Saturday, 8 August 2015

Mastermind - Round One - Heat One

If you’re like me, then one of the annual TV events you look forward to is the return of each of the great quizzes each year, and Mastermind is not exception to this. If you’re not, then I’m happy to have your company, although I can’t help suggesting that you’re reading the wrong blog by mistake.

The honour of being the first of this year’s contenders fell to Dave Barker. He had the sort of specialist round that would have caused fulminations among certain sections of the media a few years back. Dave offered us Marvel Comics 1961 – 1980 – that’s only 19 years on what I think was the golden age of Marvel Comics. Well, I would think that – I started reading “The Mighty World of Marvel” when it started in the mid 70s, and that was reprinting stories from the 60s. I thought that I’ve seen more testing rounds than this one, based on my admittedly non-expert knowledge of the subject – I answered 7 of these. Dave, though, can only answer the questions that he is actually asked, and he managed all bar one of these, starting off with a very good 13.

I also scored 7 on Dan Uzstan’s round on Shakespeare’s Comedies – and I hasten to add that I didn’t trouble the scorers again until we got to the GK rounds. Personally, and this is just my opinion, and by all means feel free to disagree, I found this to be a harder round than the previous. With a significant number of the Marvel questions I thought that major details were being asked for, while with this round a lot of minor details were needed. Dan scored a distinctly useful 12, and had achieved the absolutely crucial thing of not losing it on the SS round.

John Martyn, who was offered us by Robert Jacobs, was not a musician whose work I am overly familiar with. So I can’t comment on the relative ease or difficulty of the questions that Robert was asked. What I can say is that in the last two or three years we’ve seen how specialist scores, by and large, have come down as the setters have moved to longer questions. This means that in a two minute round double figures is a good score, and Robert managed this with 11 and 3 passes, only 2 off the lead and certainly in with a shout.

Beryl Freedman offered us Pu Yi. Pu Yi – who he? Have you not seen The Last Emperor? For that’s who he was. It’s always a pleasure to see 4 well prepared contenders who have obviously put the work into their specialist subject. In my opinion that’s the only way to prepare for MM – if you don’t treat the show with respect and do the work for it, then chances are it’s going to come right back and bite you on the backside. Beryl achieved a very useful 11, which meant that she too was just one point behind the leader as we turned around at half time.

Robert Jacobs deserves a little sympathy, since I reckon that there’s going to be quite a few shows in the next few months where a score of 11 on specialist would not see you last at half time. Still, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and he returned to the chair. It wasn’t in all honesty a bravura performance. But it wasn’t bad, and achieved double figures, which at least was enough to put the other contenders standing by the door of the corridor of uncertainty, if not actually inside it. Beryl’s performance, though, opened the door and gave the last two contenders a hefty shove into the corridor. Again, it wasn’t a perfect GK round, but it was a very good one. Even in a 2 and a half minute GK round a score of 14 is never to be sniffed at, and Beryl’s combined total of 25 was enough of a target to at last make the job difficult for the remaining two contenders.

Too difficult for Dan Uzstan, as it turned out. He didn’t produce a bad round at all – none of last night’s contenders did that, which is a little bit of a rarity in itself. However before the minute mark you had the feeling that he was behind the clock, and this was a feeling which grew stronger as the finish line approached. On the evidence of the show, he was beaten by somebody with a stronger GK than his, and there’s no shame in that at all.

So the last question was whether Dave Barker’s GK would be good enough for him to hold on to  at least one point of the 2 point lead he had established in the SS round. To cut a long story short, he could, but just the one point, which was fair since I didn’t think his round was quite as good as Beryl’s. A small point here – Dave showed admirable presence of mind to be the only one of last night’s contenders not to pass at all. In the end it didn’t come down to that, but it could have done, and so full marks for tactics there. Dave won with 26. Well played, and hard lines to Beryl. John mentioned the possibility of her returning in a repechage slot. It’s certainly possible, since the last repechage slot went to a 25 last year – my gut feeling is that she may be a point or two short, or may find her 3 passes counting against her – but time will tell.

The Details

Dave Barker
Marvel Comics 1961-1980
Dan Uzstan
Shakespeare’s Comedies
Robert Jacobs
John Martyn
Beryl Freedman
Pu Yi

Post script

In case you haven’t seen this elsewhere, next week’s show has been pulled from the running order for the time being since one of the contenders was offering us Sir Edward Heath as a specialist subject. This is rather understandable given the item in the news relating to the late Sir Edward. Whether this show will eventually be transmitted is a matter of conjecture, I am sure, and I’d guess that it will depend on the way events turn out. 

1 comment:

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

A strong start to the series, looking forward to more of it.

One sour note though, I see that John is still doing that annoying thing of clarifying correct answers. The whole point is that if an answer is deemed right you move on to the next question, if wrong, you lose time hearing the right answer! I really wish he'd stop clarifying it in borderline cases - either it's acceptable or not. Last series there were times when this meant a potentially fateful extra question wasn't asked because of it and I'd hate to see that again.

Understandable that next week's show has been pulled, as you say if an eventual finalist or perhaps the winner was on it - could of course be the contender with the specialist subject in question - then presumably it will have to be shown in some form. The issue is unlikely to go away before the end of the first round broadcasts though so the producers have a quandry on their hands.

By the way Dave, not sure if you were aware that ITV have got a new show on just now, replacing The Chase temporarily? It's called Freeze Out, and is based around the gimmick of contestants sliding mini-curling stones onto an icy circle. Not a patch on The Chase to me, if nothing else because the questions are significantly easier (probably a similar level to Tipping Point actually) but the gimmick does allow for a bit of non-GK competition between the players which is quite fun to watch in its way.