They’re a very colloquial lot in Seven’s new Reality game show, The Big Adventure.
There are 12 of them, ranging in ages from 23 – 52 and all are competing for one million dollars which, unless I am mistaken, is equal to the biggest single prize giveaway on Australian television (TEN’s Big Brother gave away $1M a decade ago along with Nine’s Millionaire twice).
“We are all so different and yet so similar,” an ominous voice-over tells us. “The one thing we have in common: we all have a dream.
“12 regular Australians are about to step away from their everyday lives.”
With their various hopes of winning the jackpot for their kids, to pay off the mortgage, to travel, to start that small business dream, to own a cafe, to help their disabled sibling, to have a dream wedding – these folk could be you, me or the bloke next door. Geddit?
Seven is always keen to reflect middle Australia when making its entertainment shows aka ‘roast chook’ telly. Whether it hits a bulls eye with My Kitchen Rules, or misfires with Bringing Sexy Back, casting is king.
We’re on a tropical island in Fiji for this Seven-devised format. What unfolds is a mix between Survivor, The Amazing Race and even Waterworld.
At the heart of this series is a large treasure grid which looks like something Sawyer might have stumbled over in the jungles of Lost.
It is divided into a 5 x 5 grid with 12 ‘golden keys’ buried in 24 of its squares (the 25th is its centre). Across the series contestants will compete Survivor-style to vie for the chance to dig for a golden key, only one of which will unlock the million dollar loot. It sounds a bit like a glorified radio competition, but in the hands of the MKR and House Rules producers, the drama will be milked and the jeopardy hopefully maximised.
Host Jason Dundas (officially the whitest teeth on TV) assumes the Jeff Probst-position of explaining the game-play and ‘calling’ the action of challenges. Dundas is friendly enough but I do miss the drama of Probst’s over-the-top gung-ho here, there’s just something about the flat Australian sound that can’t match his enthusiasm.
Our 12 are also not quite left to their own resources on a deserted beach for accommodation, either. Base camp is an inviting, rustic hideaway, albeit with some primitive cooking supplies (rice and beans). That said, it serves well as armchair escapism, especially against the inviting aqua-marine waters of Fiji. Visually, this is shot rather well, but there are far too many narration pieces to camera from contestants that interject the action. Australian reality television is really forgetting to ‘show me, don’t tell me’ these days…
The 12 contestants are an affable bunch, far removed from the best (worst?) MKR hostility. There’s already a bit of flirting in the opening episode. Whether this remains when so much money is at stake remains to be seen.
The most impressive feature of the series is the large ‘Sky Rig’ scaffolding hanging over the ocean. Looking like something Kevin Costner might have built, it serves as a gladiatorial arena for challenges. I haven’t worked out whether it’s also an economic consideration to have one centrepiece across the series rather than new ones every week. Probably.
At 90 minutes the premiere is stretching the friendship, but I’m intrigued to have a brand new format and to see where it goes. It’s good to see a network take some risks, even if it is in a saturated genre.
The Big Adventure should appeal to fans of Survivor -provided they don’t see it as a clone- and will help us all forget that debacle that was The Mole revived.
The Big Adventure premieres 6:30pm Sunday on Seven.