Jun 23, 2002

Last Week was tough. I had loads to do (I am scrambling to get my work done before leaving for Shimla for the Mastermind jig which has set my schedule awry) and that meant a couple of late nighters. I, not being among those who can work pretty late, missed a lot of sleep rendezvous as a result.

TV Programming
Considering the amount of television I watch, it is no surprise that I rather fancy myself as a keen media watcher and TV pundit. And some of the TV programming of late on Indian channels have caught my eye.
I had always wondered why films telecast on TV were not serialized. This way, you have decent ad revenues and people who cannot watch (or are not allowed b'cos others in the family want to watch something else) 3 hours at a stretch do not have to look for a rerun. Well, STAR PLUS (who, to their credit, have always experimented with different kinds of ideas, though not all of them would be considered kindly) telecast the film Asoka (dir: Santosh Sivan, *ing Shah Rukh Khan) in a serialized fashion. It could have been a full-length telecast, but that they chose to do it this way is commendable. But that didn't mean I watched it completely. Just took in the 1st 30 minutes of the film.

And so moving on to Beyond the Boundary on BBC World, which took the Mastermind India slot on Thursday nights. It showcases memorable cricket matches featuring India (losses included unlike DD Sports who play it safe by showing matches India won!), with uncommon off-the-field footage (No surprises, considering the producers are TWI, who always shoot such things during series, for use in various vignette specials). But somehow, they manage to render the tale flaccid, even in cases where the situation is inherently dramatic. Bravely, they chose to begin with the Pakistan victory over India at Madras in 1999 (the one with the Tendulkar back subplot).

In the local quizzing circuit, we have a rule of thumb that says The better the prizes at a quiz, the worse the quality of the questions. And more often than not, this heuristic is borne out, especially when you look at the morass that is TV quizzing. But there are exceptions, and none better than the ESPN SCHOOL QUIZ, a sports quiz for school kids. The host is the well known cricket commentator, Harsha Bhogle, and he is very good at the whole thing. He obviously knows his sports trivia, has the rules and the loopholes figured out and is very spontaneous without resorting to gimmickry. The technical angles are impressive and the sets are good. And the questions have depth and don't insult the knowledge of the participants, young as they may be. And the participants: they are quite classy! Pune has two good teams, Abhinav & Bishop's doing well. The prizes are fantastic, which makes me rue the fact that no such stuff was around when I was in school. The quiz is coming into its finals stages, and is a must watch. All this praise despite the fact that I do not like quizzing techniques like rapid-fire, buzzers, anagrams and the final round where only one team member can answer (I hate the notion that there can be no consultation, people tend to forget that quizzing is a team game - ask a bowler to run in without a keeper! )
And to round it off, National Geographic have their own quiz called National Geo-Genius, all about (you guessed it) Geography. Rounds are timed, with a mix of rapid-fire and buzzer (sigh!) techniques and the participants are from Britain. The scoring is done in miles and the game consists of circumnavigating the globe scorecard. One is asked questions depending on the country one is currently in, and moves ahead by the point-miles on the globe. But I have a peeve: Ms. Juliet Morris, the hostess, takes these huge pauses and even clarifies answers, eating up valuable time. And they drop the straggler, the person in the last position, as they move to the next round. The questions are quite decent though.

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