By rights I ought to have enjoyed this more. Museums? Love ‘em. Quizzes? Ditto. Griff Rhys Jones? Liked his 3 Men in a Boat shows, Smith and Jones, and Not The Nine O’Clock News. So what went wrong?
The basic premise of the show is that two teams of two experts each undergo a range of rounds relating to identifying various museum objects, either what they are, or what they do, or finding a specific object based on a cryptic clue provided by the other team. Each show takes place in a different museum.
I think my lack of enjoyment comes partly because this is a show with a bit of an identity crisis. I mean it is called a quiz, and there are questions asked, and sometimes there are even answers given. But for a lot of its running time I got the impression that the questions were being treated as a bit of an irrelevance, something getting in the way of what the panelists really wanted to do, which was chat, and exchange what passes for witticisms amongst such exalted circles, one supposes. It was a bit odd too, considering how unashamedly highbrow aspects of this show were, that there seemed to be a bias towards the smutty and scatological amongst the objects being discussed, the ladle for removing baby excrement, and the plate decorated with willies being the most obvious examples. Strange.
I’ve been branded smug enough times in the past myself to be wary of applying that adjective to anybody else. The panelists have the titles, the positions, the expertise and the authority to be on the show in the first place, and good luck to them for that, but, oh I don’t know, maybe it’s my own inverted snobbery, but I felt like I was at a dinner party with a group of people I’ve never met, who were all trying to impress each other, and made it perfectly clear that they weren’t interested in anything I might have to say. Believe it or not, I don’t mind not knowing things, especially if there’s no real reason why I should have known it prior to the show, but make it interesting, and don’t bore me.
I don’t have a problem with highbrow quizzes, and I don’t have a problem with lowbrow quizzes. I have a problem with boring quizzes, and with bad quizzes, and quizzes which don’t work. This one didn’t work for me. Sorry.