Tuesday, June 30, 2020

TV Tuesday: Quiz

Among the few new offerings on cable TV this summer is Quiz, a limited series (just three episodes) based on the true story of a couple who cheated on Britain's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? show ... or did they? We enjoyed it recently.

Mark Bonnar plays Paul Smith, a network executive who gets excited about the new game show that's been pitched. Its creators say it will be like no other game show in TV history, with a top prize of a million pounds awarded to the contestant who can answer a series of multiple choice questions. He and his team finalize the details of the now-familiar (to us) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and the show begins to air. Meanwhile, we see a married couple: Charles Ingram, played by Matthew Macfadyen, is a major in the British army, and his wife, Diana, played by Sian Clifford, is a huge fan of pub trivia games. She plays often with her brother, Adrian, played by Trystan Gravelle, and their dad is an even bigger trivia fan. So, Diana and Adrian are understandably excited about the new quiz show taking Britain by storm. They study it and connect with other trivia fans online. Soon there is a community of people obsessed by the show, with all kinds of tricks and tips on how to work the system to get accepted onto the show and then to get from the fastest finger chairs to the "hot seat." Adrian and Diana both manage to get on the show and earn some money, but Adrian is seriously in debt, and they convince Charles to go on the show, too. Using their knowledge from the group, they help him get on the show. Diana is in the audience, and another member of the uber-fan group, Tecwen, played by Michael Jibson, is in the fastest-finger seats up front--and later, a co-defendant in court. Charles wins the million pounds, but the show takes him, Diana, and Tecwen to court, saying that they worked together and cheated.

The action in the show, right from the start, moves back and forth between the trial and the earlier months leading up to the game show appearance, so the audience gradually gets a fuller picture of what happened while knowing that they end up in court. We also see both the contestants preparing, and a behind-the-scenes view of the TV crew creating the show. It's only a three-episode series, but it manages to tell an engaging and gripping story. I won't give away how the trial ends (though that is in the real-world news, if you look), but the show keeps you guessing and even ends on an ambiguous note. There is plenty of suspense surrounding the question: did they cheat or didn't they? We enjoyed this short but engrossing show based on an intriguing real-life story.

Quiz is available in the U.S. on AMC. We watched it On Demand through our cable company. It is also available for free on the AMC website. It is also available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $4.99 for the full season.

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