Bearing in mind this is Richard Osman’s first outing as main (in fact, only) presenter of a quiz show this garnered its fair share of advance publicity. And why not? Richard Osman has earned it with Pointless. He’s a very smart guy, as you could see from his stellar performance on one of the sleb editions of Only Connect a year or two ago. Well, Pointless is a show which has already earned its place in the pantheon of all time great quiz shows. So the question with “Two Tribes” was always going to be – is this going to be a case of ‘difficult second album’ syndrome?
As it happens I read an interview with Richard published in the Metro last week, and in it he said many things, including that in his opinion the finest quiz show format is actually Family Fortunes. Well, I don’t agree with that at all, but I have to say that when the format is inverted in the way that Pointless does it, then you do end up with something totally excellent. He also said that he liked the idea of a quiz show of just questions being fired at contestants. Well, there’s actually quite a bit of that in Two Tribes. This is how the first show worked: -
We began with 7 contestants. Each of them had been asked a long list of yes/no questions about their own likes and dislikes prior to the show. The answers they gave were used to split them up into ‘tribes’ – for tribes read teams – for each round. So, for example in one round we had those who like karaoke playing against those who don’t. One tribe goes first. A member of the tribe is asked a question. If he/she gets it right, then the next is asked a new question. If he/she gets it wrong, then the next has to answer it. If all members of the tribe fail to answer it, then their go is over. Each round is timed. The winning tribe automatically go forward to the next round. In the losing team, for the first couple of round, one member is dropped through the use of sudden death buzzer questions. Then all players go back into the middle, and are split into two new tribes – eg – those who admit to lying about their age and those who don’t. When we get down to two teams of 2 players, the teams play against each other on the buzzer. The first to 5 correct answers wins. There is no penalty for an incorrect buzz, but questions are passed over. For the final, both players are given 60 seconds. Player one gets a question, and the clock starts to go down. If they answer incorrectly or pass, then they get another question. Their clock only stops when they get one right, and it passes over to the opponent, whose clock starts. The first one whose time runs out is out. Yesterday the winner had the choice between a thousand pounds to spend on going to the theatre, or a thousand pounds to spend on travel.
That’s it. So – how do I rate the show? Well: -
* - The tribes thing is a gimmick – and I’m not sure that it would necessarily make a huge difference to the outcome of the show if they each stayed in the same team throughout. It doesn’t grate, though, and doesn’t get in the way of the questions, so fair enough.
* - The Questions. Part of the beauty of Pointless is that it offers something for everyone. Anyone can play it and have a decent stab at answers, but on the other hand there is enough in it to keep really good quizzers interested, speculating what might be a good pointless answer etc. By the nature of this quiz, it can’t be so inclusive. I found that the level of the questions, while perfect for the contestants, and, I’m sure, for the majority of the intended audience, offered nothing for the good quizzer to get his/her teeth into. I mean, we’re not exactly talking Weakest-Link-Insult-To-The-Intelligence level questions, but they weren’t that much harder either. Richard in an interview I read compared the show with the original Fifteen to One because of the way that questions are fired at contestants. Well, the rounds are all too short for that to be a fair comparison, even before we start to talk about the level of the questions, to be honest.
* The Gameplay – Does the gameplay of the show actually work against the best quizzer in the bunch? Actually no. Unlike some quiz shows for this audience and in this time slot I’ve seen, this show does reward knowledge, and it’s probably fair to say that if one of the seven was a good quizzer, then they’d be far more likely to win the show than the other contestants. IMHO this is to be applauded.
* The FAQ (Faffing About Quotient) – if you’re a regular you’ll know that this is a little bit of a bugbear of mine. It’s probably misanthropic of me to say so, but I’m really not interested in ‘getting to know’ contestants on a daytime quiz show, and tend to think of anything but the bare minimum of interruptions and chat as being time wasted. Still, there’s no doubt that Richard is a witty and intelligent guy, and even without Zander he still manages to raise a chuckle or two.
But do I actually like the show? Well, of its type it is perfectly effective, and watchable. No, I dare to say it isn’t another Pointless, but then Pointless is one of those examples of all of the right elements coming together to form something which is far more than the sum of its parts, and shows you can say that about don’t come along every day of the week. Maybe I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a negative backlash against this by Pointless fans. Personally, I think it’s worth a watch. See what you think.