Monday 19 October 2009

Pointless- The show that lives up to its name

For those of you who don't know, Pointless is a relatively new quiz show on the United Kingdom's BBC network. It's hosted by Alexander Armstrong, formerly part of the Armstrong and Miller comedy duo popular in the UK in the late 1990s. Nice to know that he's gone on to bigger and better things in subsequent years, eh? Going from being part of a promising comedy tag team to hosting the subject of a twenty-five year old web journalist's scorn.

To the show!
Pointless pits five teams of two against each other. Here's where the show's concept is supposed to differentiate this show from all the other dross on a weekday afternoon on the BBC. The aim of Pointless is to be the team that scores the LOWEST score at the end of the round. Innovation HO!

Now, how do they attain the lowest score, I hear you ask? Well, the solution is quite simple and ingenious in its design. The teams are given a category that can be anything from "West End Musicals" to "Countries beginning with C". The makers of the show (who by now are probably riding around in a gold BMW powered by the tears of the intelligent) send people out to survey one hundred random members of the general public about these categories, and said members of the public have one hundred seconds to name as many as they can.

The teams are then encouraged to try and think of the answers that nobody said out of the survey group. Now, I don't know about you, and maybe I'm being a little bit cynical, but I think there's a fundemental flaw there. They ask TEN people to choose answers that ONE HUNDRED people couldn't think of in TEN THOUSAND combined seconds. I suspect that the programme makers didn't factor this in when considering the selection criteria for the show.

As if being unable to think of the "Pointless" answers wasn't enough, the teams then have to suffer the added indignity of dealing with the show's obnoxious co-host Richard Osman, a man who suffers from possibly one of the worst cases of Polygonal Head Syndrome I've ever seen.

Osman's job on the show, it turns out, is to break down the category's aim for the apparently stupid contestants. In an episode, I heard him describe the category "Films directed by Woody Allen" as 'here, we were looking for films where Woody Allen is credited as the director'. What stunning fucking insight, Osman! Here I was thinking that when you were asking for films directed by Woody Allen, you were actually asking us to describe the events depicted on the Bayeaux Tapestry from left to right!

As well as not factoring in the obvious design flaw, the programme makers obviously haven't considered the possibility of asking INTELLIGENT people in their survey audience. I saw an episode recently (this is no word of a lie by the way, this actually happened) and the category was "Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals". The couple's first guess was "CATS"! Oh, what, that really obscure one? I had forgotten all about it, but then for the sake of irony I'd forgotten the words to "Memory" (Frasier gags FTW).

Not to worry though, the survey portion leaves plenty of room for the contestants to get unexpected pointless answers. In a particular episode I watched, the category was "Harry Potter and Narnia books", and only about fifty per cent of people surveyed seemed to be able to actually name any Harry Potter or Narnia books. Sounds mental, does it not? Well, if you think that sounds too crazy to be true, think again, I have better.

In a survey conducted for an episode I watched, one hundred people were surveyed to ask them how many characters they could name from the famous Shakespeare work Macbeth. Of those one hundred people surveyed, in one hundred seconds, only fourty per cent of those people were able to provide the name "Macbeth" as a guess.
I can only assume that they assumed that saying the name "Macbeth" would bring bad luck to the person asking the question. These people, incidentally, think that there is a character named "Twelfth Night"...

In Hamlet.

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