Saturday, 19 January 2008

Duel or No Duel

Oh, ITV1. We've given you nothing but praise over the past few weeks, and how do you repay us? By scheduling another hour-long quiz show that is quite tedious to watch.

Today was the premiere of greatly-advertised Duel, a game show which despite getting a lot of publicity all week didn't tell us anything about the game itself. Presented by Nick Hancock, a man with as little charisma as a toe, it breaks the mold of question-and-answer game shows by having the option for the contestants to reply 'all answers' to each of the questions. Let me explain further.

"Welcome to the Duel Arena" exclaims Hancock, "where over the next few weeks and months, we will be making dreams come true". It's sweet to think that the show will be lasting months. Nick introduces us to the first two contestants, Matt and Karen. I'd have given them hilarious nicknames if they weren't so horribly dull. An attempted explanation about how the game works is provided by Hancock; "We'll give you one question between you and four possible answers. You are then given ten chips, and you must place a chip on your answer. If you're not sure about an answer, you can put your chips down on more than one answer. You then can lock down, or accelerate the gameplay. Each chip that is on a wrong answer is then eliminated, but the prize fund is then increased by £1,000". See. If only Deal or No Deal was that simple.

The first question is asked. "In a game of cricket, how many balls are bowled in an over?". Matt puts down his answer, 'B. 6'. Karen puts down her answer. 'A. 5, B. 6, C. 8 and D. 10'. Karen thinks she's playing Battleship.

The game plods along. Because Karen used four of her chips for her answer, she uses three of them. This game begins to make a lot of sense. Obviously, whoever runs out of chips first loses, making the other person the automatic winner. Not so. You have to win four games in a row in order to win the jackpot.

Four games in a row? Statistically, this game could go on forever. I'm glad Nick mentioned that it'd go on for months, otherwise I'd go crazy. If I was a game show fan, that is. Which I'm not.

So, Matt wins the first round. He can now choose his next opponent. Unsurprisingly, he goes for the young attractive woman. She is Sherise, a flight attendant. The game is over quite quickly, with an odd moment where Sherise seems pretty happy to think that having a knowledge of the Sugababes is more worthwhile than knowing what 7 x 6 is. Then again, she is a flight attendant.

Luckily, after Matt wins two games in a row, he's given two options: keep playing for the grand total jackpot prize, or walk away with £10,000. At this point, orchestral music is used for dramatic effect... quick camera shots of Matt's face and the cash prize are juxtaposed. Anticlimactically, Matt takes his prize and walks off apathetically, leaving Nick Hancock to quickly announce the winner of the first episode.

I left it at that point. When I noticed that what was happening was the same thing over and over again, my brain switched off. I also realised that for a high-stakes fast-paced quiz show, only eight questions were asked. Why can't TV quiz shows be about questions anymore? I miss Wipeout.

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