifestly out of their depth struggle to answer any questions at all.

In this particular show one contestant got 10 in a row wrong then passed to a stronger contestant just in time for the clock to run out. He then inherited the unfortunate contestant's £1300 and progressed to the final "head to head" where he answered one question correctly and his opponent managed to get precisely one right out of 9. Then in the final round against the clock he got 1 question right out of 10. So we had a run towards the climax of the show of 4 correct answers and 27 wrong answers (only 6 correct answers were offered in the entire second half of the show) with a bunch of questions of the level of "Who directed "Citizen Kane"?" and "Which novel by Herman Melville begins with the line "Call Me Ishmael"?

I can't really see how watching people struggle to answer relatively simple questions constitutes entertainment. Even if we accept the artificial gimmicks that level the playing field between the quizzer and the non quizzer - the random nature of the clock, the ability to steal other people's gains (whether hard-earned or not) - it would surely be preferable to ensure that contestants had at least a rudimentary level of general knowledge?

Terry Wilton said...

I've just watched this truly dreadful "quiz" programme again. Never again! My opinion of Rory Bremner as host has been confirmed. He is continually fed lines that allow a witty rejoinder but every time he is unable to manage it. He may be amusing when pretending to be somebody else but as himself he has the personality of a rather bored petrol pump attendant on a damp Saturday morning.
The format is even more absurd than I first thought. The only slightly interesting section is the ‘face off’ when the last two contestants answer against a ticking clock.
Why not adopt this arrangement for the whole show? Give the six contestants 4 minutes each and keep going until just one is left?
That would take away the illogical circumstance whereby the very weakest contestant can win.