Sunday, May 31, 2020

REVIEW: 'Quiz' - Adrian and Diana Become Obsessed With Winning a Million Pounds on a New Game Show in 'Episode 1'

AMC's Quiz - Episode 1.01 "Episode 1"

When television producer Paul Smith puts everything on the line to make ITV quiz show and overnight sensation Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, one family's much-loved pub quiz hobby turns into outright obsession. As the family's attempts to win the ultimate prize fall short, all eyes turn to an unsuspecting Major Charles Ingram to take his turn in the coveted hot seat.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AMC's Quiz.

"Episode 1" was written by James Graham and directed by Stephen Frears

This series details an obsession that quickly makes way for corruption and scandal. Mayor Charles and Diana Ingram are on trial for cheating on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in the United Kingdom. It seems silly at first. And yet, the prosecutor points out that it can be seen as theft as well. They did whatever it took in order to win. That prize money was so intoxicating. It had the potential to be life-changing. For lifelong quiz fans, it presents as an opportunity to succeed in the one thing they love. The series also exists to point out the development of this hit game show format. The new president of ITV wants a big, event program. He sees the potential in this show. The producers take on half of the financial burden. It has a terrible original title. And yet, the excitement and thrill that can come from people deciding whether or not to risk their money in pursuit of a million pounds makes for great television. It becomes an instant hit. It makes everyone seem smart for coming up with the concept. It's not long before foreign markets are coming to the producers hoping to buy the format for their local versions. The big success is when it crosses the pond to America where Disney grabs it up. The rest is history. The format is still successful to this day. And yet, it's also fascinating to look back in hindsight. It's not clear what the precise rules are for qualifying for the show while ensuring that the system can't be cheated. The producers believe they have a solid way of determining the contestants. The rush of success only further highlights the cracks within the system though. It is open to manipulation. It's not long before everyone is able to answer the impossible questions used to determine who gets to come to the studio for filming. For those determined to make it, they are given every opportunity to succeed. They are provided a network to connect with like-minded individuals. People who cherish the art of quizzing while also feeling as if they are entitled to this prize money more than anyone else in the country. It takes awhile before the producers start to notice that all of the contestants come from the same background. They are middle-class white people. This is their chance to succeed. And yet, the format needs diversity. It needs a variety of stories to ensure that the viewers keep coming back for more. It may take two years before someone actually goes home with a million pounds. Before that point though, it can become familiar and routine to see the same faces. That is literally what happens. Adrian Pollock competes four times. He is only suppose to be given one chance. He prepares and trains over and over again. He helps others succeed on getting into the chair as well. After he plays, he hands his tricks and secrets over to his sister, Diana. She gets to play too. He is in the audience. The premiere ends with Diana's husband Charles playing the game. It's not something that he wants. He isn't obsessed with the show in the same way that Diana and Adrian are. For them, it's an obsession. It proves their worth and value. They have to succeed on this show because it's the only way they can pay off their debts and have a happy life. That's how all of this is portrayed. In reality, the money they do win can be life-changing. It isn't though because of the debts they build up because of this obsession. Charles has the necessary perspective to know just how crazy all of this can be. And yet, he still goes along with it. He does so mostly because his wife puts his name into consideration. He is lucky. But it's also clear that the system doesn't have the necessary rules to ensure that people compete on a fair playing field. The show enjoys wonderful success. It is built on a rocky foundation. That creates inherent drama that is fascinating. It's a little too focused on the plot beats instead of ensuring the audience is engaged by the individual characters. It's still a compelling story though - even with more details of alleged cheating on the horizon. It's a whirlwind adventure for Charles and Diana. One that the producers notice and the courts will shortly as well. One where Charles seems reluctant. And yet, he is positioned as someone who just lets life dictate where he should go and what he should do. He is passive in that way which creates a fair amount of ambiguity about how far he is involved with everything that happens.