The Chase: Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on GSN
It’s August, the time of year in which the metaphorical new show faucet slows to a trickle. One of the perks of this, however, is that I get to diverge from my regular new TV diet of sitcoms, dramas, and cheap reality shows and look into areas that I don’t necessarily get to give my full attention to. This is particularly evident this week, as this week I instead look in on the debut of some new British TV as well as tonight’s show, which also happens to be a show adapted from across the pond.
The Chase is adapted from the British game show of the same name. Teams of three contestants build a large cash pot by answering a series of rapid fire questions. The contestants then each put their share of the pot on the line against a trivia ringer referred to as “the Chaser” (in this case, Mark “The Beast” Labbett). From there it becomes a race against both time and the Chaser as the contestants look to protect their money as a team in the final chase, with failure to do so costing the team its’ bank.
Brooke Burns, of Dog Eat Dog fame emcees the proceedings with a surprisingly high amount of enthusiasm, something that’s fairly welcome in a world where many such hosts of recent vintage have seemed fairly wooden (Apolo Ohno and Dylan Lane are the worst offenders). Her reaction to some of the more ridiculous questions (most notably that asked: during the Vietnam War which country was headed by a Ho?) seem to allow for her personality to break through, adding a little spontaneity to the proceedings. Unfortunately, her chemistry with the Beast feels off, as her retorts to Labbett’s zingers feel a little forced.
The Beast seems to work as an affable villain, talking just the right level of smack to have you root for the contestants while being just likable enough that one doesn’t feel compelled to change the channel. He also clearly knows his stuff, as even his misses have a certain clear logic that seems familiar to anyone whom has ever taken a scan-tron style test in their lives. The first episode seems to imply that the Beast is his own oddsmaker, as he put much sharper odds on our third contestant, putting 20,000 more on the long path than against a prior contestant.
For those of you who prefer hard quizzers along the lines of Jeopardy!, this show doesn’t necessarily show the same degree of difficulty, but is still suitably difficult enough to play along with. Additionally, the game avoids the painfully slow pace of most of the post-Millionaire era contemporary quizzers (i’m looking at you Greed, and Deal or No Deal) instead moving at a much more rapid clip. Unfortunately, the contestant pool in our first episode seems woefully unaware of contemporary pop culture, missing obvious questions about such fairly well known shows as Breaking Bad, and equally well known musicians such as Katy Perry.
One minor gripe that I can’t get let go of are the buzzer noises in the final chase. Would it really have killed the producers to just let the contestants verbally jump in as opposed to the obnoxious announcer voice announcing the name of the contestant buzzing in?
The Final Verdict: The game show junkie in me couldn’t be happier that this show is on the air. In a TV environment where the only real game shows on TV (or for that matter most of GSN’s original lineup) are either long runners (The Price is Right), rehashes of older shows (Let’s Make A Deal, The Newlywed Game), or shows destined to fail (Take It All), The Chase is a breath of fresh air. It’s always a good sign when a show is renewed prior to it’s debut, and the first couple episodes of The Chase seem to justify this call. Check it out if you’re looking for something to watch, you won’t be disappointed.