I took in an evening of Qubit tonight. It’s a new science quiz show that will probably play on the Discovery Channel and maybe other CTV affiliates soon(ish).
The audience line waiting outside the Masonic Temple studio was a curious mix of downtown sophistiques who had undoubtedly just come in straight from the Annex, a ragtag group of teenagers for whom adolescence seemed to be going especially painfully, and other assorted people who served mostly as organic wallpaper. There was some drama in the air above us as a flock of pigeons circled a hawk; I think he had encroached on their turf and shit was about to go down.
Unfortunately, they huddled us in and up the stairs to the second floor of the studio before I had a chance to see how it ended. I remembered being here before; with my sister and friends; when the walls were sweating and the Beastie Boys were discussing the importance of the individual freedom to celebrate and enjoy oneself. The Temple staff certainly got the stank out good since then.
The Qubit set was pretty neat; at the center was a very large sheet of of plastic or maybe polarized glass leaning diagonally like a big canopy over the main stage. From below, some kind of projector shone a moving image of a glassy 3D cube (the logo), onto the screen creating a pretty realistic hologram effect. I sat right in front of it and that shit was trippy. On camera, you can’t see the screen at all so the effect is even better.
You’d think they’d use this in some cool way, wouldn’t you? You know, have the contestants duke it out virtually with the dreaded cube in the final round or something. Unfortunately, no, the entire show takes place in front of the hologram screen which, though admittedly cool, seems a bit gimmicky.
Nothing about the show was explained to us except that we should clap — at a moderate level — whenever the contestants hit a “Wildside!”. Whatever that was. The whole thing had a slightly first-day-of-grade-1 tinge to it: we practiced clapping and then the audience host gave out pens and book bags to those who participated in his activities. The female half of the nice couple that sat beside me remarked that he was probably a comedian from Yuk Yuk’s. I think she was right. I didn’t realize they let those people out on the streets!
After a lot of movement, light checks, and swooshy sound effects, they finally brought out the three contestants: two men and a woman. The men were comprised of David, a stout gentleman with a British accent and regular make-up reapplications, and John, what Spud from the Trainspotting movie would have looked like had he not done so much smack. The lady’s name utterly escapes me but I remember her being short and unremarkable, so it’s just as well.
This being the first taping, I don’t think it’s surprising that there were a few glitches. The most outstanding one was when the entire hologram shut down and a singular “Unlicensed” floated above the contestants’ heads. I don’t think they downloaded the entire show off BitTorrent though because everything else in the studio seemed to work well.
The game isn’t based on a dazzling or particularly unique concept: contestants choose a prize amount which represents the difficulty of a question in a category. Think Jeopardy but with a cube instead of a board. There are a couple of twists such as questions that can be made easier during timed rounds in exchange for penalties, but nothing to write home about. No full-contact anything here, that’s for sure.
Bob McDonald, angelically illuminated by a studio light over his seat at the back of the studio, was quizzed by the audience host (not the show’s host), to pass time during breaks. I’m fairly certain that the comedian completely failed to recognize who he was talking to. You can taste the sweet, tangy irony, can’t you? The studio host of a highly science-focused quiz show talking to the science guy of Toronto, maybe even of Canada, and he doesn’t know who he is. “Are you retired, sir?”, was the question he asked Bob.
I sure do hope Qubit does well and that I can sell my first-show ticket on eBay years from now at a considerable markup. The game could do well if they ratcheted up the volume a bit; have the host smoke some crack before the show; intercut the segments with softcore erotica; a pool filled with gelatin for the two-people round. I still think that 3D projector should be interactive somehow. Who’s to say all these concepts couldn’t be combined in some way?