I’m going to try something a little bit differently for my quick reviews. This week, I am introducing my brand new “Rapid Reviews” article which briefly analyses a series of new game shows instead from developed a verbose review for each program. Today’s article takes a look at CBS’s Million Dollar Mile, Comedy Central UK’s Blockbusters, and the BBC’s Catchpoint and WonderBall. You can also take a look at an episode of each show by clicking on the title.
About a minute into checking out the premiere episode of the new series developed by LeBron James, Million Dollar Mile instantly reminded me of the futuristic 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man sans the sinister dystopian premise. Instead of watching a sadistic Richard Dawson at the helm, we have a chance to see former NFL player and minor league baseball player take the reins of this series with Maria Taylor and Matt Smith calling the action with their play-by-play commentary.
To win the million-dollar prize, contestants must complete a mile run containing five exhausting obstacles while attempting to outrun a Defender. Handicapped with a two-minute delayed start, Defenders are tried and tested superstar athletes whose claim to fame includes expertly completing lengthy and arduously tough obstacle course and long-distance running competitions. Every time a contestant completes an obstacle, they are awarded a cash amount ranging from $10,000-$250,000. If a contestant completes all five obstacles before the Defender catches up to them, they win $1 million. Otherwise, the contestant walks away with nothing unless (s)he has reached the guaranteed $50,000 level or decided to bail out and finish their run early after completing an obstacle.
This is a decent attempt by CBS to capitalize off other networks airing motivational athletic competition game shows such as American Ninja Warrior and its various spinoffs and The Titan Games. We have a chance to see several competitors fight their way through a challenging course that thoroughly tests their endurance, speed, strength and determination, earn a handsome instant payout and try to evade the persistent and tenacious Defenders hunting them down every step of the way. The Defenders may not be as gregarious, braggadocious or vociferous as the Gladiators on American Gladiators, but they have proven to be forces to be reckoned with and their exemplary physical prowess are not to be trifled with. Tebow does a good job of cheering on the contestants through their run while Taylor and Smith excellently keep the viewers and studio audience abreast of what’s going on in each race with their analysis.
CBS has not had good luck with game shows recently with predictable flops like Candy Crush and TKO: Total Knockout, and it seems like their bad luck will continue with this show since it has already been abruptly shoved to a Saturday primetime slot two episodes into its first season.
Rapid Review Score: 6/10
Prediction: Good, but not good enough for a renewal
Typically, I don’t officially review game shows if two revivals have been created within a few years of each other, like Challenge rebooting Blockbusters in 2012. However, I’m going to make a special exception for this show because it how much it differs from previous versions. I love how this rendition of Blockbusters integrates the right amount of here without jeopardizing the pace or intellectual integrity of the game. The Comedy Central UK edition has a more relaxed and casual few that is palatable or more audiences to enjoy and is much more engaging. The latter is exhibited through Dara O’Brien frequently comedically quipping with the contestants leading to noticeably more banter from them and the studio audience surrounding the main stage and being able to see them for the first time in the lengthy history of Blockbusters. This is an excellent revival of the classic competitive program properly modified for millennial audiences. I love how unique this version is by inserting its own unique elements such as the tense one-question tie breaker, hiding a mystery prize within one of the letters on the hexagonal game board during the front game and allowing contestants to bring in their own “mascots” like on the original version of Blockbusters and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.
Quick Overall Score: 9/10
Prediction: G for Give this show a second series
I was largely unimpressed with this new BBC show after watching the first episode. One paper and while watching the first few minutes of the show, the remise is unique and holds up o game show that tests your mental ability and physical agility by attempting to catch balls of varying sizes within the area of the correct answers to a series of trivia questions. Diving further into the half-hour show, Catchpoint seems to devolve into a frantic game of catch with little regard to actually trying to thoughtfully figure out the question’s answers. Although there are spurts of suspense and excitement — as you may have seen in the first episode with the winning team catching the £10,000 golden ball — and Paddy McGuinness is a solid, energetic host, Catchpoint can get rather dull and redundant surprisingly quickly.
Rapid Review Score: 6/10
Prediction: One & Done
Speaking of bad BBC game shows, this is another one that falls within the category. This is truly one of the more uninteresting lottery-based game show I have ever seen. The game flow is disappointingly sluggish, similar to the slow and agonizing pace of Letterbox. Even the contestants look like they aren’t fully enjoying themselves competing on the show.
Here’s how the game works: Three pairs of teams are assigned five numbered balls which re inserted into a hopper along with three Danger balls. The goal is for a team to have one of their balls drawn last as the WonderBall to win £2,000. To improve their chances, they must avoid answering questions incorrectly to keep their balls in play and get rid of their opponents’ balls, quickly eliminate the Danger balls to ensure it won’t be the last ball drawn in the game, and prevent themselves from succumbing to temptation by selling one or more of their balls for offers ranging from £100 to £300. If a sold ball or a Danger ball is drawn as the WonderBall, no one wins the £2,000 top prize.
The only respectable aspects of the show are the medium-level line of questions, host Catriona Shearer and losing teams may stay for a maximum of two shows like Pointless.