The Quiz Show

The Quiz Show

The Quiz Show

The Quiz Show

Synopsis

Despite its enduring popularity with both broadcasters and audiences, the quiz show has found itself marginalised in studies of popular television. This book offers a unique introduction to the study of the quiz show, while also revisiting, updating and expanding on existing quiz show scholarship. Ranging across programmes such as Double Your Money, The $64,000 Dollar Question, Twenty-One, The Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Weakest Link to the controversial 'Quiz TV Call' phenomenon, the book explores programmes with a focus on question and answer. Topics covered include the relationship between quiz shows and television genre; the early broadcast history of the quiz show; questions of institutional regulation; quiz show aesthetics; the social significance of 'games'; 'ordinary' people as television performers, and questions of quiz show reception (from interactivity to on-line fandom). Key Features
• Represents one of few book-length studies of the quiz show
• Offers an accessible introduction to the genre for undergraduate students
• Draws upon new archival research in order to contribute to knowledge about the early history of the quiz show
• Demonstrates why the quiz show matters to Television Studies
• Brings together key approaches in the field with new interventions and areas of study (such as the quiz show in the multi-platform age, and the study of 'ordinary' people as performers).

Excerpt

In the summer of 2005, Big Brother was enjoying its sixth series in the UK. In one edition, the voice-over explains how the time is '3:21 pm, and the housemates are playing a quiz game in the garden'. Housemate Derek beams 'Welcome to “Quizmaster” on a sunny afternoon' (addressing both his fellow contestants and the home audience). Having elected himself as host and question-master, Derek promptly splits the remaining housemates into two teams, and then explains the rules of the game. Questions will cover a range of subjects and 'on certain questions, there will be no conferring'. With the 'contestants' arranged in two teams on the grass, Derek presents the first question to Team One ('Which attack caused America to go to war with Germany?'). At this point Kemal - a highly vociferous and flamboyant housemate - starts to laugh and chat, already impatient with the game. Derek swiftly interjects: 'If you're going to talk you can go back [inside]… do you understand?' Following Kemal's interruption, Team One asks to hear the question again. 'The rules are that the question will not be repeated,' Derek insists, and then bolsters his decision by explaining: 'The secret of learning is to shut up'. Kemal retorts: 'Well, nobody would tune into this [quiz] show, as it's all about you. [Viewers] … want the “drama” of winning, not a boring history class'(2 June 2005).

Contemporary educational theorists would no doubt find Derek's conception of learning problematic, but this sequence is fascinating for dramatising some of the cultural and generic rules which structure the television quiz show. In Big Brother, the housemates talk incessantly and self-reflexively about what will make 'good TV' - as based on their own previous experience of viewing the show. But in the scenario above, the housemates above refer less to the past of Big Brother than to another popular television form, the quiz show. The housemates' decision to play 'Quizmaster' as a way of alleviating their boredom indicates how quizzes and games are a cultural practice which exist beyond the . . .

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