Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dumb and dumbing down

Having appeared on several quiz shows, I know how memory starts to melt under the studio lights. Small Boo delights in reminding me that it was the Jackson 5 who sang on Stevie Wonder's 'You Haven't Done Nothing', and that sharks are cartilaginous (two facts that succumbed to on-air Footman brainfarts).

So I was inclined to be sympathetic to Simon Curtis when I read that he'd scored a record one point in his specialist round on Mastermind. I'll admit to an involuntary sniff of derision when I saw that he'd chosen The Films Of Jim Carrey as his subject, but what the hell, knowledge is knowledge, yeah? At least he's not like one of those pneumatic C-listers who choose subjects like Those Shoes That Courtney Cox Was Wearing In That Episode Of Friends That Was On Last Night, Or Was It The Night Before? And Carrey's actually made about three decent films, which is pretty good going for a mainstream Hollywood star. And then I read Mr Curtis's explanation for what went wrong:

"I like Jim Carrey films but I think the mistake I made was not watching them again. John Humphrys ended up asking me about things in the movies rather than simply black-and-white facts so I was stumped."

So... the problem was... let me get my head round this... the problem was that you decided to answer questions about The Films Of Jim Carrey, but didn't bother to watch any of The Films Of Jim Carrey, so when Humphrys asked you about The Films Of Jim Carrey, it all went horribly wrong. And what are these "things in the movie" (presumably plot details, lines of dialogue, character names and so on) if they're not "black-and-white facts"? It's a quiz show, not a forum for postmodernist japery.

What's disturbing is that Curtis managed to make it to the semi-final. He won the first round thanks to his knowledge of The Jam, a feat that, presumably, he managed without listening to any of the records. He just read a couple of old Smash Hits interviews and looked at a picture of Bruce Foxton for a few minutes.

Also... Small Boo once said of me: "He can write about anything except golf." HA!


patroclus said...

I think you should consider 'It's a forum for postmodernist japery' as a potential tagline for Cultural Snow.

First Nations said...

two minds!

Molly Bloom said...

Oh Lordi..his first mistake was to watch a Jim C film. Oh God..don't let me say that name.

I almost admire his gall though! It's like those kids that go into an exam without having even read the text and bunk lessons and get a U and feel crushed and say, ' were a crap teacher.'

Molly Bloom said...

Viconian cycle:the cyclical theory of history proposed by Giambattista Vico, the 18th-century Neapolitan philosopher, in "Principles of a New Science" (1721), which most readers have come to know from the circular superstructure it provides for Joyce's "Finnegans Wake."

Hee heexxx

Tim Footman said...

Actually, I'm wondering about whether to dump the postmodernist in favour of nob gags. Any opinions?

Molly: Truman Show... Man In The Moon... Eternal Sunshine... It's not all bad.

Doesn't that second comment go on the previous post?

Joel said...

Kindly furnish an inventory of all the quiz shows you have been on to satisfy my curiosity.

Tim Footman said...

University Challenge (with Bamber)
Mastermind (with Magnus - get well, soon, MM)
BackDate (with Valerie Singleton)
Win Beadle's Money
Stakeout (pilot)
Beat The Nation (pilot)
The Weakest Link
Brain of Britain

And, no, I never did 15 to 1 or Blockbusters, and despite my efforts, I've never made it to Millionaire.

Joel said...

Your starter for ten: Why isn't this blog called 'Quiz Pro Quo- Confessions of a Question Addict!' with a nice big picture of you in a question mark jumper giving a double thumbs up?

Tim Footman said...

Because I haven't done any telly for about 5 years, and because I never dressed like that (or wore a bow-tie). When I get back to England I might start again. I quite fancy a University Challenge special between bloggers and the anti-blog hacks (Street-Porter, Dejevsky, Alibai-Brown, etc). Does anyone have any contacts at Granada?

If you want a serious quiz blog, go here.

Joel said...

I'm not looking for a serious quiz blog right now. I've just got out of one.

patroclus said...

>>I quite fancy a University Challenge special between bloggers and the anti-blog hacks (Street-Porter, Dejevsky, Alibai-Brown, etc). Does anyone have any contacts at Granada?<<

Fuck Granada. Let's film it in grainy Super8 and broadcast it on YouTube.

Can I be in the team? I always feel enormously cheated that my university days coincided with the years University Challenge wasn't on.

patroclus said...

Also, I was going to pretend to be all like 'that don't impress me much' about your TV quiz experiences, Tim, but I can't do it. I'm in AWE. You are a TV quiz GOD! Did you win anything?

Tim Footman said...

Won Weakest Link, BackDate and Defectors (which was on Challenge TV... the shame...) Got to the quarter-finals of Univ Challenge and semis of Brain of Britain.

Should I put this on my CV, d'you reckon?

Spinsterella said...

I applied to be on Blockbusters. Didn't get anywhere.


Anonymous said...

I was in a pub quiz league, we were good but we kept getting beaten by taxi drivers. They're hard to beat those taxi drivers.
Never been on University Challange but the college did have a punt named Bamber which was bought from the proceeds of one successful series.

Billy said...

Brian of Britain? Now there's a quiz show. If only you'd been on 15-to-1, I used to love that show.

By the way, I can't offer much postmodern japary, but I am working on making my exclamation marks more postmodern.

Billy said...

Oooh by the way, I really liked Man in the Moon, didn't like the Truman Show that much. Would probably love Eternal Sunshine.

If Bill Hicks was "Chomsky with dick gags" who would you be?

Billy said...

I've just noticed I typed Brian of Britain.

*runs off sobbing*

Tim Footman said...

Spin: I always liked the slightly strained between-round chats that Holness had with the kids. Like when he asked one of the rare black contestants whether he played drums. You can take the game show host out of South Africa...

Doc: Taxi drivers know fucking everything. Security guards are also pretty hardcore, and I don't know why there aren't more of them on Mastermind. One place where I worked, the security guy read Nietzsche.

Billy: I see myself as the Baudrillard of the Northern working men's clubs. "My mother-in-law doesn't exist." That sorta thing.

Brian of Britain did actually make it to pilot stage. Brian Blessed beat Brian the Irish gayer off of Big Brother by a nose, after Brian Mawhinney was disqualified for doping.

Molly Bloom said...

I see myself as the Baudrillard of the Northern working men's clubs. "My mother-in-law doesn't exist." That sorta thing.


I'll be a Gilbert and Gubar reject.

All those TV shows? Did you have a beard then? Or a roll-neck jumper. I'd be so impressed if you wore a roll-neck jumper on a quiz show. That means you've *truly* made it as a quiz show contestant.

Can I have your autograph?

patroclus said...

You WON the Weakest Link? Wait till I tell my mother about this.

Also, 'my mother-in-law doesn't exist' made me laugh a lot.

Tim Footman said...

Molly: I had a goatee (sad, but true) when I did BackDate. The warm-up man was Ted (brother of Kate) Robbins, perhaps best known as the singer in Creme Brulee, the band in The League Of Gentlemen. He bounced on, saw me, and said to the audience of captive grannies "Doesn't he look like Trotsky?" I was miked up, so I replied "And you look like Krushchev." He was a bit thrown; the one alleged advantage of doing warmup for TV shows (think Bobby Chariot) is that you don't get heckled.

I've never done roll-necks, although as the boundary between my chin and my neck begins to lose its definition, maybe I should.

Patroclus: But surely winning The Weakest Link is a mixed blessing - it means you're OK, but not brilliant enough to threaten the others and thus get voted off. It's a show that rewards mediocrity. (Although one woman did vote against me on the grounds, "He thinks he knows it all." which I thought was a bit odd - who sort of people go in for game shows convinced of their own ignorance?)

Molly Bloom said...

Oh, I'm glad that you had a goatee. That is brilliant. I wish it had been a full on beard...but a goatee will do me fine.

I think that is really funny what that woman said. She is the sort of person who says, 'It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts.' And then bitches about the person who won and spits fire in The Green Room.

It's not about the taking *is* about the winning. I wish someone would say that. Next time you go on a quiz show, will you do that for me?

Molly Bloom said...

How did you get to go on so many though? I'm intrigued...

Do they have quiz shows over there where you are?

Dave Hill said...

I knew that about the Jackson 5. I even have the (vinyl) Wonder album the track's on - Fullfulligness' First Finale - next to my elderly record deck. A highly underrated work, by the way. I could bore for Britain about it, actually....

Tim Footman said...

Molls: I will try. On-air interjections are often ruthlessly pruned. They say they want "characters" but within very tight parameters.

As for getting on so many... I just applied for auditions as they came up. But after a while, your name gets onto a database, and they phone you up. That's how I got to film a couple of pilots, which is fun, because there's no serious competition between the contestants. They usually pay you as well, and give you a bonus if you win.

They do have quiz shows here... they had the Weakest Link for a while, but they pulled it, because rudeness and sarcasm is v un-Thai. And they have some OK pub quizzes too.

Dave: Anyone who can bore for Britain about a subject should go on Mastermind. "Stevie Wonder, before he got shite" would be a great subject.