Pop Quiz Hotshot Pilot: Recap Part 1


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I…I really don’t know how to process this.

I didn’t even donate to the damn indiegogo fund Channel Awesome started two years ago that raised $90,000 for this. I am just in shock and awe at how badly this thing was stitched together. How do you fuck up a game show this badly?

We start off with our two contestants are playing Let’s Go Fishin’ while the camera zooms in and out in that terrible mock ’90s way as Brad Jones is commentating (though you can barely hear him over the dull theme music because the sound mixing is ATROCIOUS).

Riveting.
Riveting.

You won’t believe what the winner gets!

You have the camera on these two contestants for a full minute and the winner is not given any extra points, any prizes, any advantages, nothing. It’s pointless. A game on a game show is pointless HOW IS THIS FUUU–

So we go into the backstory of our game show host, Brad Jones. He’s always wanted to be a game show host, but was rejected, so he decides to make his own game show with a woman he’s kidnapped, Ms. Stockholm, and a man who looks like a soldier pulled out of a random Vietnam movie, General Anesthetic.

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Brad goes on to say:

I then created my own glittering prize-filled wonderland. Questions will be asked, and contestants tortured for my amusement. One thing always remains the same: here, the 80’s and 90’s rule. Head’s up, universe. This is Pop Quiz Hotshot.

We then see a clip of a shadowy CG globe and the title appears like it’s the title card for a gladiator fight instead of a game show about 80’s/90’s pop culture. The next scene is a brightly colored 80’s/90’s-esque game show room.

Clearly a sizable chunk of that $90,000 was put into set.
Clearly that $90,000 was used to rent out the toddler’s playroom at a local daycare center.

You ever put a whole bunch of different food in the garbage disposal while the washer’s going, and then all of a sudden all this chewed up sludge back ups in the sink? That is this show’s theme in a nutshell, and we will all suffer for it. It would have been fine to have a game show just focused on making the theme an homage to 80’s and 90’s pop culture. It would have been fine to have a game show that focused on dungeon escape role play and adventure. You can even have a dungeon escape role play with an 80’s/90’s flair, but you can’t smash two completely different themes together and expect it to just work like magic.

Pictured: Meeting at CA to discuss the theme of the game show.
Pictured: Meeting at CA to discuss the theme of the game show.

We are introduced to our main characters other than Brad. The only woman character in this sausage fest is named “The Lovely Miss Stockholm” who, unlike the male characters General and Colonel who are helping Brad because they want to, has been kidnapped and groomed to want to help Brad. Would it have killed these people to have our only woman character want to be there of her own volition?

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On second thought, if she was given a “punisher” role they’d probably make her dress up in a dominatrix suit and have her play as Brad’s sex slave. Both options are bad.

We also have the General, who just stands there with his gun between the two bored-looking contestants. All the General does in this episode is stand quietly and look menacing. He does a very good job of standing quietly and looking menacing. His character is completely pointles. At least our token female character got a few important lines, but this poor token POC doesn’t get to banter with the contestants or Brad at all. Brad asked him once if he wanted to watch M*A*S*H, and all he did was nod.

Why is he even there if he’s not going to speak? Well because our contestants are supposed to be kidnapped and one of them will die at the end! He needs to be there to make sure that the contestants don’t try to escape! The only problem, however, is that the contestants clearly aren’t taking the storyline seriously at all. Shit, half the time they look bored being there.

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“Oh no we might die but not really I guess.”

Even if the General did speak, I’m not sure if we could hear him considering the horrible audio. Only Brad and the contestants have mics, and it’s apparent that out of the $90,000 raised to help fund this show, they couldn’t afford a boom mic. There’s also this grating echo that suggests that this show was shot in the empty head of whoever was behind all of these terrible decisions with this show.

We are finally introduced to the “sadistic host” (strap yourselves in for the forced dark humor, folks) Brad Jones, MD, and our contestants Max and John, followed by Miss Stockholm reciting the rules of the show.  Brad will ask a series of “pop quiz questions” and that every time they hear a blow horn, they have to face what’s in the box.  The winner faces the Nostalgia Critic to the death.

Now you may think that the rules are a litt–a bi–really vague, but from the scattered fragments of information in the intro you piece together that the questions will be about 80’s and 90’s pop culture, that both contestants will have to face an obstacle of some sort when the horn blows, and that there will be some interesting contest between the Nostalgia Critic and the winner. You also guess that there will be some interesting prizes to be handed out, considering that Brad created a “prize filled wonderland” so he can host his own game show. You have the low expectation of this game show being at least somewhat fun.

The game starts off as expected. Brad reads a few questions concerning 80’s pop culture and the contestants seem fairly well matched until–

Rhyming with Almaeda, what was the war during Reagan’s first term that took place on an island in the Caribbean?

I’ll give Max kudos for rebounding from that tone whiplash and attempting to answer. I mean, shit, I’d draw a blank if I had been asked several questions about Saturday morning cartoons and then smacked with a question about international warfare. Unfortunately, Max lost his 10 points for answering it wrong (even though the rules never said that you lost points if your answer incorrectly). In the one genuinely  funny moment of the show, John hits his buzzer the moment after Brad says, “True or False,” answers “True,” and is correct. Unfortunately, this makes John think that hitting his button before the question is finished is A-OK, instead of disruptive and unfair to his competitor, so he ends up doing it a lot and Max is left in the dust.

Suddenly, blow horn goes off and both contestants hit their buzzers. Max’s starts flashing and making siren noises. Max looks confused. I am confused. Everyone is confused.

I'm beginning to feel bad for Max.
Poor Max.

Because Max was last hitting his buzzer, he has to face what’s in the box, even though the rules stated that “they” must face the box. Silly me for misinterpreting, I guess. Anyway, it’s time we had a challenge to stir things up a bit, and perhaps Max will win some points if he completes the challenge and get ahead John. Y’know, give the kid a fighting chance. So what’s in the box?

An instruction that Max must answer every question like Optimus Prime.

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Hey.

Hey guys.

I have a box too. It’s a box that carries allllll the fucks I currently give about this show at this moment in time. Here, let me show you!

Cuz…

Like…

Y’know…

I was expecting something like an actual challenge, like a mini game of sorts. Like, like, like you know how Max and John were playing Let’s Go Fishin’ earlier? You could have done something like Max has to fish certain colors of fish out by a certain time limit, and if he gets them all he gets a stupid amount of points that would help him catch up to John and it would be exciting and pump everyone up who was rooting for the underdog and break up the monotony of questions read and answered in a generally not-giving-a-shit manner. I just feel that when Brad said that contestants would be tortured for his amusement, it feels more like he’s torturing the audience with the potential of what could have been a fun little show.

I feel sorry for Max, who is literally speechless for a good minute before moving on to more questions. He only answers once before the round of endless fucking pointed questions that go on and on and–

In what Lebanese city did terrorists drive a truck bomb into the United States Marines barracks, killing over 300 in 1983?

Did no one realize that a) this is extremely out-of-place, b) this is emotionally jarring and c) that it’s not pop culture? They follow it up with another historical fact about who was Ronald Reagan’s vice president before the round ends with Max with 30 points and John with 230 points. This is just sad. If only there was some kind of chance for a silly obstacle course or challenge to overcome that would add some tension to this show or something.

At this point the show and I will be cutting to commercial break. It just hurts me to see so much wasted time, money, and talent thrown down the tube, and it’s especially sad to see Brad struggling as a game show host. You can see that he’s trying, but his hands are tied with this stupid creepy host bullshit and he can’t be the easy-going, affable Brad that makes his vlogs so enjoyable to watch and would have worked so well with hosting a game show.

More on that in the next post, tho. I am going to need a fucking drink, and I will toast to Allison Pregler (Obscurus Lupa/Movie Nights) who probably has a tummy ache from all the schadenfreude pie she’s been enjoying.

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7 thoughts on “Pop Quiz Hotshot Pilot: Recap Part 1

  1. This is hilarious! I’ve backed away from CA slowly, because all my favorites are leaving and there’s too many new people to keep track of. (Plus I’m sure Doug’s a nice guy, but the drama from the heads of the company have left a really bad taste in my mouth.)

    When I heard there was going to be a CA gameshow hosted by Brad, I expected something like . . . a real gameshow. Where people are being themselves instead of characters, goofing off and being hilarious and having an awesome time. It would’ve been totally unnecessary, because On the Spot exists, but at least there would’ve been some enjoyment value.

    I have no idea whose idea it was to give this trainwreck a “plot,” or who didn’t realize “sadistic gameshow host with black sidekick” hasn’t been funny since the second season of Total Drama Island, but . . . wow. This is atrocious. $90,000? Really?

    Thank you for going through it; your snark is some of the best on this here Internet, and I’m here for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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