Wednesday, 8 September 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Round One – Match 1 – Epicureans v. Courtiers

What a pleasure to see Monday night’s unbeatable tag team of UC and OC back in harness ! One of the things you sometimes hear people saying about Only Connect is something along the lines of – Great Show , but won’t they run out of connections eventually. Well, based on the evidence of Monday night’s show, the well is still very far from running dry, I am delighted to say.

The honour of kicking off the new series, then , went to teams called The Epicureans and The Courtiers. The Epicureans consisted of David Brewis, Aaron Bell, and Katie Bramall-Stainer. David has appeared on quite a few shows in his time, and has the distinction of being a University Challenge finalist for Oriel, Oxford, in 1998. Aaron is also a University Challenge finalist having played for the St. John’s Oxford team of 2001. However, in 2009, Aaron won the Krypton Factor. As for the captain, Katie reached the semi finals of Mastermind in the 2007 SOBM. Not only that , but she is also married to David Stainer, captain of the all-conquering Crossworders. To be honest, the words ‘star studded line-up’ don’t seem inappropriate in this case.

The Courtiers, a team connected through the Northern Ireland Court Service , though, presented themselves as if they meant business. They were Mark Hanna, Richard Ronaldson, and captain Paul Mitchell. I can’t say that I was familiar with any of the names as the quiz started, but that doesn’t mean anything at all, and is probably more of a sign of my ignorance than anything else.

Just before the start Victoria revealed that in response to some critics’ claims that the use of Greek letters was pretentious, the team had decided to junk them in favour of Egyptian Hieroglyphs ! Great ! All those hours that prospective teams had to spend learning Greek wasted .

Round One - What's The Connection ?

On with the show. Courtiers kicked off , and recognised that a group which began with Linda Dobbs and included Diane Abbot and Michelle Obama would be the first black women to achieve prominence in their particular field for a point. The Epicureans lived up to their name by spotting by only the second clue that 75ml of spirits would give you a triple. The Courtiers recognised a good set of electoral systems for 2. The Epicureans then received the picture set, and were unable to unravel a haystack, a horseshoe, a tent and a baseball. Brownie points for making up wrestlers to go with Giant Haystacks, though. The courtiers could see that they were all things which you would pitch. This was followed by a frankly brilliant connection . Given USS Constitution and Edmund II, the Courtiers deserved their three points for coming up with Ironsides. Now that’s three points really well earned. Brilliant. Then the Epicureans made it a double by getting pictures and music. This time they made no mistake, recognising that all of the artistes performing were Doctors in some way – Dr. Feelgood – Dr. Dre etc . So by the end of the round, the Courtiers had shown that they were here to make a fight of it, and had a deserved lead of 7 to 5.

Round Two - What Comes Fourth ?

The quality of a high quality show was maintained in the second round. Courtiers rightly worked out that Quatrain, tercet, couplet would be completed by line. The Epicureans stumbled on Newbury – Marston Moor – Newbury. Yes, it had to be Civil War battles, but which next ? In the end they zagged, while the Courtiers correctly zigged with Naseby – as Victoria says, ANY question about the Civil War is worth answering with Naseby. Senior, junior and sophomore were gratefully accepted by Courtiers, who supplied Freshman in short order. The Eps, though, produced a good one when they correctly identified a series of colours and numbers as relating to lottery balls, and worked out the last set would be green. This was followed by officially The Finest Connection In The Whole Show. Along with many people of a certain age, whenever I see or hear the words “Hammersmith Palais “ – I can’t help immediately thinking – The Bolshoi Ballet – Jump Back in the alley and Nanny Goats. Oh, the poor Courtiers. They just didn’t see that this was part of the lyric of Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be Cheerful Part Three. The Eps did know the song, but not what completed the set. This was the first connection to evade both teams, a very rare article in this show, I might add. Finally the Eps nabbed the pictures again by getting a Donegal Beard, Simon Mayo – James Galway. They worked out this was counties of the republic of Ireland by area, and Cork would be next. Good shout that.
What a great contest we were seeing so far – the Courtiers leading by 12 to 9.

Round Three - The Connecting Walls

Going first on the wall the Eps chose the water wall, and , I have to say, demolished it at great speed. They quickly unravelled sets of words ending in 4 vowels, things you can jump, words to which – land can be added to make countries , and people who were the first presidents of their respective countries. Chances were things were going to be very tight going into the missing vowels. The Courtiers were left with the lion wall. They spotted characters either played or voiced by David Jason very quickly. It was only late in the day they unravelled a set of characters or real people who wore eye patches, and words for fast. The last set, they just couldn’t see. For me the give away was The King of Spain. Ashley Giles , whose nickname should have been The King of Spin, had some mugs made up, where the name The King of Spain had been wrongly put on them. The name stuck. A close and absorbing game had become even more close and absorbent, as both teams now had 19 points.

Round Four - Missing Vowels

If you play quickly, then you get more time on the missing vowels. There’s no mystery to it , and nothing sinister – that’s the way it works, and both these teams had played very quickly. So a long session began with Martial Arts. It became pretty clear very quickly that the Eps had phenomenal buzzer speed. In 7 sets of vowels, which included 19th century periodicals, Cheeses in Monty Python’s Cheese sketch, Peninsulae, Films about the Vietnam War, and others, the Eps never scored less than three out of the four. By the end, they had beaten a shell-shocked set of Courtiers by 41 to 22 – a new Only Connect record. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Courtiers were thrashed. They were not ! They were a highly impressive team, who in another game , against another team – many other teams – could have come away as winners. But as for the Eps, they have shown their credentials, and emerged from a tough match to sail into the next round. Well done !

Both teams a credit to the show – a match carried out in the finest traditions of Only Connect.


Paul Mitchell said...

Hi David,

As captain of the ill-fated Courtiers I would like to thank you for your most fair and kind review of our Only Connect episode. It was indeed an honour to be given the series opener. In many ways it was relief that we lost by a large margin as I would never have forgiven myself if my failure to identify the glaringly obvious Ashley Giles etc connection, had been the difference between winning and losing. I heartily agree with your final sentence : "Both teams a credit to the show – a match carried out in the finest traditions of Only Connect." Excellent review David, thank you. Regards, Paul Mitchell (The Courtiers). PS A little bird tells me you are on the show yourself. Good luck!

Andrew B. said...

It seemed to be a very easy Missing Vowels round...

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I have previously noted similar youth experiences and for me, Hammersmith Palais is automatically followed by 'the Bolshoi ballet'. This was one of those occasions where I wish I had been a contestant and could have impressed everyone with my brilliant answer!! (BTW Ian Dury was also a pupil at my school - before my time) I would have got the cricketers on Punter although White Lightning for me will for ever be Juantorena.

I would agree that it was a great show and splendid to have OC back again.

Londinius said...

Hello Paul - and how nice of you to take time to drop by and leave a comment. I'll be honest, I thought your team played terrifically well. The only way that you and the Eps could be seperated was by the vowels. Yes, I must come clean, like George Washington your little bird can not tell a lie - I am a member of the Radio Addicts, and our match is due not this Monday, but the one after.

Hi Andrew

Personally I felt it didn't look any easier than normal, but then its all subjective, since they're all easy if you know them. Feel free to disagree.

Hi Chris

Yes, those opportunities to wow and impress friends and colleagues don't come along that often, and sometimes when they do its in the wrong place at the wrong time. I loved the connection though - full marks to whoever came up with that particular one. Loved it.


Aaron said...

Hi David,

I'd like to echo everything Paul has said about your review, and also to commiserate once again with the Courtiers who were, as you say, terrific opposition, as well as being very nice guys.

We were also perhaps a touch fortunate: to be given "triple" in place of "treble" and to have 2 of our either/or guesses (lottery balls, Irish counties) land the right way. I also thought we had the easier wall but perhaps it just played to our strengths?

My only slight quibble with the show was the "delay" on the MV round which must have been approaching 2 seconds; I understand why they do it but I thought it was a bit overdone on this episode which was particularly unkind on our opponents who we could see were often only a split-second behind us (at least until they just started laughing instead!) It also made our answering in duplicate/triplicate look odd since it appeared that we'd taken two seconds to get the answer then all three of us had simultaneously 'got it'...

Best, Aaron

Londinius said...

Hi Aaron, and welcome to LAM.

Congratulations on a terrific show in which both teams played their full part. As regards the triple/treble thing, well, you know how it works on TV, yes, sometimes you maybe get a little bit of the rub of the green, and then other times you don't - it tends to even itself out in the end.

I know what you mean about the delay, but then I can see the other side as well. Playing along at home, even with the delay you guys were still far too quick for me to get some of the answers before you buzzed in. I guess that its maybe different once you have actually played in the show, and you see how quickly it really happens, but for the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of viewers at home, they have only ever seen it with the delay, and so don't notice. Its just my opinion, but I can't say that the delays came across as anything longer than they usually do.

Thanks for your comments, and feel free to drop by anytime



Andrew B. said...

Re the delay in Round 4: if our series 3 semifinal (Archers Admirers v Gamblers) is repeated again, watch Paul very carefully for the fourth clue - when he raises his finger about a second after the clue appears on screen, that's when we see it!

In series 1 (not sure about series 2), the delay is shorter (if there at all) as some of the answers were given almost immediately - which is presumably why they introduced the delay.