A new game show format is always a difficult one. BBC1’s recent attempts Scare the Hare and Epic Win have fallen flatter than a collapse at a pancake factory. The last one I remember that worked was ITV1’s BAFTA winner and all round tension grabber The Cube. The Cube though wasn’t overly hyped and talked about before its premiere like ITV1’s latest brainwave Red or Black? Incase you were a bit slow on the uptake, and the appearances from Louis Walsh, Leona Lewis and One Direction weren’t a massive giveaway this is the latest money making idea from Simon Cowell. The premise is a simple one, contestants watch games and decide whether Red or Black will win. The games are so simple. Decide whether the detonator that will send David Hassellhoff hundreds of feet in the air is Red or Black.. Sod that just shoot him into the sky! Another “challenge” saw contestants forced to watch Leona Lewis perform her new single whilst her dancers swapped suitcases.
Ignoring all the plugs for other Simon Cowell productions the main problem with Red or Black was that it wasn’t interesting or engrossing enough for the viewer at home. It didn’t matter how much drama or dramatic music they used I still didn’t care either way whether the outcome was Red or Black. I could perhaps understand it was interesting or slightly exciting if you were playing the game yourself but as the 6million people who gave the first episode a chance weren’t it fell flat. The X Factor style sob stories from those taking part didn’t ingratiate them into my affections any further why should I care if they need a new fridge freezer or would like to take the family to America if they won the million pound prize.
Unlike the Cube, which is truly gripping watching the participants attempt what appear to be simple challenges and crumble under the pressure Red or Black requires no skill or tactics at all. If you taught a parrot to say Red and Black they would stand just as much chance at scooping the million as anyone on the panel. After years of the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent we’re all well aware of the production teams attempts to over dramatize situations but in the case of Red or Black there wasn’t enough going on to keep me watching.
If I was to over analyze the basis of the series further I could say that it sent out the message that gambling is OK and that anyone with the skill of distinguishing between two different colours could win but its not important what’s important is the fact that I’ll never get that initial 90mins back!
For some strange reason ITV have decided to dedicate an entire week of the Autumn schedule to this banal piece of Television but on the upside it means I can catch up on what the BBC and Channel 4 are offering.