The quiz show has become a big part of television since its arrival to the screen in the ‘boom’ years of American television in the 1950’s. These early quiz shows in a way showed that anyone could win big or the American dream as it is better known. The format of these show was very popular with viewers and advertisers, as they were able to improve the number of sales by advertising and product placement. The quiz show in America then lost its reputation with a series of ‘fixing’ scandals by the producers to ensure bigger audiences meaning the show keeping its ‘prime time’ spot.
Quiz shows never really earned this reputation back until the recent success of a certain Anne Robinson and her mean ways in ‘The Weakest Link’. An example of an early quiz show is ‘What’s My Line’. This was aired on television in the 1950’s when quiz shows were first introduced. The host was called Eamon Andrews. The main plot of the show was that a contestant had to mime a certain person’s job while a team had to guess what it was they were miming in a certain time.
By the mid 1990’s quiz shows had lost some of their popularity because there were too many of them with the same idea and the audience got bored of seeing the same things over and over again but with slight changes e. g. the set and host. The general public wanted to see new things, things that were different, more appealing and most importantly more exciting. All the quiz shows being released at this time were very alike and unoriginal. The main plot always seemed to be couples battling against each other to win a similar prize to a rival show.
This prize was usually a holiday, a car or a smallish amount of money. One of my favourite quiz shows from this period was ‘Bulls-eye’. The host was called Jim Bowen, he wore a casual looking suit with a white shirt and a tie and had a number of catchphrases, one of which was “Keep out of the black and into the red, nothing in this game for two in a bed”. The plot of the show was that 3 couples battled against each other. One person threw darts to raise points while the other answered questions to secure the points.
Two couples with the least points were then sent home and the remaining couple threw darts to win selected prizes. ‘Bulls-eye’ never did become unpopular but the audience got bored of seeing the same thing over and over again every week. Also the prizes on the show could never really compete with the much bigger and better prizes such as cars and holidays on rival shows. One reason of the massive success on show like ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ and ‘The Weakest Link’ is their originality.
The main plot of ‘Millionaire’ is one contestant out of the ten at the start of the show is asked a possible 15 questions by the host, Chris Tarrant, to win a massive prize of i?? 1million. This is such a big prize that it has never been seen on a quiz show before. ‘The Weakest Link’ also has an idea never seen before. The prize money isn’t a set amount and it depends on how the 9 contestants work as a team. The plot is that Anne Robinson, the host, asks the contestants questions and each question is worth an amount of money.
This money can only be won if one contestant shouts ‘bank’ before their question is asked. At the end of each round the contestants have to vote off a fellow teammate who they think is the weakest link. Reasons for their massive popularity are their originality – How no other show has had this format. Their massive prize money – No other shows budget has been able to support this kind of prize and the ideology of the show – This shows that anybody is possible of winning big and this urges them to make that call and apply to get on the show.
Now you know the main plot of the two best and enjoyable quiz shows I am going to explain in more detail about the other features of the show that makes them so successful. Firstly I am going to explain the narrative of the two shows and how we all get hooked on watching them and feel the tension, which make them so appealing. The narrative of a show is split into four different parts, Exposition – How the show begins. Complication – The crisis points in the show. Climax – When the level of tension is at its highest. Resolution – How the crisis is resolved/end of show.
On ‘Millionaire’ the show begins by Chris Tarrant coming onto the set with loud cheerful music with the sound of clapping from the audience. He the briefly introduces the ten contestants and moves onto the ‘Fastest Finger First’ round. The Complication is when the contestant isn’t sure about the answer and may have to use on of his/hers lifelines. Gloomy background music and the silence of the audience increase the tension and the contestant may start to feel the pressure. Chris Tarrant then tries talking to the contestant to comfort them and ease their nerves.
The viewer may also feel the pressure and they may start screaming at the television if they know the answer. The Climax is when the contestant finally says their final answer and it makes the contestant, the audience and the viewers hold their breath until they find out the answer. If the contestant gets the question right a more happy background music takes over the dull one and Chris Tarrant shakes the hand of the contestant to say congratulations and all the tension is lost as the viewers can smile again and also gloat if they got the answer right themselves.
The Resolution of the show is when the contestant wins the total prize of i?? 1million or leave with the money banked. The tension is then nothing and the viewer is calm until the next contestant takes their place in the hot seat. The exposition of ‘The Weakest Link’ is when Anne Robinson explaining the rules of the game before letting the contestants introduce themselves. Effects used at this time are the theme tune and spotlights on the contestant when they are speaking. The complication is when the round is coming to an end.