Game shows are one of the few formats that can withstand being rebooted. Some people might even argue that game show reboots are becoming necessary, given the calibre of new ideas being farted out onto the screen. For every Pointless, there’s Dale’s All Star Celebrity Family Kerplunk On Fire (actually I’d watch that).
There are certain shows that could make up a stellar, unbeatable game show line-up, and they should all be brought back immediately. Some brave souls have tried to bring some of these shows back, with varying degrees of success. In some cases perhaps the execution needed a bit of tweaking, but the decision to reboot was the right one.
When a channel fails to successfully bring a game show back from the dead, there might just be some minor changes needed with the formula. Not to worry, because I am here to provide these suggested changes, so we can all go back to watching 3-2-1 and Bullseye like civilized people, without having to rely on charity ‘nostalgia’ specials.
Here, then, are four game shows that are due for second go (or maybe a third or fourth go), and what those in charge could do to shoot the show to the top of the ratings. If the viewers consisted of me and no one else.
I know there was an ill-fated reboot of this darts classic not too long ago, but let’s face it, they could have done better. It came across as an exercise in how many sneering, irony loving people you could fit in one room. Dave Spikey, a usually excellent host, let the side down with his openly finding the whole concept hilarious from start to finish. Even Tony Green couldn’t salvage it.
Bullseye is not meant to be self-aware. It’s meant to be a light hearted darts quiz show, with prizes ranging from shit to brilliant. What it’s not meant to be is a vehicle for the ‘oh look, weren’t things rubbish back then’ brigade. It’s one thing to make jokes about the original Bullseye being a bit shoddy compared to modern standards, but what we need to remember is that, back in the day, it was one of the most popular shows on tv, and a reboot should be treated with the same care.
Sky One have in relatively recent times had their own crack at a darts game show with One Hundred And Eighty. It wasn’t a terrible effort, but could in no way compete with Bullseye. However, they did get the level of spectacle required for modern darts spot on, which is what should happen with a Bullseye reboot. It should be glitz and big prizes these days. Back in the 80s, darts might still have been a relatively obscure game, but now it attracts big numbers, on a par with boxing or wrestling, or watching a fight outside a pub.
One suggestion would be to pair up a single contestant with a famous darts player, in the manner of One Hundred And Eighty or Big Break. However, that would wipe out the possibility of watching people play rubbish darts, which was half the fun of Bullseye. Let’s face it, when they had terrible hair you wanted them to miss.
Here’s how you redo Bullseye –
1: Keep the prizes good (they were good in the 80s). Where you previously won a speedboat, you now need to win a house, or a small town.2: If anyone starts clapping along to the theme tune in an ironic manner, chop their arms off and throw them out of the studio.3: Get a host who will not take the piss out of it being Bullseye, before the show has even had a chance to defend itself. Someone human and a bit eccentric, like Jim Bowen. Chris Kamara, if he could be lured away from football and Ninja Warrior, would be ideal. Although I am also keeping him for my Gladiators reboot, so there might be a scheduling conflict.4: The pair with the lowest score at the end of round 1 has to stand in front of the dartboard for the whole of round 2.
The game show with a script written by Escher, contestants generally needed a Cryptography degree to win on 3-2-1. The show’s legendary ‘clues’ gave the contestant, at best, a tenuous link to the prize on offer.
I did actually solve one of the clues on 3-2-1 once, before they read the answer out. That is how my brain works. Sometimes I imagine my brain as being like some kind of steam powered cuckoo clock.
Here’s a typical 3-2-1 clue. I asked my colleague and servant Alex Carter to write one, because he’s strange and he does things like that.
“Clue object: a brick
‘Falling on hard times, it’s never a breezePick this prize to put you at ease.’
Now, falling on hard times might make you think this is an austere prize, but listen to the second part, ‘it’s never a breeze.’ And what might make you never need a breeze? Perhaps you might be thinking something to help you in bad weather, or maybe something that makes a breeze for you? So it could be the fan, or the tumble dryer. Don’t forget though, the clue is a brick. And then there’s that second line, about putting you at ease, so what could be easier than turning on a tumble dryer? Turning on the TV to see a programme about the exotic destination you could be going to. Maybe somewhere in Central America! That’s right! It’s this set of his and hers panama hats!”
Clearly the first thing you need to do for a reboot is get Alex to write the questions. And God help you if you don’t enjoy references to 2001: A Space Odyssey and darts.
As for the variety part, there are loads of talented young acts struggling to get a break, and it will offer a path to TV exposure that doesn’t involve promising your soul to Simon Cowell (is he still going?)
Also, since bins are becoming illegal (I think), a more acceptable booby prize might now be Dusty recycling box, or Dusty waste disposal unit. And Dusty Bin needs to be a vegan, because people are now.
One of the most infamous reboots in my head, it is one of life’s great tragedies that Gladiators 2008 didn’t take off. The love was there but the space wasn’t, and as a result the show was filmed in something the size of a shoebox. This made the events unintentionally hilarious, as people in leotards jostled for space instead of hitting each other with stuff. But even though the creators’ hearts were in the right place, they never quite nailed the correct tone.
The original show was all about fun, and promoting fitness to kids in an entertaining way. Bright colours, thumping rock music and cheesy grins everywhere you looked. These were the elements that made the original so loved, so it goes without saying that you’d bring these things into the reboot.
Clearly, what the producers of the 2008 reboot learned from watching the original was that everyone loved Jet, therefore, there should be loads of female hot ones. That’s how we ended up with Inferno, Tempest, and Atlas.
But that, to me, was where the similarities ended. The reboot screamed ‘edgy’ and ‘gritty’, from the wailing theme tune to everything being on fire. And that’s before I get on to the barefooted, identikit gladiators, whose only personality trait appeared to be that they were psychopaths. The exception, of course, was Oblivion, who had a bloody good go at being the new Wolf. Sadly he failed, on account of how Wolf is Wolf, therefore no one else can ever be Wolf. But a gold star for effort nonetheless. I’ll rethink my position if I ever see Oblivion on Celebrity Squares (but not as his wrestling alter ego Magnus, because that would be cheating).
How to reboot Gladiators properly: Do it exactly like the original, and do it in the Birmingham NIA. But keep making everything be on fire. I did like that part. Maybe there’s also some room for more realistic gladiators to inspire the kids. Kids today might be intimidated by endless supermen, and might benefit from a more relatable hero. Kay Burley would make a good gladiator, along with Ant and Dec as one really tall guy in a big overcoat.
Also, instead of making them crash through paper or foam blocks at the end, make them crash through concrete, that’s on fire.
The Generation Game
I think this generation is the first one in recorded history to not have a version of The Generation Game to watch. I think it’s high time they brought the show back in order to give this generation something to do other than tweeting bollocks and trying to know about politics. A night spent watching someone attempt to do basket weaving with their mum is just what they need.
In the 80s and 90s, everyone took it in turns to present this show, a bit like jury service. I don’t remember all the hosts, just Bruce Forsyth, Jim Davidson, and Sinead O’ Connor. These light entertainment behemoths would regularly shout at ‘members of the public’ as they failed to do pottery without reigniting the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Tension was the key to The Generation Game. Will they complete the task, or just fall over then laugh? Will the old contestant die from having to do the Lambada? How many items from the conveyor belt will they remember?
Which brings me onto the conveyor belt (seamless). I think the general idea was that one of the contestants sat in an Index Catalogue seconds factory, and had to name the products as they went by.
Of course, one item appeared every week and became a national institution. That’s right: the Stanley Knife! Just kidding. Everyone knows it was a shit teddy. The downside to this was that the shit teddy ended up being the only one anyone could ever remember, so The Generation Game was the place to be if you desperately needed a shit teddy and didn’t have one.
Rebooting The Generation Game:
1: Make the conveyor belt go at 150 mph.2: Nicolas Cage to host the show, and to hold the contestants at gunpoint while they do the tasks. Bonus points if the task for that week is roundhouse kicking.3: Nicolas Cage to wear a bikini while hosting.4: Decent prizes on the conveyor belt. Shit teddies are all very well, but to really ramp up the tension, there needs to be an unexploded bomb (complete with big LED timer), and a ransom note on there. Also a set of pans. People love winning pans.