The Traitors

Get out your smoking jacket and polish your magnifying glass for 10's very polite murder for amateur sleuths.

Everybody who works in TV knows this to be true: if you don’t take a few new risks, you are doomed to fail.

That means throwing a few darts at the board, which 10 has done with regularity this year: The Real Love Boat, Shaun Micallef’s Brain Eisteddfod may not have hit a bull’s eye -but Hunted surely did. The Cheap Seats also found an audience last year with Working Dog’s deliberate under-the-radar strategy.

Now The Traitors is set to debut. The show is based on a Dutch format and offers up to $250,000 for its 24 contestants.

Invitingly set at a stately 1924 hotel (The Robertson) in the Southern NSW Highlands, you could almost have stepped into an Agatha Christie or Cluedo storybook. Think grand staircases, fountains, lamps, chess pieces, candles, book cases, decanters, statues, and Professor Plum in the Library with the revolver. Yep, there’s nothing else that quite looks like this.

Host Rodger Corser, handsomely greeting us in a black suit describes this as a “deliciously dangerous game” where contestants are divided into Faithful “goodies” or The Traitors, who are “bloodthirsty baddies.” Every night someone will be ‘murdered’ -ok, I’m here for this Rodger, even if you’re assuming some sort of character-who-isn’t-a-character… more on that later.

The 24 arrive Bachelor-style in a grand ol’ Rolls Royce and gather in the Billiard Room. They include the instantly unlikeable MK, a criminal defence lawyer and former cop who admits to having defended drug dealers. Can we bump you off first, mate?

There’s a sparky from Brissy, a personal trainer, a forensic crime scene investigator, a ‘checkout chick’, some guy with golden wings on his shoulders, a chess champ, a politics student and more.

Tasmanian Nigel Brennan was held hostage in Somalia and now works as a negotiator. I’m not sure how much calling there is for it, but I’m impressed they snared him for this. There’s even a clairvoyant who says Pablo Escabar walked in when she was watching Narcos -sorry, what? She desperately wants to work with police. Watch your back, Patricia Arquette.

While this all feels jolly if somewhat overwhelming, it’s in the Banishment Room that Corser walks us through the game play. With contestants blindfolded, he walks around to tap 4 on the shoulder to become Traitors. Hang on, so Murder in the Dark is now a TV show? Riiiight.

Each night the 4 Traitors don robes and masks to gather in the Conservatory to work out whom to murder, or possibly to have a swinger’s party a la Eyes Wide Shut. Cameras don’t allow us to hear who they settle upon, which is a bit frustrating, nor witness any kind of murder. Whaaaa?

Instead, like an Agatha Christie novel, we are left to see who turns up at Breakfast to learn who is dead, or got a knock on their door by a runner. Ripped off.

The remainder of the game play includes Amazing Race-style challenges to build the prize pot followed by a Banishment ceremony where all players will decide who to vote off the island, or from the Observatory. Given the audience know who the Traitors are, the format reveal is around who they will eliminate and the look on everybody’s faces when they are told whether they culled a Traitor or a Faithful.

Unlike The Mole, where I am guessing to see if I picked the Mole, there’s none of that joy here.

The opening episode at 1:20hrs without ads is also far too long, maybe 10 is offering a double episode to establish the top-heavy cast.

Sure, I’m impressed to hear Hemmingway quoted in a reality show, but I admit to being perplexed at Corser’s Machiavellian presenting style. He’s a solid actor, so is he presenting as self, or channelling Michael Caine in Sleuth, Tim Curry in Clue? It feels like a foot in each camp to me, and distracting as a result….

All up, this show is way too polite. The Traitors needs to go all out, rather than furtive whispers, icy stares, and croissants at breakfast. Give me bat-shit crazy, Squid Game assassinations, elaborate Final Destination death scenes, blood on the screen with Joker-like malevolence.

A knock on the door while I’m sleeping in front of the fireplace? Wake me when you’re serious.

The Traitors airs 7:30pm Sunday – Tuesday on 10.

18 Responses

  1. I am really enjoying The Traitors and Rodger Corser is hamming it up beautifully. It’s getting very interesting now they are down to 8 people and even the traitors are backstabbing each other…lots of fun especially last night when another Traitor was banished.

  2. I really didn’t expect to like this show as much but I’m absolutely hooked. Roger Corser totally hams it up deliciously and the mind games are so entertainingly played out. The Mole, The Bridge and now The Traitors have all delivered on top notch reality games this year.

  3. I didn’t pay the attention to this show during the first episode until the banishment. The last half an hour had me hooked, and have been watching every episode since then. Such a shame that they started off really slow. They should have save the introduction until after the banishment.

  4. I was disappointed by it. It has huge potential, but doesn’t force the traitors to do anything other than mingle in.

    I’d prefer, if the traitor wins, that they win the prize pool that wasn’t won, to encourage them to sabotage the group, and let them guarantee cash the bar value of any bars they steal in their pockets during a challenges for each of them so they can work together.

    Have the traitors perform a secret task anytime they choose during the day. Day 1 might be they must shake each other’s hand, small things that the victims don’t know about, but could be noticed and forced the traitors together at some point.

    Lastly, each night (must remain secret) the victims write down 4 names (less as traitors are eliminated) who they think are traitors. The traitors will write down 4 potential victims and which of them will kill them in order of preference. If the victim guesses their killer, they are protected from death. If their are no killings, then a killer is caught.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Michael “MK” Kuzilny hosts a show on C31 here in Melbourne (I believe the show is “Tough Times Never Last” or something).

  6. I have just watched the first episode and it looks good, will definately continue watching, and it will be three episodes a week for four weeks (two elimiated per episode, one “murdered” and one banished).

    1. I think the viewing public is very conservative in which they would watch what’s familiar to them and the downside to this show is that it is too different and not familiar (The Block is successful because it is tried and tested, while The Traitors is different and hasn’t been done before, and this is a bad thing when it comes to the viewing public), and for me, I like something different on television, so this show is up my alley. I saw the first episode on 10 (just finished airing here in Melbourne) and it is very good, a cross between The Mole and Cludo, and of reality television, The Mole is one of those shows I don’t actually mind (same with The Amazing Race and Hunted).

  7. Great fun review. Hopefully the show is as good but I was out 1:20hrs. I was looking forward to this and should have known they’d milk it to death a la Amazing Race. When they finally get that 1 hour is enough I’ll reinvest my time in their programs.

      1. Perhaps my expectations were lowered by this review, but I have been pleasantly surprised by this show. I’m really enjoying it, the set/filming, squid game vibes at the challenges, Rodger is great (can’t see Beau or Osher fitting in here 🙂 ).

  8. I mentioned in a post somewhere that Corser appeared to be totally miscast. And I think I know why now. Host the show as urself and not some budget version of a mysterious/charismatic Bond villain… strange choice and has already turned me off the whole feel of the show. A hokey host means a hokey poke of a show.

  9. There was a one season show called Whodunnit? in the US that I think was a lot closer to what David is after. And though it wasn’t great, the batshit craziness of it all was delightful and compelling.

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