Win the Week is back – okay, it was back last week, but we figured we’d give it a little more time to become a little less shit. Time well spent? Yeah, nah.
Hosted by Alex Lee and with The Chaser‘s Craig Reucassel as a series regular, this is a show where three contestants “go head to head in a battle of news knowledge”. Only for some reason the show starts with a quiz-off to find out who gets first pick of the celebrities who they’ll be partnering with, which in a half hour show feels a little indulgent until you realise that, like every single other ABC panel show in living memory, it’s all about the celebrities.
Let’s put it this way: it takes three and a half minutes – over 10% of the episode – to get the show to the point where it can actually begin to be a quiz show. They’re still doing a quiz, only the prize is that at the end you get to start the “real” quiz. Gripping viewing!
After two weeks it’s clear that, beyond the now extra pointless opening, the “exciting changes to the format” we were promised are pretty much limited to now being able to betray your quiz partner at any time, AKA the most minor and meaningless change possible. Because everything else here was working so well the first time?
To be fair, this year’s Win the Week has addressed a few of the problems of last year’s model. The show moves a little faster, the focus is more on the quiz (early on) or on celebrity banter (later on), and getting rid of the regular betray slot removes one of the show’s major speed bumps. But it’s still basically the same show, which…
Look, it takes a lot for us to feel nostalgic for Hard Quiz, mostly because there’s only a few weeks each year without a new episode of Hard Quiz. But at least that’s a quiz show that’s just a quiz show: we’re still not quite sure what the hell Win the Week is trying to be.
Haha only joking: like we said earlier, it’s a celebrity showcase. The whole “you can ditch your celebrity partner” angle – which adds almost nothing to the show for the home viewer; the celebrity is still on screen, just in a slightly different position – is designed to keep the spotlight on the celebrity at all times. And what do they do with that spotlight?
Not a whole lot, because it’s still technically a serious quiz show, so they’re either seriously answering a question or making apologies for not being able to seriously answer a question. There are some jokes – after a reference to Earth having it’s shortest day ever, Reucassel said “ahh, so that’s why I didn’t get anything done” – but HYBPA? and The Cheap Seats have already done two hours of news gear by Wednesday, you’ve got to do better than that to get a laugh.
Of course someone hits the betray button ten minutes in, because if they don’t what’s the point? And maybe we missed something, but now if you decide to betray your partner you can just pick a better one and the person with the better one is shit out of luck? How is that fair*? Fingers crossed there’s an upcoming episode where everyone is desperately trying to get the one super-smart celebrity and there’s fifteen betrayals in twenty minutes.
The games are your standard news quiz stuff while the banter between the celebrities – and only the celebrities are allowed to banter really – is fine, but not something you’d pay for. And in an attention economy, every second you spend watching this is a second you’re not maximising the value of by watching something better. Any episodes of The Einstein Factor up on YouTube?
The real question behind all this is, why is this prime time viewing? This is the kind of show that should be on at 6pm every weeknight to an audience of comatose pensioners sleeping off their dinners. It’s literally just a collection of facts from the week’s news phrased as questions, delivered to the kind of celebrities often found hanging around the ABC canteen.
There’s nothing going on here that makes it worth an 8pm timeslot on what used to be the national broadcaster’s strongest night of programming. Win the Week? As far as ratings goes, looks like the ABC have already given up.
*in the earlier version, you had to be coming last to betray your quiz partner; we’re not sure if that’s still the case, or if there’s now any kind of limit on how many times you can betray the person next to you (the old version had specific moments for betrayal, so there were set limits)