Review: “1001 Things You Should Know” A Simple, Fun Way to Kill a Half Hour
This week Channel 4 debuted their newest game, the daytime quiz 1001 Things You Should Know (3:30PM UK; 10:30AM ET). Hosted by comedian Sandi Toksvig, each show sees three contestants attempting to answer, as the title suggests, things they should know in an effort to be the day’s champion, hopefully win all the money collected through the show, and return the next day. It took the place of Channel 4′s long running game Countdown, which was pushed back to 2:40PM so eyes were on 1001 Things to see if it could liven up the pre-Deal or No Deal slot. The good news is for the most part it can. It’s a well hosted, quick, and fun half hour to watch, if not ultimately a little forgetful by the end of the day.
Three players compete each show, one of which is the returning champion from the last show. The question board reveals 12 topics. These are the topics that will be used all game. Each player, in order, will select one category and a Channel 4 television figure will present a question they should know. If that person is right they then get a money question, which is slightly harder but adds cash to their bank. First round questions are worth £100, second round questions are worth £300, and round three questions are worth £601. Yes, that does equal £1,001. If any question is missed it’s open to the other players for a steal on the buzzer. Each player plays one category per round.
For the fourth round the player in first will get to select one of the three remaining categories, then second place selects one of the two, and the third place player is left with whatever remains. The player in last will go first and must answer both the question (s)he should know and then the tougher one. If both answers are that player is in the running to win, but if any answer is wrong that person is out of the game. Second place then goes, and finally the leader. Whoever is the last player to answer both questions correctly wins the game and gets to play next show. However, the champion is asked one final question to take home all the money earned by everyone that program which could equal £3,003. Check out the first episode below.
Ultimately 1001 Things You Should Know is a fairly by-the-books quiz with little out of the ordinary, but it’s carried through host Sandi Toksvig. If you’ve seen any UK panel comedy show such as QI, Whose Line is it Anyway?, or Have I Got News For You then you’re familiar with Sandi. She’s a solid host which makes the show much more enjoyable than it would be if they got someone who didn’t have her comedic sense of timing. She adds a good amount of flavor to the proceedings without getting in the way. I wish they’d let her ad lib a little more and wouldn’t hold her to saying cliched catch phrases, but that will come with time.
It’s also one of the few shows I can think of where the category selection has full-game strategic impact. The longer you can hold on to categories that you know, the more money they are worth, but then you risk it being taken by someone else and getting stuck with whatever is left. For what is a fairly standard quiz show it does evoke a good amount more strategy than a Jeopardy! category selection would given the long term ramifications. The final round works very well with this mechanism, too.
There’s no real flaw in the game. It’s a solid, fun, quick game. There’s usually 26 questions in a half hour show, with one commercial break, and that’s better than many. It’s also not nearly as flat and boring as a quiz like Eggheads so it wins in that battle as well. The only real issue is that, as stated above, it’s ultimately a little forgettable. I forgot the show existed on the second day and caught it half way through, and that’s not good. It’s mostly because I’m so used to Countdown being there and I stopped watching that a while ago. However, this didn’t leave any lasting impact that made me think, “I have to remember to tune in again.” But that’s the only negative I could find. The rest is solid. 1001 Things You Should Know isn’t a game changer, but it is a big step up from tired Countdown and could see a long and successful future on Channel 4.