Talking Taskmaster


As you know, game shows are sort of "my thing", the same way Nightwing is, or hamburgers, or awkward video game moments... Okay I might need to trim some of these down.

So I was excited to find out that Taskmaster, a popular (600,000 viewers on DAVE!) game show is coming to the US! 


 The show is split into two segments - on location and in studio.

 On each season (or series) 5 contestants, all of which are famous in the world of entertainment (mostly comedy, in various forms) are given a multitude of tasks (challenges) to compete with a time limit.

Some are straight forward like "find alex the fastest" (Alex is the Creator of the show, and in this show plays assistant and umpire, and data person)   to something that could require creativity ("Eat this egg the fastest") to ones that involve creativity ("create a movie that would look really cool in slow motion") 

After they were filmed and edited, they are all taken in studio, where they meet the Taskmaster for the first time, (Greg Davies, AND YOU WILL OBEY HIM, or not, he's pretty friendly actually) 

It is there they find out what they are played for in "the prize task", something each contestant brings in that fits a criteria (Recently: "best liquid", previously: "hippest headwear" "important document") to which Taskmaster ranks from best to worst for points (5/4/3/2/1) 

Then, one of the tasks are shown, sometimes split up by person, sometimes grouped up (sometimes in teams) as they look back at what they did, what strategies they were done, and if anybody broke the rules.

Concluding with a "Live Task" that all 5 compete in that's in studio (usually 100 seconds) with whoever scoring the most points that episode winning the 5 items from the prize task! 

  (In the event of a tie, a tiebreaker task is shown quickly)

The points are banked with the highest scorer of points throughout all the episodes winning the real grand prize - the Taskmaster Trophy (a bust of the Taskmaster) 


What makes the show work so well is the diversity in the casting, mixed with the budget, it's cheap!

But while on other game shows, cheapness is met with distain, Taskmaster uses it to their advantage, as anybody could theoretically get the same items at home and play the same challenges! (Without the scorn of Greg of course) 

There is lateral thinking in this show, where if the task involved limitations like "you may not touch the item", you could instruct Alex or a production assistant to touch the item for you. Or if they paid attention to the room, there could have been bonus points or loss of points, and that's rarely shown on television.

 So it's fun for me to come up with ideas for tasks on the show.


And it's fun to watch how others go through these challenges, some are just bad, others amazing, and you get everything in between.

Taskmaster is in its 6th season in the UK, and is currently airing.

I recommend watching this show for the mix of discussions and the tasks. 


Which leaves me to Taskmaster USA. A slightly truncated version of the game show, instead of 44 minutes, it runs 22 minutes, and only enough time to get through 2 video tasks and a live task.

Is it good? Is it bad? It's really whatever. 

There is no prize task anymore, instead one contestant out of the five brings in "something they don't want to lose" and it's a game of personal possessions. 


American audiences do not like seeing their stuff played for, they like to win, not lose, and even if it's played for laughs, never works out. Just look at FOX's BIG DEAL, MTV's TRASHED, or ABC's DOWNFALL if you need to know why. 

It sounds like during a pitch about this show - somebody brought up the prize task as "they bring in their own possessions" unaware that more often, they just buy something that is silly enough to fit a criteria for a joke. ("Bring in the most money" with foreign money or play money) 

It honestly should just be scrapped altogether, but if you needed "stakes" I guess that works? 

While it is only two tasks, they seem to break it into two types - a "rank" task (best wins) and a fastest/most task. 

Unlike Greg,  Reggie Watts does not play "authoritarian", but rather a heightened version of himself, he's regal, but with his judgements, he critiques as somebody who is an expert on creativity, almost like a cross between a Television Executive and the viewer at home wondering why they went a certain way. 

And I will say it - he is splendid as Taskmaster, he is somebody you enjoy as a leader and authority figure, even if some of the calls you might disagree with. And it is pretty American.


Which one is better? I would say the UK version, solely because of the hour long time limit.

Making it half the time, speeds up the tasks and you lose the banter and debate of the UK edition that makes it great.

The prize task, to me, is a quick insight on the contestants if you're new to the show, as you figure out their thoughts on simple suggestions., a lack of it, takes the fun out of it.

If you were going to do a new season of this and it needed to be half an hour, I would eliminate a prize task, with an actual "prize task" .

Before the game, each player suggested 4 things they want if they won (a vacation, a new car, etc)

And then each of those are sent to one of the opponents, (and predetermined on the show) 

So the final task isn't a live task, but a contestant seeing their prize task. (A contestant opens the envelope to see "present the winner with immortality in studio, you  have one month") to then the prize is revealed, even if it's slightly corrupted.

That's not to say it's bad, HOWEVER. given they put it on Friday Nights at 11 o'clock in back to back episodes, it sounds like they are burning off the show and giving it a fast cancellation. 

Which is slightly upsetting, but as long as it's still around on Dave, there isn't any hope lost!

 I'll leave you now with this task.