Cram is arguably the kind of program a network might premiere in summer, where the competition is less and the show has time to find its feet (case in point, Have You Been Paying Attention?).
But with TEN in its current circumstance, it debuts this week with larrikin host Peter Helliar.
Here’s a question: what if I told you some stuff and then scored you later on your memory recall? That seems to be the gist of this thin format which, as it happens, has never been produced anywhere else in the world as yet.
Helliar sits at the centre of two teams of three, captained by either Virginia Gay and Dilruk Jayasinha. The guests in episode 1 are Dr Chris Brown, Nick Cody, Miranda Tapsell and a seemingly-perplexed Frank Woodley.
The introductions and gags take some time before the gameplay begins. Our first subject is Planes. As a voice-over narrates a shopping list of random facts and figures, they are accompanied by graphics that look little better than clip-art.
Cramming lesson over, our trusty host tosses out random questions: What is the duration of the world’s shortest flight? Pilots & co-pilots are required to do what? How much does it cost to join the mile-high club? You get the drift….
As subsequent rounds unfold, interjected with a few Dad-jokes from agreeable guests, it’s pretty clear this is too tenuous / long / unfunny. There are slight variations in later rounds but Cram needs better jeopardy and playability (or some rapid-fire Ed Kavalee punchlines) to overcome its shortcomings.
I’m all for a game show with no tangible achievement such as prize money if the journey is greater than the destination. Case in point, Spicks and Specks and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. Here there just isn’t enough to warrant the airtime (commercial TV again unable to wrap at 30 minutes).
Helliar, who showed his versatility in developing ABC’s It’s a Date, deserves a better format than this. Even the no-frills set looks like it has been glued together with some leftovers from A League of Their Own, and the small studio is apparently unable to accommodate a wide shot without filming it on an angle.
Cram feels like it has been put to air without enough development and were this actually a cram for a university test I’d be fessing up that the dog ate my homework. At least it might get a laugh.
Cram premieres 7:30pm Thursday on TEN.