“Welcome to the quiz that’s hard to do and I give everyone a hard time!”
Landing his very own quiz show, The Weekly‘s Tom Gleeson takes his ‘Hard Chat’ persona one step further in this show that will finally fill the gap left by the absence of The Einstein Factor.
The key difference here is that Gleeson cheerfully insults his 4 contestants, some of whom are quick enough to lob one back in return.
There are four rounds in this game, which has been developed by the team behind The Weekly with Charlie Pickering (also the show’s producers). In the first episode contestants specialise in Flags, The Brat Pack, Field Marshals of the British Army and Doctor Who.
Gleeson wastes no time in tossing out insults to his four players, such as the Doctor Who expert whose curly mop-top makes him look a little like a young Gene Wilder. Gleeson badgers him on his brainiac subject: “Did you choose that so you could suck up to ABC viewers?” But worse will come: “By getting that wrong, someone might sleep with you eventually.”
It begins as each player faces a bunch of questions on their chosen topic -but competitors can try to answer them too, for double points. In the first episode there are some embarrassing misses, leaving Gleeson to quip, “He’s the only one who bothered to learn his specialty.”
The second round is Tom’s Speciality, a multiple choice on a random topic -this week its Burke and Wills. At the end of this round 1 of the 4 players is eliminated, amusingly staged as Gleeson invites them to publicly apologise for a dismal performance.
Another player exits after the third round, the People’s Choice, which is effectively a ‘rapid fire’ of general knowledge leaving two players to battle it out in the final round: the Hard Quiz. This comprises a ‘best of 5’ between two remaining players with tougher questions on their specialist subject. Being the ABC, the eventual winner walks away with little more than a large brass mug trophy. A ‘Hard Off’ tie breaker (yes, really) will also come into play as required.
It’s refreshing not only to have a quiz show without commercial breaks, but to bring a bit of comedy to the table. Gleeson’s deadpan persona is perhaps borrowing from Cornelia Francis’ Weakest Link ‘school-marm’ but with his tongue in his cheek. You can hear the audience chuckling along as all the ‘loveable losers’ in this vehicle careen towards the finish line, with the journey more important than the destination.
I found myself wondering which insults were left on the cutting room floor, attempted in the studio but feeling awkwardly out of place in the cold light of post-production.
In the spirit of the show, it’s all good fun. The gameplay is simple with just enough ‘playability’ for those competing from the couch. On its somewhat-deconstructed set, Hard Quiz is underdog telly which could easily be sold to other markets with the right casting.
“Let’s play. Hard.”
8pm Wednesday on ABC.