Friday, 15 May 2009

You don't need to be a mastermind to enjoy this

Advantages: Keeps the old brain active

Disadvantages: None

I like TV quiz show, simply because it helps keep my limited brain a little more fresh than it normally would be. 

Mastermind is one of these. 

It also reminds me of sitting with the family in childhood. We used to put all the lights out and watch this in the dark; somehow back in those unsophisticated days of the 1970s watching the telly in total darkness heightened the atmosphere - especially for menacing, Hammer Horror films. 

And there was indeed something menacing about the original Mastermind, starting with the opening credits and that theme tune (called "Approaching Menace"). can you hear it in your head? 

This would be accompanied by the contrasty pans and zooms of a camera around the Mastermind chair. But enough of the reminiscing and trying to be evocative, what is Mastermind? 

It is a Quiz show between four contestants, each show or round split into two parts. Part one the contestants are each given two minutes answering questions on a specialised subject - part two the contestants answer general knowledge, again over two minutes. 

The contestants may pass on questions - they may also guess, but this uses up precious time. On the other hand passing can be used against you in the case of a tie break. In other words the player can use this tactically. A point is given for each correct answer and the highest scorer wins the round and goes forward to a future round, leading towards a final. 

Sounds straightforward and simple enough, so why crowd round the telly to take this in? Well that opening sequence and that tune really does draw you in. It was also originally hosted by the somewhat enigmatic Icelandic-Scot Magnus Magnusson. The original airing was a little severe in its presentation. 

These days it is more friendly and presented by John Humphreys. Between rounds John has a friendly chat with the contestants which at once puts the contestant at a little more ease. It also, I think, makes it a little more interesting for the us the viewer. 

If you like testing yourself, by getting the answer, you will like this show, and can give yourself an extra pat on the back if you answer any of the specialised rounds. 

Currently this normally shows on BBC2 on a Monday night at 8PM, when there is a series active.

Summary: Classic television quiz fun

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