Bullseye: Insert Hilarious Catchphrase Here
Bullseye on ITV1, with Peter Kay? Or Bullseye on Challenge, with Dave Spikey? The former would have inflicted groans in me - over-produced in a flashy studio several times the size of the old show, with the game being secondary to Peter Kay fucking about. The fact they went with the latter, however, induced the hope that the might not fuck it up after all. And not fucking old shows up is a rarity these days.
Mind you, come the start, it was actually a shock to see the new title sequence. It was obvious that they would go for the nostalgia element - but I didn't realise that they would recreate the titles quite so closely. And yet, and yet... it is slightly baffling how Central in the mid-eighties on a low-budget show actually managed far better quality animation. And as for the music... it's the same music, in the same style, but re-recorded - and again, not quite as well. Why bother? Why not just save some money and go for the old music, if that's exactly what you want anyway?
A word about Bully, whilst we're at it - I don't like the redesign at all. I can't quite decide whether it's purely the new look I don't like, or whether it's the poor animation (which continues throughout the series, incidentally) - but again, it smacks of fiddling with something for the sake of fiddling with it.
Even more worrying, we got clapping all over the titles. Yes, I know it's nostalgia, and all that - but to do that kind of thing brings you right out of the reality of the show, and just overtly reminds you that IT'S IRONICAL, YEAH. As soon as you do things like that, you wreck the feeling of the show completely.
But on to the new studio. And here, they've got it right. It's not an exact copy, but it didn't need to be - you've got Bully on the walls, with lovely Central neon lighting that they used for everything back in the 80s - and a lovely new element in the dartboard-style floor and doors. Pretty much perfect, to be honest. It's also the right size - around the same as the later Bullseye studio. The atmosphere would have been completely wrecked if they'd gone big and glitzy. As indeed, it was last year in Gameshow Marathon.
As for Spikey - he is, in a word, fine. He doesn't get in the way of the game, he does his job, he's quite funny - and that's all we really need. He's clearly being careful not to let his personality override the gameshow element, which is to be applauded. Good work.
The gameplay is identical to the later Bullseye series - with the exception that the bullseye is worth £150 rather than £200, and there are a few different categories on the category board - neither of which makes any difference. (So little difference, in fact, that you wonder why they bothered changing it at all.) It is notable that the general standard of play was pretty poor in this first show - but as it varied on the old show, I'd want to watch a few more episodes before reading too much into that.
A word about the scoreboards, however - redesign them. Please. They're themed around a dartboard motif, but unfortunately, it's so cluttered, and the actual numbers so small, that it's difficult to see at a glance how people are doing. I'm amazed that the show got on to air with this problem, and is a fundamental mistake for a gameshow to make. Disappointing. The rest of the graphics in general, though, were great - I must say, I've never smiled so much before at a blue rectangle.
Exceedingly irritatingly, during the Pounds for Points round, there isn't the three bits of music - it's just the one, repeating each time. It may sound a small thing if you're not familiar with the show, but oddly enough, it has a major effect on the feel of the round. This needs recitifying immediately. And again, the new music just doesn't sound as good as the original - why not just go back to the original tapes and save yourselves a few bob if you don't want anything new?
The prize board as expected was great fun - but yet again, there's a problem. Spikey's descriptions were funny, and not too far removed from the spirit of the original either (it didn't sound like a parody, which would have been the danger) - but unfortunately, we got pretty much constant audience laughter over it. Which again, brings you out of the game, and reminds you that you're watching an ever-so-slightly ironic revival. Not needed. And also brings the longevity of the show into question - treat it like a gameshow and this could run for a while. Treat it as an ironic revival, and it won't make it past this series. The nostalgia element works as read - you don't need to refer to it. Having said all of that, I'm surprised they resisted giving a speedboat away for the first episode.
I don't mean to sound too critical. The show has obviously been made with a lot of love, and more importantly - it's still fun to watch. They've resisted the urge to fiddle with the game itself, which is great - it still works today as well as it ever has. And it isn't a complete disaster on the whole ironic front. Fix the problems I've mentioned above, and this could run for a while...