A special edition of Deal or No Deal? (2005) with the stars of 8 Out of 10 Cats (2005). Jimmy Carr takes over as host while Sean Lock and Jon Richardson team up to beat the banker and win some money for their charities of choice.
Hilarious, totally-irreverent, near-slanderous political quiz show, based mainly on news stories from the last week or so, that leaves no party, personality or action unscathed in pursuit ... See full summary »
A comedy panel game in which being Quite Interesting is more important than being right. Sandi Toksvig is joined each week by four comedians to share anecdotes and trivia, and maybe answer some questions as well.
Crossover shows are an interesting beast as popular programmes are combined and it is compelling to see how their individual styles play off one another to create something truly unique on its own. While there have been successful examples of such shows because of this, there have also been failures as the styles of the individual shows don't mix well together, creating something that can be tedious and awkward to watch. Therein lies the problem with this show: while Countdown is always enjoyable, the 8 Out Of 10 Cats element slightly suffers due to humour that is mildly amusing at best and completely unfunny at worst.
Firstly, I'll explain how the show works to those who are unfamiliar. The show is a panel show where two teams (one headed by Cats comedians Sean Lock and the other by John Richardson) compete to win Countdown. To do so, they play a series of games where a random set of letters or numbers is put onto a board, and the contestants have to either make words with the letters or find out how they can use the numbers to get to a pre-determined number set by the board. At the end, both teams have to figure out a Countdown Conundrum by unscrambling a word. Whoever has the most points wins.
That is the main part of the show that works, as with all good game shows, it is always engaging to try and play along by finding the words, working out the sums with the numbers and working out the conundrum. Meanwhile working out the Teatime Teasers (where you work out a conundrum set by the show during the break) is interesting, despite the quite juvenile clues which often sounds like something written by an immature teenager looking for cheap laughs. It is a great format that works well in its original form, and works mostly fine here too.
However its the 8 Out Of 10 Cats element that lets the side down, as doesn't work as well. While Jimmy Carr and the gang can be funny at times, they clearly aren't on top form here. This is due to how the humour either ranges from annoyingly quirky (highlighted with the random antics that Jimmy does during the Countdown games that can sometimes distract from playing along with the game itself) to generically safe and bland. Guest comedians they bring in, like Joe Wilkinson and Lee Mack, don't help matters as they usually don't tickle the funnybone either. And the previously mentioned juvenile Teaser gags don't work either as they are more concerned with appealing to the lowest common denominator by being stupidly crass and opposed to relying on clever humour. That is my biggest problem with the show as a whole: while the original Countdown format is always engaging and it can be humorous here and there, the lack of strong comedy (or any edge for that matter) spoils it.
It doesn't help that the pacing is slightly off as since the laughs are few and far between a lot of the time, the pacing can feel quite slow at points while you wait for the actual game to start. The fact that there are cases where it takes over ten minutes for the games to get going doesn't help this fact. It just feels quite slow and you would wish they would get started already.
However, it isn't all bad. As I've said, there can be very funny parts on the show (Joe Lycett's story about receiving an e-mail from a drunk fan in a recent episode is priceless) and the Countdown format, regardless of this variant, is always watchable. Adding in some familiar faces from the original show (like the Dictionary Corner's Susie Dent and the ever so beautiful Rachel Riley) is a nice touch and gives it some familiarity for Countdown fans who may be initially alienated by this variation of it, and even if irritating at points, it can be quite entertaining to see how badly some celebrities are at the game.
As such, I feel that while this show is a decent attempt at a crossover, it is seriously lacking in some areas but mainly in humour and edge. For a supposed comedic panel show, the humour is too sporadic to be consistently funny and the lack of edge to the humour makes it slightly bland at points especially considering how risqué the comedians have been previously (mainly Jimmy Carr). However, the good jokes and the game itself are always engaging and worth watching on that basis alone. Because of this, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown isn't a complete failure, but it perhaps didn't need anything more than its initial one off status, and there isn't much worthwhile here to convince you of otherwise. Just stick with the original shows instead.
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