Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Only Connect - Series Nine - Grand Final

Europhiles v. Relatives

I made sure that I gave myself a good talking too before I watched this, the 9th Grand Final. Dave – I said, that being my name – Dave – just remember, it’s the Grand Final. It’s supposed to be difficult. – Suitably reminded I sat down to watch the last two battle hardened teams of survivors battle it out for supremacy. It was always a possibility that we would end up with a final between two teams who have actually met before. Winners of that first round clash were The Europhiles, Douglas Thomson, Khuram Rashid and captain Mark Seager,who defeated the Heath Family and their final opposition, the Relatives, putting them through to a semi final clash with the Software Engineers. Basically, to sum up their series, if they have a good first round, second round, and wall, then they win by quite a distance, and if they don’t, then captain Mark wins it for them in the Missing Vowels round. As for the Relatives, husband and wife Hamish and Davina Galloway together with Davina’s son Nick Latham, lost out in a close contest with the Europhiles in their first match, before hammering the last nail into the coffin of the Exhibitionists in their first sudden death shootout. Almost inevitably this meant that they too could qualify for the semis by beating the Record Collectors, which they did, setting up a semi final with fancied contenders the Welsh Learners. The first match between these two teams was only decided by the missing vowels – would we see a repeat of that? If we did, then my money was firmly on the Euros.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

First to go in this final Grand Final on BBC4 were the Euros. They chose Twisted Flax, and received - Monaco – Stoccarda – Colonia – and I didn’t know at this point – and they took the final clue of Berlino. – Ah – said I – I don’t know but I’d guess that this is German cities in Italian. The Euros didn’t really get it, nor did the Rellies.Yet for me, the set worked perfectly since the last clue really gave you a fair chance at it. The Rellies chose Eye of Horus, for Former Japanese Province – Moroccan Seaport – and here again enlightenment stuck. Working on Satsuma – Tangiers – it looked fairly like they had citurs fruit/oranges named after them. Chinese Civil servant sealed the deal for the Rellies. Now, funnily enough the last clue was Clement Rodier – which if anything would have clouded the issue a little for me – he was the man after whom the Clementine was named. First blood to the Rellies. The Euros went for Lion, and saw a set of pictures. This was harder, but again gettable. We saw Ghandi and Ghee – Veranda and Vera Duckworth – Shandy and Shy - and Panda and Pa Larkin. Just take out the and from the first to get the second. Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s gettable – the Euros could see Veranda and Vera for example. Two reeds was the next choice of the Rellies, Now, I did think that their set – I Puritani – Children of the New Forest – was gettable after two. I knew that the book was set during the English Civil War, and the title of I Puritani suggests the same. I might well have held off until And When did You Last See Your Father? – but that would have definitely sealed the deal. The last clue was Witchfinder General, and this wasn’t enough for either team. The Euros found the music clues behind Water. I didn’t know the first two , but the Commodore’s Nightshift was a huge clue. If you know the song, you know that it’s a tribute to Marvin Gaye – (Marvin , you were a friend of mine – and he could sing a song, his heart in every line – amen.) and Jackie Wilson. That was my guess – tributes to dead musicians, and American Pie as the last clue confirmed that big time. The Euros just didn’t see it , which meant a relatively easy bonus for the Rellies, Hamish and Davina being, without wicshing to be rude – of a similar vintage to myself, I would guess. A chance to go even further ahead was revealed behind horned viper, when the beast kicked us off. The monk came next, but enlightenment didn’t. The prose came third, and we finished with the passion. Nobody had it, nor me, never having actually read Howard’s End. They are all from the quote which contains the words ‘Only Connect’. Nonetheless, everything had gone well for the Rellies – who led by 3 – 0. Neither team was yet quite firing on all cylinders in what I thought was the fairest round one for a while.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

The Euros opted for two reeds. We began with (eg) Hanunó’o – (eg) English – (eg) Japanese. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t a clue which way to take this one any more than did either team. It’s all to do with the direction in which these languages are written. Hard, but not unfair. Eye of Horus gave us A load of symbols which I find very difficult to reproduce on my keyboard. The Rellies had no more clue than I did, neither did the Euros. They were all quantum numbers, and the last one wanted was n. I don’t know enough about the subject to be able to comment on the obscurity or otherwise of that clue – for all I know people with GCSE Science or better were shouting at the screen – come on, it’s really easy! – so I shall move on. Water gave the Euros a lovely set – of Booth – Guiteau. A nice, rather straightforward set for those who know their American history. Now, had the first said Wilkes Booth, then a five pointer was there for everyone. Even without it, Guiteau assassinated James Garfield – so Oswald was clearly going to be the last. The Euros took Czolgoz to be sure. The Rellies took Twisted Flax, and some pictures. We saw a very nice landscape view – an engraving of some figure on horseback – and Siegfried of him and Roy fame. Now, that clearly meant we were dealing with Wagner’s Ring cycle. Hamish knew it, but he couldn’t dredge up Gotterdammerung. The Euros could, and I’m sorry to be harsh, Rellies, but that really was an opportunity missed. Mark spurned the opportunity to voice the second vowel of Hroned as he went for the viper, and why not? He was having a good round as it was. The clues were Kabul – Tirana – and here they very smartly worked out that Afghanistan is first alphabetically – Albania second – son Andorra would be 4th, and its capital is Andorra La Vella. Good shout – lovely set. Oh, welcome back Only Connect! I’ve missed you in the last couple of weeks! Lion remained for the Rellies. 4th: Play slowly – 3rd: Trellick Tower Architect – 2nd: Something Bestowed.I’ll be honest – I went for Goldfinger for the architect, which gave Largo for the musical term. I was working on legacy – but if it was Grant – as in Red – then the first could only be Dr. No. Nobody had it. So a good round for the Euros meant that they led 6 – 3, and you sensed that the Rellies were up against it.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Rellies kicked off with Lion. They saw a set of anagrams early doors, but they wouldn’t resolve for several goes – until they found the correct set of Easat – Eats – Seta and Teas. I saw a set of plurals of greek letters, as did the Rellies – but they used too much time finding Rhos – Etas – Phis – Psis. When the wall was resolved we saw – Kite – Seat – Room and File which can come after the word box – then pate – love – Toms – Mize – American Major winning golfers. 6 points.

With a good Water wall the Euros could at this point have killed off the match. There was another anagram set, but they didn’t see it. IN fact they struggled to get anything from the wall in the time available, failing to solve any lines. When it was resolved Opts – stop – tops – pots were the anagrams. Post – Mast – Prop – Pole were all supporting structures. They didn’t see that Rate – Race – Hole – and Test can all be followed by card. Neither did I. Finally Spot – Wart – Mole – Pock are all skin blemishes. 3 points, and what do you know, we had a tied game at 9 apiece.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

I don’t know if the Euros were licking their metaphorical lips at this point, but they were certainly favourites now, following some previous stellar performances on the vowels. The first set was people who have switched on Blackpool Illuminations – Mark took 3, and Rellies 1. Mothers and daughters fell 2 – 0 to Mark. Things represented by or abbreviated to consecutive letters of the alphabet gave Mark two more points. This gave us a final score of 16 – 10 to the Europhiles. Bad luck to the Relatives, but there’s no shame in coming runners up in a series of Only Connect. Many congratulations to Mark, Douglas and Khuram, the final BBC4 Only Connect Champions.

Well done to the production team as well. Yes, I’ve made criticisms of some of the question nsets, but the series has been as intensely watchable as ever. Well done for pitching it right for the final – was it a conscious decision to make the final easier than the semis, or just a happy accident? Who knows – but well done, and the very best of luck in your move to BBC2 for next series.


Michael said...

Hi Dave, interesting to see others' opinions on OC questions as always, and I also thought the final seemed lovely and well-balanced. I've noticed you comment on a few posts about the difficulty this series, so in case you haven't seen it I thought I'd share my analysis of scoring this series over on my blog here.

Londinius said...

Hi Michael

Thanks for this. It makes very interesting reading, and I'm going to post a link in a post.

Michael said...

Glad to hear, and thanks, wasn't too trivial an effort getting the data so nice to see it being read.

dxdtdemon said...

I don't know what they teach in British science classrooms, but I have a feeling that some amount of knowledge about the Bohr model of the atom would be included. While I wouldn't say that it is something obvious that every GCSE physics (or chemistry) student would be screaming at the screen, a fair number of them should remember it. I did like that they did the quantum numbers backwards because I'm not sure I would've specifically remembered m sub s if they went in the correct order. For those of you not in the know, for an electron orbiting a nucleus, n is the energy level, l refers to the orbital, m sub l to the suborbital, and m sub s to the spin state. If you read various electrochemistry or quantum mechanics texts, you will often see pairs of electrons referred to in their nlm state (with m referring to m sub l).

Unknown said...

You don't think r1 in sf1 was fair?

Londinius said...


Round one in Semi final 1? No, looking back on my review I felt that was tough but fair.

The problem with my having used that word fair is that it does have connotations. I wouldn't want anyone for one moment to think that I am suggesting that their was bias in favour of either team in any show. I know that the way that the questions fall is purely the luck of the draw.

In the series as a whole, though, I do feel that there have been a number of uneven sets, and obscure sets. That's purely my own opinion, and people may well think that I'm talking (writing) complete nonsense. Maybe I am as well, but it is my opinion.

Honestly, I'm not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but I feel that in a good OC set, while clue 4 might not be 'easy' as such - it ought to make things clearer than what has gone before. In a number of sets this year the last clue has proven no more helpful than the first, and in some cases, less helpful. Once again, just my opinion.

As for obscurity, well there's always been, and is always going to be things that I don't know. Science for example. But even allowing for that, I just felt that there has been a greater number of sets than usual when my reaction when they have been explained as been "Huh?" or "What the Hell?" - or "How the hell is anyone supposed to know that?" , rather than "ahhh! " or " well, I didn't get it, but that's a great set."Again, it's just my opinion.

I honestly am not deliberately trying to be mean or to upset anyone connected with the show.

However, I am trying to be honest.

Every time I have praised the show in a review - have said how much I enjoyed it, or how great a question set has been, I have meant every word.

The flip side of this is that if I have a criticism, such as this, then I'm going to mention it as well.


Unknown said...

Actually I think this kind of constructive criticism has been helpful. The next series is looking to be a good one.

Londinius said...

Hi Wj

Oh good - I'm glad that you're not offended. I genuinely don't like the thought of upsetting anyone, and if anything I write helps at all, then I'm very happy indeed.

Looking forward to the BBC2 debut in the future.

Unknown said...

There's some pretty offensive stuff written on the Digital Spy forum - honestly you wonder why people watch a show they clearly hate!