Wednesday, 11 February 2009

New Improved Battle of The Brains Mark Two

Battle of the Brains - Series Two

Would it be unkind if I were to start by saying "If at first you don't succeed . . . " ? Probably. Back in the misty past, in August just after I started this blog, the first series of "Battle of the Brains" aired to distinctly mixed reviews. By the end of the series many people, this reviewer included, felt that it had been something of an opportunity missed. To summarise some of the criticisms which were made of the show : -
*Paddy O'Connell, the presenter is a very witty man and an accomplished broadcaster, but he did not manage to project this on the show, and lacked charisma and personality
*Some of the individual head to head rounds were decided by one single question
*One of the sets of individual rounds would involve guessing numbers, plucking them from thin air almost.
*In the final round for the money every fourth or fifth question was so difficult that it was virtually impossible for anyone to win the money.
*Generally the pace of the show was too slow, with too few questions in a half hour.

So, now that we've seen the first few shows of the new, improved BOTB, how have these criticisms been addressed ?

*Nicky Campbell has replaced Paddy O'Connell. Nicky Campbell is an experienced game show hand. He fronted ITVs Wheel of Fortune and BBCs Come and have a Go If You Think You're Smart Enough. When I appeared on the latter I was impressed with his total command of the situation. Like Paddy he's a witty man as well. I do think as much as Paddy was guilty of underselling the show, Nicky needs to be careful that he doesn't oversell it. A little less shouting, a little less hyperbole, would do the trick.
* One of the individual rounds each day is still decided by a single question, although so far its always been a 'Going for Gold' style "Who Am I " question, along with multiple clues and freezing out after a wrong guess.
* Thank goodness the 'Name a Hairy Dog' number guess questions seem to have disappeared.
* In two out of the three shows so far the money questions have been much, much easier.
*The pace of the show could still be picked up more.

There are some other considerations. There's a clearly visible studio audience. I'm not sure how much this adds to the show in terms of atmosphere, but I certainly don't think its detrimental. The teams that we've seen so far haven't really matched the teams of the first series for quality. There has been talent in both of the winning teams so far, but spread thinly compared with many of the teams from the last series. But then considering the number of really great quizzers who took part in the first series, and didn't have the most enjoyable experience, then that's not really a surprise.

Its early days yet, so any judgement I pass has to be qualified. I do still think that 7 per team is too many, and I do still think that it doesn't deliver enough questions per show. I do still think that some of the question sets are unbalanced. But its good to see that some of the criticisms that I and others made of the first series do seem to have been taken on board. Its been a more promising start, and I shall continue to watch with interest.

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