Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Thrill of The Chase: An Ode to the Show That’s Getting Us Through 2020

We’re all looking for something to hold on to right now. Whether it’s a partner, a job (lol) or some semblance of normalcy, we as a nation are clinging to any shred of stability we can find. And for a lot of us, that search is exhausting. 

But, thank you Jesus, I’ve found a bit of it – and who would have thought it would’ve come from a wise-cracking 60-year-old British telly host and his rag-tag group of super-geeks. 

Every day at 5pm, I turn the TV on – the real TV, not Netflix – grab a drink and settle in for another enthralling episode of The Chase, TVNZ’s hit show that pits normal people who might do a bit of pub quizzing against one of five certified geniuses in order to win a bit of money. 

I mean, I’ve always known The Chase was a thing – sometimes I’d catch the last five minutes before the news as I’d race through the door, home from another grim day at work. No one I know was ever home to watch The Chase live – well, not when you live in Auckland anyway and had a 9-5! My parents watch it religiously and record all the shows, so when I visit I’m guaranteed hours and hours of endless Chase-watching with Mum and Dad. 

But all of that changed when we had nothing else to do, and a younger generation discovered what we’d been missing out on all of these years, and OMG I actually think it’s the perfect show. 

It’s got it all – drama, mystery, intrigue, and often thanks to roguish Bradley Walsh and a group of writers who clearly love to take the piss, a lot of unintentional humour. 

For an hour, the worries of the world drop away as you try and be better than at least the dumbest contestant. You scream right answers at the screen as if volume and enthusiasm will change their answers. You rage at the contestants who take minus offers, you rage at the contestants who risk it all and try and go for the big money and flame out in three questions. 

It’s a ride, guys – and as a brand-new version of the show hits our screens on Sunday nights with all five – yes, ALL FIVE of the chasers – we’re celebrating the little quiz show that could… get us through the shit show that is 2020. Here’s four reasons why The Chase deserves its number-one spot in the ratings, and the number-one spot in my heart. 

Why yes I’m single, why do you ask? 

You guys aren’t intimidating at all

1: Snarky, smart and so good with the clap-back

All five Chasers (spoiler alert, there’ll be a sixth one added this year, but in classic New Zealand fashion we’re a bit behind the UK) have their own thing going on.

The Dark Destroyer (Shaun Wallace), a barrister who loves a bit of sarcasm.

The Beast (Mark Labbett) whose known for his temper but more so for the fact he married his cousin.

The Sinnerman (Paul Sinha), the doctor/stand-up comedian who is currently battling Parkinson’s.

The Vixen (Jenny Ryan) otherwise known as the Bolton Braniac.

And my personal favourite, The Governess (Anne Hegerty) who, while being on the autism spectrum, can always come up with a delightfully clever barb to try and put off a contestant. 

2. How the hell do you not know that? 

There’s always one question on each episode that you won’t understand how someone doesn’t know it – but every so often there’ll be a clanger that has the entirety of social media up in arms. Like the time a contestant, when asked which royal birth occurred in 2013 answered The Queen. THE QUEEN. 

Or, “The Statue of Liberty is a pale shade of what colour?” “Pink”. 

Or, “What is a herd of elephants called?” “Cows” 

Sure, most of the time you’ll turn the telly off not feeling like the smartest person on the planet – but then someone will have tried to complete the popular saying “Always the bridesmaid, never the…” with “Groom”. 

3. A one in three shot of tricking your family into thinking you’re clever

Confidence is key with The Chase – well, if you want to be that person who yells out the answers, anyway. My family and I all do this. It’s quite amusing when none of us actually know but still scream something at the telly in some kind of wild symphony of uncertainty and false confidence. 

But still, you have a 33% chance of being right – better than the odds Who Wants to be a Millionaire ever gave us, better than that battered old Trivial Pursuit on the shelf, and certainly better than your Tuesday night pub quiz. 

4. Bradley Walsh

But really, we all know the best thing about The Chase is its host, actor Bradley Walsh. Adored by millions across the world for his warmth, charm and ridiculous sense of humour, Bradley has gifted the show many of its most memorable moments, from innuendos that Mary Berry would blush at through to giggling fits that would make Hilary Barry proud. 

Thanks to the quiz writers who seem to love a good stitch up, Bradley gets left with trying to pronounce the name ‘Fanny Chmealar’ aloud, or trying to keep it together when asking, “In form of gambling might you be tempted to hold your plums?” 

Never change, Bradley.

Beat the Chasers premieres on Sunday night, 8.30pm TVNZ1

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