Friday, 2 November 2007

My brain hurts. Seriously hurts. It's been more than 24 hours since I watched Dirty Rotten Cheater and I have spent pretty much every waking hour thinking back to that show and wondering what the hell was going on. Stephen had a point with Countdown and any game show out there. A good game show has to have an original idea and has to have that basic premise explained in a sentence. Deal or No Deal is "someone eliminates boxes of money at random and gambles accordingly", Who Wants to be a Millionaire is even simpler with "someone tries to answer 15 questions (or however you have to answer since it's re-vamp) or they can use one of three lifelines". Dirty Rotten Cheater however, would take about 175 sentences, 8 full-colour illustrations and 16 mathematical equations to fully explain. And even then you'd still kind of go: "...Eh?"

It starts off pretty well, 5 contestants, cash prizes. Simple enough. Then it starts to go seriously downhill with the introduction of the gurn personified, also known as Brian Conley. I had one of those moments of "aaah, so he's still alive then?" followed one of those moments of "aaah, so he's still employed then?".

But surprisingly, he's not the worst part of the show, nor is the fact that it's a load of confusing bollocks. It's the fact that it steals from every game show out there, jumbles them together into one big load, then unleashes. Here's a quick drinking game, take a shot every time you see an idea taken from another show. You'll be legless by the end of the first round.

The game starts with said 5 contestants, and after the usual mundane chat in which Brian Conley tries to pretend he doesn't know what these people are about to say and tries even harder to pretend he hasn't written "comedic" material beforehand to respond with, the game starts. The contestants now proceed to guess the most popular answers of a question that 100 members of the general public (who also happen to be the studio audience) were asked. Shot number one right there. Then after that, the five have to choose who is The Dirty Rotten Cheater, in the exact same style as The Weakest Link, down to the looking down at their podiums, the lights lowering, the tense music, the name of the person appearing on the front of their podium. Only difference it's all a bit more red. Shot number two. But before they vote, they are goaded by Brian Conley to bitch and argue about who is this Dirty Rotten Cheater in front of each other, ala Poker Face with Ant 'n' Dec with it's lying except with this show it occasionally cuts back to Brian, gurning away, looking like he's taking some sick enjoyment in it all and barely holding back to urge to start chanting "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!".

Now let me explain just what The Dirty Rotten Cheater part is all about. Turns out one of them is a Dirty Rotten Cheater. They know all the answers, sneaky! They're working on the inside! You could possibly even call them... oooh I dunno, The Mole or even possibly... The Enemy Within. They have to try and get through the game trying to make sure they're not found out, and if they succeed, they keep the money they've won!

Now I feel I've done a reasonable job explaining the basic premise of the show in two paragraphs, but all that is pretty understandable. It's only when random things start happening that confuse unless you've been taking notes whilst watching. At seemingly any time, Mr. Conley can say "and that means I have to halve your money" and it is done. I only presume he says it when he's feeling like a bit of a bastard and wants people to feel inferior to him and his vast BBC wage. Then, when someones evicted, Mr. Conley tells them to go to the Losers' Lounge (in actuality, it's a bench in front of the audience) and as they walk off, taunts them with the promise that they can come back later and win 250 quid, despite this never actually occuring at the end of the show. As the fallen contestant meets up with all the other losers where they proceed to hug and kiss like they're family members who haven't spoke in years, not strangers who have spent the past half an hour accusing each other of lying. Halfway through the show, the audience starts voting instead of the contestants. No explanation is given, Conley just seems to decide willy-nilly that he wants the audience to vote instead. Maybe he got a bit bored of being a bastard halfway through and decided to change the was the game is played.

The best of all the confusing elements of the show was near the end, two contestants left and we've found out just who the cheater is, then for no reason that I can fathom other than the need for tension, the final two have to walk up to two clear tubes. It was at this time that Stephen walks into the living room and asks just what is going on, but by this point I'm physically weeping and crawling up in a ball, trying to make any sort of sense what's going on myself. I'll try to explain what I think happened. Y'see... these tubes have a hole, and some cash in them and, in all truthfulness, look spectacularly weedy if they are supposed to be elements in a climatic piece of drama. Conley, in the final act of bastardness, tells the cheater to put their hand in their hole, and as they do, his money falls through a small, hiddren trap door, presumably making the midget that evil Conley has trapped in there, a very rich person. Everybody claps, Conley gurns for a final time, roll credits.

I'm sure this show would make some sort of sense if I watched another episode or two, but unfortunately I've already dedicated the half an hour the show lasts to watching the BBC Three screen that tells me that programming starts at 7pm. It's a hell of a lot more fun.

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