ITV debuted a reboot of classic gameshow Celebrity Squares last night, in which two contestants squared up (let’s see how many of these puns I can get in) to each other to win cash, by deciding whether a selection of celebrities (admittedly in some cases this term is used loosely) were answering questions correctly.
The show is lively, jazzy, bright and doesn’t take itself too seriously at all, but managed to achieve the difficult feat of falling into that hard to reach category between hammy family show and a genuinely witty comedy effort. The token gameshow aspects are there, with a lot of lighting, some strained scripted gags and a few catchphrases thrown in, and it is this side of the show which would make it a better addition to a weekend evening lineup than a Wednesday night.
That said, the show contained some genuinely funny material that allowed it to exceed the format of a generic (and cringeworthy) gameshow. The presenter , Warwick Davis, carries the show like a pro, with an endearing energy that is not too much, and some decent banter with his guests. Having to control nine celebrities fighting for airtime, whilst looking after two contestants and an audience can be no easy feat but the show is smooth and entertaining in the lightest possible way.
This week, we had James Corden as the centre square and he was supported particularly well by Tom Rosenthal and Catherine Tyldesley. The jury is still out on the contributions from series regulars Tim Vine and Joe Wilkinson who, as comedians, were outshone by mostly everyone else. Tim Vine relied solely on pre-prepared material whilst Joe Wilkinson spent almost an entire minute pretending to knit in a bizarre scene that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Unlike other quiz formats such as Pointless or The Chase, there is no urgent tension in Celebrity Squares. The questions are usually only semi-serious, with many of the celebrities deliberately giving tongue in cheek answers instead of figuring out the correct one (or admitting that they don’t know). Additionally, the final round is too short to build any real excitement after a third ad break, and there is no huge pitfall to losing as the contestant still goes away with a decent sum of money regardless and even the loser gets to keep whatever he or she has earned so far.
But therein lies the beauty of the show. It’s relaxed viewing; you can concentrate on the gags, the banter and the overall hamminess of the entire production without getting stressed with whether a contestant will win or lose. Celebrity Squares doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not; it’s a reboot of an American gameshow; it’s cheesy but with an edge.
The presenting is good, the hour went past enjoyably and the format and overall look of the show are great, particularly if they ever get a Saturday night slot.
For a show that could have easily shot itself in the foot by being too much of a cringe-fest, Celebrity Squares pretty much nailed it and it’s something I look forward to tuning into again.
But what did you think of the new show? Does it live up to its predecessor, presented by the late Bob Monkhouse, or even its American birth-mother, Hollywood Squares? Comments, as always, are welcomed below.
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