Saturday, August 10, 2013

But Wait, There's Mole!

Can you believe the current Australian revival of The Mole is somehow managing to find ways of getting worse and worse? Why are we at the point where we need a third big post about what went wrong, when we shouldn't have even needed one? And why do I feel the need to dumb it down to match the show's tone?

1. How is it this season is so awful when most of the ideas are being taken from the excellent Dutch version of the show? We're not even in 'worst Mole season ever' territory any more. We're coming up on 'worst season of a reality show ever', if not indeed already straddling the fine line between it and 'worst season of a TV show ever'. And we're only about halfway through. I mean, even the tonedeaf BBC intern who picks the British Eurovision entrant is thanking their lucky stars they're not involved.

2. With eight players left, we've got tall, blonde, dark, and lean, rough and tough and strong and mean all covered (thank YOU, Sam, Erin, Aisha, Nick, Ally, Kerrie, Hillal, and Shaun). But it's raining molls (and Moles), and what we really need right now is a streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds. There's four utterly irredeemable twunts left. Assuming one of the four tolerable players is booted next, because it's been that kind of a season, we have a 63% chance of getting at least two of them in the final three. Those aren't good odds. In fact, we'll even lower our standards. He doesn't have to be a white knight upon a fiery steed, and he doesn't have to be strong, and he doesn't have to be fast, and he doesn't have to be fresh from a fight. And with the success we've had so far, we'd actually kind of prefer if he wasn't larger than life. Is it too late to clone Hillal? I know where we can find a good home once you're done with him.

3. Eleven episodes in, there are still too many people to even pretend to give a flying fuck about. And it doesn't help that there are still too many assholes hogging all the screentime to make us care about the few redeemable cast members left. One of the basic tenets of reality TV is 'don't cast anyone you wouldn't want to see win'. So who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to have even one player along these lines, let alone SIX?

4. When you lose over 35% of your audience within the space of a week as a result of having more padding than the Wipeout course, that's a bit of a hint that it's time to get the show back in the edit suite and recut it. Instead, the only noticeable difference in the late night timeslot is the removal of the joining sections between episodes that are now back-to-back. It wouldn't be hard to find unnecessary scenes to cut out. Seriously, cut the flashback rewinds, the endless re-exposition (including the obnoxious graphics reminding us what jokers freebies are every time they are mentioned), the self-aggrandising confessionals (SAM), and the 'before/after the break' scenes (yes, thank you, we know what we saw three minutes ago), and you're probably most of the way there already. In related news, challenges that were designed for about ten minutes of airtime? Stop dragging them out into half-hour ordeals, some of which seem to be being shown in slower than real-time pace. They become less 'psychological pressure cooker' and more 'psychosomatic slow cooker'.

5. 'But aren't the confessionals like the meat in the sandwich?' No. The challenges are the meat in the sandwich, and with the amount of recycling this season it's probably more like Spam than actual meat at this point. The confessionals? You don't win friends with salad.

6. When you don't air an episode of the show in some markets due to a live program's overrun earlier in the night, and when it's a show perfect for encouraging online conversation (and when direct prompts to do so are added into the show), it's probably a good idea to treat those viewers with respect. As opposed to, say, not announcing the episode's replacement with a repeat of Criminal Minds on air when the episode was supposed to begin, not changing the electronic program guide listings until ten minutes after the show was scheduled to begin, not putting the episode on the show's website for affected viewers to catch up on, and removing the show from both the dropdown search menu and the A-to-Z program list on the network's website. Not that this show would do that, of course.

7. For a show that's been advertising a maximum prize of $250,000 every episode, it's worth noting that we're already at $259,500. And I'm not counting the three challenges with open-ended prizes, or the one where the total possible prize isn't calculable, or the one where the maximum prize depended on the previous challenge. With half the season still to come, it's flagrant false advertising. And if the actual kitty is going to wind up at about that value, it's going to make the Mole look like they did absolutely nothing to sabotage the team.

8. Even then, whoever has been picked as the Mole has done a terrible job. After the first week, I wrote a post detailing the reasons why Shaun was the Mole. And he's still a huge suspect - he's somehow managed to find himself in the ideal position for the Mole in most challenges AND has tried to sabotage almost every challenge in every possible way from his position (both subtly and blatantly) - but... it's too easy if it's him. On the other hand, if it's not him we'll be in the same situation as in 2005 where the Mole did very little and nearly a decade later people are still swearing they weren't actually the Mole at all and Seven fucked up when they revealed it. Which would not be surprising at this point.

9. As Shura's terrible scripting and inability to adlib stated way back in Episode 3, 'every advantage must be defended'. Unless, of course, they are jokers freebies. Or if you are Erin. Seriously, if you're going to make a big deal about Kerrie having to 'defend' her first-test free pass (in a challenge clearly not designed for either defending a free pass or for being used at that point in the game, the latter being another recurring issue that makes it look like producers have been throwing darts at printouts of the Mole challenge guide when selecting the season's challenges), then make sure you follow your own damn continuity.

10. Likewise, if you're going to go to the effort of providing graphical explanations for most challenges, spend a few extra minutes and make sure they're accurate. There have been so many errors so far this season it's ridiculous. In Episode 4 alone, for example, the H was missing from the value chart graphic for the jetboat challenge and three separate iconic Melbourne locations were mismarked on the map graphics in the subsequent navigation challenge, one of them by over four city blocks. Also, nobody buys that Shura is watching the challenges happen in real-time on his product-placed tablet.

11. Allow me to explain rudimentary supply and demand, as taught to most Australians in high school. If there's a limited amount of something important, its value is greater and people are willing to do more in order to get it. If this same item is ubiquitous, its value is lesser and nobody cares about the implications of having it, because they know they can get more. Or, in game terms, if you want jokers freebies to have any impact at all beyond being used immediately and making each and every elimination a total crapshoot, defeating the entire concept of the show, STOP GIVING AWAY SO DAMN MANY OF THEM. (For context, since they were introduced in the Dutch version in 2006, there's usually only been two chances to win them during the season, and in most cases designed so that each player is only able to win about three at a time. So far this season, they've been available five times, and in the best possible scenario a player could currently be holding onto nineteen.)

1 comment:

  1. Weren't jokers a rebranding of the free questions in earlier challenges in various places, such as the UK's 1st season's blackjack challenge, with the only real difference between the two being the ability to save them?