HomeTelevision‘Quiz’ Premiere Review: An Enlightening Look at a Game Show Juggernaut

‘Quiz’ Premiere Review: An Enlightening Look at a Game Show Juggernaut

Photo: AMC

For people of a certain age, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has always been on TV. And even some who have only seen the syndicated version may not be aware just how big it used to be. But Millionaire really was that popular, with millions upon millions of viewers tuning in at primetime to watch it. Game shows are a dime a dozen, so for one to be so well-known around the world is truly special.

What I didn’t know until recently was ABC bought the rights to Millionaire from the British, who originally aired it themselves on ITV. Which is where Quiz, itself an import from the UK, starts. It’s interesting to find out what the execs had figured out early on and what they didn’t. According to Quiz, pub quiz nights served as the main source of inspiration. We also learn that the series was originally named Cash Mountain. While the reasoning behind this title makes sense, as contestants ascend to higher prizes, it’s hard to imagine calling it anything besides Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

But while the creation of the show is a key element of the premiere, the heart of the story is how people cheat. Three characters we meet are Charles Ingram (Matthew Macfadyen, Succession), his wife Diana (Siana Clifford, Fleabag), and Diana’s brother Adrian Pollock (Trystan Gravelle, The Terror). Adrian becomes obsessed with Millionaire and winning the million pounds, even if that means bending or breaking the rules. 

Where your sympathies lie will vary. While I don’t consider someone creating their own Fastest Finger First controller to practice on cheating, I do understand that others might consider it against the spirit of the game. What I do consider cheating is calling into a room of experts while using the Phone a Friend lifeline. Still, I believe there’s a desire in a lot of us to beat the system, whatever that system may be, even if that doesn’t mean we’d go and do something like that.

As Quiz explains, there is a group of quiz show fanatics called the Syndicate that helps contestants on the show. It’s all very melodramatic, as if it’s suddenly a spy story. The acting in general is serviceable, at least. The best thing the makers of Quiz were able to do was cast Michael Sheen (The Queen) as Millionaire host Chris Tarrant. On another note, I found the way the premiere was edited to be choppy and distracting at times.

It’s hard to judge Quiz as a whole when most of the premiere is setup for the real-life cheating scandal. But nevertheless, it does a good job at it, and I’ll certainly be tuning next week.

Quiz airs Sundays at 10 on AMC

Aaron Sarnecky
Aaron Sarnecky
Aaron Sarnecky is a Senior Writer and Former TV Editor for The Pop Break. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of Senior Columnist Josh Sarnecky. The two record retrospective podcasts together. Aaron probably remembers that canceled show you forgot existed.


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