Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Gift Wrapped

Eamonn Holmes is what I’m sure is seen as a ‘good safe pair of hands’ when it comes to presenting, and he’s been a bit of a jack of all presenting trades in his time. In terms of quizzes, he put in a five year stint as presenter of the BBC’s National Lottery Jet Set, which was a pretty standard lottery quiz, inoffensive enough in its own right. His latest offering is Gift Wrapped, one of two new shows keeping the 5 pm slot warm until the Chase returns. Well, if you read my previous review, you’ll know that I didn’t like the other one, The 21st Question. Would this one fare any better?

The show is presented by Eamonn and Ruth Langsford, who are of course husband and wife. That’s important to the whole idea of the show, since the contestants are three engaged couples.
Now, as I said, this is a summer replacement for the Chase, and is presumably aiming for the same audience. Personally, I don’t think it will have anything like the same appeal for them, but you see what you think. I didn’t mind the first round. In this each pair took turns to pick one of 9 categories on a board – for example – X-Factor winners. Then they’d be given nine things to fill in – for example, the titles of songs, and they would have to say which X Factor winner recorded them. After each pair answered a question, then they got a gift towards their gift list. Each team had three goes, so by the end of round 1 they could have filled up to 3 spaces on their board.

In round 2, then each couple had to look at a list, and say which was missing – eg – Britain’s busiest airports – Heathrow – blank – Manchester – the answer being Gatwick. Each correct answer added another item to the list, When a couple had five items, they progressed to the final round. In the final round the remaining two couple had to look at lists of three things. They had to say which of the list fitted the category – which might be just one of them, any two of them, or all three. Getting it right would move them one rung up the board, getting it wrong would mean they would have to try again on the next go. First couple to the top of the board won. In order to win the items on their gift list AND a holiday, the couples played a reverse version of the end game of Family Fortunes. One person went away to a soundproofed room (presumably), while the other was given six categories, and a few seconds to name things in the category – eg. Bridges. Then the other was brought back, told what was said, and challenged to guess the categories, winning a list item for each correct answer.

What can I say that is positive about this show? Well, the format is ok – and the first three rounds work ok as short quiz games. And . . . um . . .

As for the negatives – well let’s see: -
·     *    I don’t mind Eamonn Holmes, and I don’t mind Ruth Langford. But I don’t need Eamonn telling me that Jeff Bridges is her favourite actor, and I certainly don’t need to know that she calls him her silverback gorilla. Far, far, far too much information. Unnecessary, and frankly a little nauseating. Apart from the fact that the show is for couples, and they ARE a couple there is absolutely no reason why this show needs two hosts.
·     *    Inevitably there’s an emphasis on chat, and it’s not something I’m interested in.
·    *     The format of the show necessitates having couples on it. And . . . well, I’m sorry, but, well, working together the couples on the show I saw aren’t frankly very knowledgeable. Now, OK, if it’s a show like The Weakest Link, where you knew you were going to have a bad answer ridiculed, then fair enough. But on a show like this, where the atmosphere can be cloyingly, insincerely sweet, then having the hosts try to gloss over the fact that one of the contestants, when given the clues – Sydney Harbour – Clifton Suspension – Tower – was totally incapable of dredging up the word bridge – was just embarrassing.
·    *     For me the endgame seemed strangely at odds with what had gone before. The switch from answering questions, to playing a word game gave the whole show the feeling of something stitched together from left over parts of older shows.

So no, I don’t think it’s a great show, and I don’t think it has legs. Let’s say that there was nothing I wanted to see  on any other channel. I walked into the front room, and the telly had been left on ITV, while this was on. Would I watch it because I couldn’t be bothered to change channel? 


Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

A bit of solace for you (and others who may not yet know, since I assume you will!) - Only Connect returns a week on Monday in its first BBC2 outing.

I didn't expect much of this show, and it seems expectations were not exceeded. Ah well, it happens!

Londinius said...

Hi Adam,

Yeah, like so many new mid range quiz shows, there's actually some nice ideas here, but too much of what I don't like and am not interested in to make watching it a really worthwhile experience. It doesn't matter what I think, though, because I'm not the target audience. If I'm watching any quiz show at this time of day normally, then it's Pointless. But even the intended audience - well I just can't see that if you're a fan of The Chase, this show has anything really in it to tickle your fancy.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

The thing is, for me, The Chase has a totally different appeal to the likes of this show.

Now I could be greatly misunderstanding The Chase, but to me the appeal is similar to that of The Eggheads - the prestige and story to tell the kids/grandkids of having beaten a champion quizzer at their own game (in addition to the cash of course). The formats are fair enough to make it a possibility for good enough quizzers, as has been seen (particular plaudits go to those very rare and good few who can beat the entire team of Eggheads alone!).

This has appeal to the contestants, and the underdog factor appeals to viewers too. There's something very British about supporting the heroic underdog in a David vs. Goliath scenario, after all. The fact that the Chasers - Ann and Shawn in particular - play themselves up as villains in whose defeat the contestants and audience can revel only seems to confirm this as a large part of the point of the whole thing.

As I say, I could be misreading completely, but if I'm right, then its current replacement is something totally different for unknown reasons.

Londinius said...

Hi Adam

" its current replacement is something totally different for unknown reasons."

Agree with you. As for the reasons, well, we can't actually KNOW, but it's interesting to speculate.

* Someone said in a meeting - I know that this gimmick sounds a bit pants, but trust me, it might just word - AND someone believed them

* Someone approached Eamonn Holmes and said - you can do this show with your good lady wife - and when he expressed an interest the executives wanted to keep him sweet so went along with it

* Maybe it looked appealing because they might have been comparing it against the 21st Question.