Beat the Star

The set occasionally looks like Dancing with the Stars. The games are a cross between Minute to Win It and Gladiators. And the host is as slick as can be.

Beat the Star has arrived, with a pumped-up audience and $50,000 ready to give away.

Based on a German format (which was subsequently picked up in the UK), this one hour game show pits an ordinary family against a celebrity in a series of challenges, to see if they can rise to the occasion and win a swag of loot.

Along the way there will be flashy lights, exuberant participants, embarrassment, dramatic music, and jeopardy.

“This show will have you on the edge of your seat,” promises host Daniel MacPherson.

In the first episode the Morts, a family of four, will face My Kitchen Rules judge Manu Feildel (his name is incorrectly spelled as ‘Fidel’ on the opening credits, oops).

Feildel, we are told has previously trained in the circus, and is a chef “so he’s fiery.” The Morts, consisting of Dad, two teenage daughters and one son, will each have to face him in at least one of the eight challenges.

Each round is worth increasing points, starting with 1 pt and culminating in 8 pts. This cleverly throws some unpredictability into the scoring and the eventual outcome.

Mr. Mort faces off against Feildel for the first challenge, in which both are required to swing 360 degrees on an oversized swing. Mort is determined to win, admitting he is “part brave, part stupid.” Ahh Aussie self-irony.

Other challenges which will test Feildel (who is presumably risking his dignity and his favour with network execs) include shooting some soccer balls, a ‘highwire’ walk, a geography quiz, weighing salami and a rather unfortunately-titled game “Pea in a Bottle.”

Another test sees teams milking a live goat. The final challenge is the silliest of all -it involves a toaster.

Most are the kind of inconsequential-but-annoyingly-difficult challenges one might see on Minute to Win It. One or two require more physical dexterity.

As host, Daniel MacPherson never lets the ball drop. Having perfected his live hosting skills on Dancing with the Stars, this is a walk in the park. He knows exactly when to encourage the audience, prod the contestant for a emotional response and wring the show for drama even when there isn’t much to be wrung. His only danger is in over-hyping and over-exposure. Soon he could be knocking on Andrew O’Keefe’s door.

Like his other show, the star power promised for this series is pretty thin on the ground: Layne Beachley, Danny Green, Ada Nicodemou, Andrew Gaze. Nine went down the same road with celebs told to front up to Hole in the Wall. This show isn’t as silly as Nine’s, nor as wacky as Man O Man or It’s a Knockout. A sense of humour wouldn’t have gone astray here.

There’s not very much complex gameplay in this show and frankly, it is pretty brazen about that. Instead it is pitted fair and square at a broad family audience. But I wasn’t, as instructed, on the edge of my seat at any point. Note to self: buy a slimmer chair.

It’s also hard not to think that when all is said and done the stars will end up throwing the game, Pakistan cricket-style, in order to let a family walk home with $50,000. What kind of celebrity would dare deny them the loot? There is no mention of charity receiving the cash if they win, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the ‘Stars’ lose this every week.

Beat the Star is a natural successor to Minute to Win It, and will probably prompt viewers to again call for It’s a Knockout to make a return to television.

Beat the Star premieres 7:30pm Tuesday on Seven.

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