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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Across The Pond and Beyond: Small Talk

You know, I've always been fascinated by game shows and quiz shows.  From an early age, I can remember always being fascinated by such shows as Jeopardy, Wheel Of Fortune, The Price Is Right, Family Feud, and Press Your Luck. 
(Although the last one was because of those delightful little whammy creatures.)

The point is that whenever a game show was on, I would always be glued to the television.  As I alluded to in the entry for Wheel Of Fortune that I did last month, one of the things that is on my bucket list is to appear on a television game show of some sort.  I don't even need to win (though it would be nice).  I just want the chance to go on one.

Game shows can be funny shows in that people can experience every sense of emotion when one tunes into them.  They can cheer right along with the contestant for winning $100,000 on Wheel Of Fortune's bonus round.  They can make a home viewer laugh every time a contestant tries to bear hug Drew Carey (or Bob Barker in the olden days) on The Price Is Right.  They can make a person feel terrible for the person who missed winning Family Feud fast money by seven points.  They can even make a person feel smarter after a contestant misses the first question on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'

A whole mixed bag of emotions comes with the territory of watching a game show, but for those of us who may be lucky to have been on a game show, I can only imagine how much greater those emotions can be.

In some ways, watching a game show is similar to watching a soap opera, or a really exciting movie.  There's a whole bunch of twists and turns, and you never know how it's going to end.  Sometimes, the endings are satisfyingly happy, and people walk away with enough money to change their lives.  Sometimes, the endings are sad, where contestants end up with nothing but a copy of the home version of the board game based on the show.

At least, that's definitely what I think about game shows.

Some of the more interesting game shows that I've seen are ones that originated in the United Kingdom, because in many cases, a lot of them ended up on American television.  Two I can name right off the bat are Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Weakest Link.  I think that a lot of the ideas for the game shows there were so unique, and so interesting to watch that I couldn't help but do my blog entry for today on one of these shows.

I first began watching this show on the Canadian cable channel YTV.  A lot of the shows that YTV aired on late nights and weekends were from overseas, so we got a lot of British, Irish, and Australian programming.  The quiz show that I am featuring is one that could be classified as a peculiar hybrid of 'Hollywood Squares', 'To Tell The Truth', and 'Kids Say The Darndest Things'.  Yet, it was a combination that made for an entertaining show that originally ran from 1994-1996 on BBC1.

Hosted by Ronnie Corbett, the show Small Talk debuted on July 24, 1994.  The premise of the show was that you had three contestants trying to predict whether a group of nine or ten schoolchildren knew the correct answers to a question asked of them by the host of the show.  They would win points based on how correct they were, and the person with the most points got the chance to play in the bonus round for the chance to win cash and prizes.

It was a simple question/answer game, but it was so much more than that.

For starters, each of the contestants had to decide whether the majority of the children knew the correct answer to the question.  If they believed it, they would say yes.  If not, they would say no.  When the answer was revealled, those who got the correct answer would get ten points right off the bat.  Then, each of the contestants would be set loose on the puzzle board, selecting a child, and deciding whether the child was right or wrong in answering the question.  If they were right, more points would be added to the total.  And, as you'll see, some of the children's answers range from slightly incorrect to a massive gigantic blooper!

In round two, the rules were exactly the same as round one, only the points were of greater value.

Now, after this round, the contestant who had the lowest score in the game was unfortunately asked to leave the show, and the top two competitors were allowed to play.  Each question was worth 40 points, and the question round was more of a head-to-head competition.  The one left with the most points at the end of the round would play the bonus round.

When we got to the final bonus round, the contestant would have to select five different children from the board.  Each child had a point value that ranged in between 50 and 500 points.  The children were asked questions, and the contestant as always had to guess whether the child knew the answer or didn't know.  If they got the answer correct, they won the points.  The object was to get over 500 points to win the grand prize.  If they did not get 500 points, they would get one pound per point minus the amount of points needed to win.

That last one I had to post the link on, as YouTube was being kind of tempermental with me.

The point is that the show was a cute little game show that I found myself strangely glued to.  It proved that little schoolchildren from Britain had an interesting way of looking at the world, and honestly, if more shows could showcase the innocence and thought-processes of little kids in such a manner, I think it would make television a lot more fun.

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