Review: “Catchphrase” Good, Retro Fun
I don’t think there’s been a show that’s been as retro as ITV’s revival of Catchphrase in a while. There’s no gambling your winnings, there’s no empty-handedness for the second place finisher, there’s no terrifying lights or music. It’s just relentless game, puzzles, and what made the original so fun. If you liked the brief US version from the 80s odds are you’ll get into this one, too. It picks up where the previous version left off, adds a few tweaks, modernizes it a bit, and delivers a very entertaining hour.
Catchphrase is as simple as it comes. Contestants see a computer animation which stands for a popular catch phrase. Players buzz in and must “say what they see.” They’ll get money for each correct answer. By the end of the show one player has 60 seconds to climb a pyramid of catch phrases to win up to £50,000 and a holiday if they can solve the hardest puzzle in the center. Again, there’s no gambling. If you lose with money you get to keep it. Spot prizes are delivered throughout. Even if you lose they make it seem fun and enjoyable. The contestants are a delight to watch. It’s a love letter to the classic version but it works. It’s fun, funny, and a blast to play along with.
Revivals always have an issue of viewers tiring of the format after they remember why they stopped watching years ago so we’ll see if that happens, but so far the results are positive. The first episode delivered over five million viewers. Five million without any of the trappings that modern game shows refuse to leave. Could that say something? We’ve said it over and over and you know it as well: it’s not about the style. It’s about the substance in the show and Catchphrase delivers.
Take a look at the first episode below. What do you think?