Weaver's Week 2023-01-15

The Week of the Year 2022 | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

That's My Jam

Whose bright idea was it to have a show, and have a Christmas episode, and not call it "That's My Mincemeat"? Unbelievable!


That's My Jam

Monkey and Universal Television Alternative Studio for BBC1, from 17 December 2022

We join Mo Gilligan in the That's My Jam studio. He's joined by the model Kate Moss, sports player Dusty Baker, internet crafter Taylor Swift, and superhero sidekick Penfold J Hamster. Across a number of rounds, each celebrity will attempt to identify some unusual flavours and textures, work out why this curd turned into crud, and name the tastes in rare confits. The show ends with each sampling the others' work, hoping to say with confidence and accuracy, "That's my jam!"

That's My Jam Is it real, or is it prop jam?

Sadly, That's My Jam is not a show about pectins and fruit peel, it's about plectrums and flat pitches. That's My Jam is actually a music show, played by singers and performers. They could (conceivably!) book Taylor Swift, but haven't. Maybe in series two.

They have managed to book some very famous names – rappers Salt 'n' Pepa, toothsome Donny Osmond, top performer Alesha Dixon, and first person booted from The Masked Singer Patsy Palmer. From this series, we see how That's My Jam books names known to the fortysomething generation. If younger viewers are interested, it'll be from the show's content and not the names.

That's My Jam Stars of the opening episode: Alesha Dixon, Michelle Visage, host Mo Gilligan, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Kevin McHale.

"What would a game show be without a house band?" asks Mo. We'll have to ask House of Games Night, who seem to have traded in their resident musicians for guest appearances by Santa Claus. Because, yes, That's My Jam has a house band. Most of the music is performed live.

It eventually becomes clear how That's My Jam has been filmed in LA. The camerawork is somehow different from the BBC's usual methods – not better, not worse, but different. The crowd stand and sit, and they whoop and cheer – and occasionally call out in Californish accents. The reason is simple: That's My Jam is adapted from segments on Late Night with Jimmy Camel. It's a full series on NBC, and anything that is on American television will be shown over here sooner rather than later.

That's My Jam Mo tap-dances while the band plays a polka. Or something. Look, it was the New Year's Eve episode, and we may not have been sober.

Although Mo Gilligan hands out points on That's My Jam, they are meaningless until the final round. For the first 50 minutes, the performers are here to entertain us.

Wheel of Suspiciously Rehearsed Karaoke

The first round is always the same, "Wheel of Impossible Karaoke". Each celebrity has their own challenge – perform a song with their voice altered, or in a completely different style. Or they might be asked to sing gibberish lyrics to a popular tune. Or take part in one song to the tune of another, a concept so simple we don't need to explain it to anyone who has been awake in the past ten years.

That's My Jam Unexpected confession from one of Boyz II Men.

By the end of this round, every competitor has had their moment in the spotlight, a chance to perform solo, a chance to impress with their singing abilities. Either the singers can adapt to anything at the drop of a hat, or they've had a chance to rehearse their parts. Which is it? You decide.

Everyone gets their introduction. Everyone gets their solo performance. Everyone has their three minutes of fame, and for Donny Osmand it'll be the last three minutes of solo fame he gets all year.

That's My Jam And Donny will milk it for all he can.

By the end of this round, we've also had a lot of time – almost half the show has passed. And, with everyone picking up ten points for their contribution, the scores are locked at 20-20.

"Launch the Mike" comes next. There's a massive contraption in the middle of the floor, with a microphone for each singer in the middle. The band starts to play a popular song: when the stars think they know what it is, they are to stamp on a foot buzzer and launch their mike into the air. Catch the mike, say what the song is, and win a whole That's My Jam point. Just one. Can't give out too many points too quickly on this show. People play as individuals, scores are reckoned for the pair.

That's My Jam Mo demonstrates how to catch the mike.

There's a slight twist, the songs have been twiddled about in some way or other – the tempo's been sped up or slowed down, "I should be so lucky" sounds awfully like "Together forever". Or the band plays with just one instrument, then add another one, and another one, and eventually bring in the vocal line. Can the massive stars recognise "Blinding lights" when they hear it? We couldn't.

Great to see the return of the foot buzzer. Haven't seen one of those since Run the Risk came off air.

"Take On Mo" is a chance for the host to show off his rapping tendencies. The backing music from a familiar song is played in an unfamiliar style. Mo raps the lyric over the top. Our celebrities are meant to rush to a Golden Mike, and join in when Mo gives the signal. It's an excuse to hear "...baby one more time" in a trap style.

That's My Jam -It's round and black, it's got a hole in the middle.
-Is it a record?

"The Vinyl Countdown" is a bit like The Pyramid Game With Donny Osmond, as it's describing musical acts who fit into a particular category without actually naming them. Once the right answer's given, play moves on to the next player from the other team. Like on Lightning, whoever is holding the record when time runs out is the loser, so it's probably Donny Osmond. And like on Lightning, everybody comes back to have another go.

"Disco Charades" is very much like Give Us a Clue, pantomiming the names of famous songs. "Two words. Up! Sounds like down. Sounds like wandering around on all fours sticking one arm in front of you..." No, us neither.

And finally "Slay It, Don't Spray It" combines the precision of Sing It Back Lyric Champion 2007 with water guns nicked from Splatalot. Each team's in an isolation booth, and are to complete the lyric to a song that suddenly stops. Get it wrong, they'll be sprayed with water coming out of the microphones in the booth. Get it right, the other team gets sprayed.

That's My Jam Amber Riley gets wet with Donny Osmond.

With 50 points for each right answer, the winner of this round will win the show. They'll take home the very trivial prize, a boombox spray-painted gold.

Does the show work?

Yes, That's My Jam works as a light television entertainment.

This will come as a surprise to the naysayers in the dead tree press, who wanted to write the show off after its first episode. We can understand how they came to that conclusion, it was the weakest of all the episodes so far, and the press blurb made it sound as though it's a semi-serious competition. It's not.

That's My Jam Mo introduces the show.

That's My Jam is an entertainment show, we don't watch for the points because the points don't matter. Feet up, kick back, pour out a hard beverage. Wonder if 8pm Saturday is the very best slot for this show – it could be better at 10pm Friday, but the BBC insists on having a late news bulletin on both channels at that hour.

Lean back and take it as a piece of silliness. An excuse for the stars to show off and make fools of themselves. For that bloke from Glee to sing like a muppet, for Donny Osmond to catch the microphone, for Salt (or was it Pepa?) to prove that she can make any load of nonsense sound good. It's the same energy we got from Chris Evans at his best, and it's no surprise to see his Don't Forget Your Toothbrush co-creator Will MacDonald behind the scenes.

That's My Jam is fun and meaningless entertainment, nothing more. By being shot in LA by people who have already worked out the format's wrinkles, it looks a lot more slick than many BBC efforts.

That's My Jam Cheers and congratulations when it's all over.

Here's something to note. That's My Jam is almost entirely made by Black people. Mo Gilligan, all bar one of the house band, typically three of the four contestants – all are "people of color", as they say in LA. And absolutely nobody has drawn attention to this fact, and that says something about something.

Three more episodes of That's My Jam in the coming weeks, and then they've got to think about a second series. Has it done enough to earn a second series? Can they get a suitable calibre of guests? Any danger of a Shane Richie and Debbie Gibson reunion?

We reckon they could use one more game in the rotation, perhaps take a little less time over the first round, but the show's heart is in the right place. If the BBC's confident, or they can find a less exposed slot, we couldn't rule out another series.

That's My Jam The winners take their prize, a boombox painted gold.

Exit Poll of the Year 2022

Voting has now closed in the UKGameshows / Bother's Bar Poll of the Year 2022. Here's how this column cast its ballot:

Hall of Fame for Best New Show

All of these shows were surprisingly good, better than we expected. And we raved about them in the Week of the Year. Limitless Win would have got the next vote. Junior Eurovision Song Contest may have been technically eligible, but seeing as how we've covered it every year for the past nine years, it wouldn't be in the spirit of the award. We expect The Traitors to win by a mile.

Riddiculous A crossover event: this 1% Club question guested on Riddiculous.

Hall of Shame for Worst New Show

Three shows we found incredibly boring. One that was commissioned by a far-right channel with the aim of pwning the labs (in some unspecified manner) and couldn't even manage that. If we're betting, Unbreakable as the highest-profile flop, but this is the hardest category to call.

Golden Five for Best Show In Production

Only Connect (2) Celebrations in Cardiff, we expect.

Only Connect is going to win the vote, it does every year, and rightly so. Brain-bending for those who understand the questions, some decent entertainment for we who don't. Newcomer Riddiculous has tried to channel that mixture, and we wish them well. House of Games has continued to provide nightly entertainment, and Countdown has improved so much under the new host. Sue Perkins is the new permanent host of Just a Minute, and she's carved out a style and niche of her own.

We also considered Radio 4's broadcast-to-podcast shows Counterpoint and Round the Islands Quiz and BBC Brain, it was great to hear women come to the fore on all these shows. Considered both the Senior and Junior Eurovision Song Contests, and Bridge of Lies. And if we're stuck at home on a wet afternoon, nothing drives away the ennui like Tipping Point.

Streaming Five

  • Fingers on Buzzers
  • Is It Cake?
  • TV Show and Tell

Rather than try to split Ash the Bash, Persephone's Chair, and Topper, we'll big up some other favourites. Two podcasts that always provide something entertaining on our journey into the office, and one streaming programme that lightly tickled us.

Fingers on Buzzers – Jenny Ryan and Lucy Porter's podcast about quiz – has been going for about four years. They talk to showbiz friends, contestants, and get into a listener quiz.

TV Show and Tell is by Justin Scroggie and our editor David Bodycombe. It's a bit more tv-industry insidery than Fingers on Buzzers, the cast of guests includes household names like Ross King and Aaron Solomon, and names from the credits like Chris Goss and Olivia van der Werff of Beyond Dispute.

The Netflix series Is It Cake? asks one very simple question – is this thing cake? Skilled cake decorators create replica handbags / sewing machines / biscuit tins, and attempt to deceive a panel of celebrity judges into believing that their cake is a real handbag / sewing machine / biscuit tin. Although the rules in each episode are a bit awkward, there's plenty of time with the bakers as they assemble their cake, and plenty of laughs as they deceive the judges. Eight episode series, works as standalone episodes.

The Poll of the Year Results Show will be on the interwebs next Thursday. Our friends at bothersbar.co.uk will have the link.

In other news

BBC1 began the new year in the traditional fashion, with an opt-out for viewers in Scotland. While they got to welcome in the year with Edith Bowman, we sassenachs were stuck with Sam Ryder. Everyone followed with Het Groote Eurovisiesongfeest, highlights from an event held in Rotterdam back in November last year. Three days later, NPO in the Netherlands showed their highlights.

Now, we could do a Dirty Feed and write a shot-for-shot comparison of the two shows. We won't, but we will point out how the BBC didn't show a section of Songs In Foreign Languages – "J'aime la vie", "Fångad av en stormvind" – and some for the Dutch crowd. We might have recognised "De diepte" or "Light and shadows", not "Hemel en aarde" or Frizzle Sizzle's "Alles heft een ritme".

The BBC broadcast was the only one to show Keiino's "Spirit in the sky", and had a series of interviews from Rylan backstage. It's not clear what value these added, other than to pad out the show a bit. A moment of quiet for Ukraine aired much earlier in the NPO broadcast (mid-evening on Wednesday) than the BBC one (party hour on New Year's Day); fair enough.

The BBC also fiddled about with the contrast on the show in order to remove as much flashing as they could. We approve of the efforts to prevent Wrong Sort of Shiny Sickness, though the result looked like a pea-souper fog at time. Maybe the BBC might use their production abilities to prevent so much flashing light in this year's contest.

Five songs weren't shown on either the BBC or NPO/AVROTROS broadcast – "(I would) die for you", "Diggi-loo diggi-ley", Michael Schulte's "You let me walk alone", some ditty called "Space man". And "De troubadour" wasn't shown on Dutch telly, Lenny Kuhr only appeared in the background. This offended the 1969 winner, who kicked off in the privately-owned media. Lenny has been assured that she'll be shown whenever the programme is next repeated... if the programme is ever repeated.

Countdown Confirmed as perma-host till the end of next year.

Countdown has had its occasional Championship of Champions. In the first round, married couple Florence and Sam Cappleman-Lynes both beat their opponents, and they'll meet in the second round. The surprise came as Adam Latchford beat Tom Stevenson on a crucial conundrum – Tom had won the series just before Christmas, and looked invincible.

Elsewhere, Elliott Mellor won a great game against Dinos Sfyris, Agmed Mohamed accounted for Edward Byrne (Countdown contestant, not comedian, rugbyman, or disgraced politician). James Haughton, Luke Johnson-Davies, and Dan Byrom also won their matches. Richard Osman set an early standard to be the nicest man in game shows for the 15th year running, and Heather Small From The M People hasn't sung for us. We'll cover the remaining stages next week.

This fortnight we learned

  • There have been almost 50 daytime quiz shows launched since The Chase and Pointless in 2009. Only Tipping Point has lasted more than a few years. And, yes, it feels like we've reviewed them all. (Richard Osman on Countdown, where he also acclaimed Susie Dent as the longest-serving television host.)
  • The first cans of beer went on sale in Europe in 1936. The technology had been trialled in the US in the 1910s, got delayed by the prohibition error, and first marketed by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Newark New Jersey in 1935. The following year, the Felinfoel Brewery of Carmarthenshire marketed pale ale in a "cone top", similar to the top on a beer bottle. The finger-loop pull tab wasn't invented until the 1960s, and it detached from the can until about 1990. (House of Games)
  • How to mime "Uptown funk", courtesy of Su Pollard.
  • The deepest hole in the world is 12km deep. The Kola Superdeep Borehole was an effort to get samples from the earth's mantle, but was abandoned when the surrounding rock got so hot it melted the boring equipment. (Limitless Win)
  • Radiohead played at the Smash Hits poll winners party. Introduced by Andi Peters, Smash Hits was a well-written and witty pop music magazine with a very broad brief; the Week hopes to be half as good when we grow up. (Mastermind)
  • At one time, there was a service to quickly and efficiently deliver items of post from your neighbourhood, and to the door of your intended recipient. They really ought to bring that back. (Only Connect)
  • Tasmania has a bridge over a river, both are called Batman. Must be a popular spot for dinner. (University Challenge)

"Don't be proud of your ignorance" – Quizzy Mondays wrap

Three civilian Masterminds since we last wrote. Jonathan Evans won taking James Parkinson as his specialist subject. Jonathan narrowly beat Bhagwan Manku, who was excellent answering questions on Christina Aguilera. Ann Mayner won a low-scoring match, taking Charles Rennie Mackintosh; her opponents included Robin Geddes, a contender on Junior Mastermind almost two decades ago. William Andrews took this week's match, the acting talent Theda Bara was his subject, and a strong general knowledge proved crucial.

Three Only Connects, all elimination matches. Strigiformes beat Cryptics, crushing the opposition on the wall but surviving the Cryptics' usual storm through Missing Vowels. Morporkians put out the Statisticals, again the wall proved crucial, as did the Statisticals' habit of answering "fish" to all the sequences just in case it might be right. Scrummagers eliminated the Croot Family, again a perfect wall beats a good Missing Vowels.

There was also a Champion of Champions' Only Connect, Dicers beat Data Wizards, though the Wizards had the most brilliant spot – a sequence of the number of possible actions in video games.

The annual University Challenge Christmas specials took place, with Oxford winning again. A low-scoring start to the second round, Royal Holloway London beat St Andrews by 145-90, both sides had a lot of conferring and not much success to show for it. Robert Gordon put out the Courtauld Institute of Art by 180-75, picking up steam in the second half of the match.

The Traitors Erk! One week to finish the series.

Fair warning that we're going to be reviewing BBC The Traitors next week. There will be spoilers. If you're suffering from Traitor withdrawal symptoms, the NBC series (also filmed in Scotland) is up on the BBC website right now, and will be on BBC3 later in the month. We hope they can also show the Australian version, so that someone can actually see it, and BBC4 would take to the Dutch original like a subtitle to water.

Junior Bake Off has a new run (C4, from Mon). ITV wheels out its big guns: Dancing on Ice (ITV, Sun) and Love Island (ITV2, from Mon).

The biggest event of the year is the UKGameshows.com / Bother's Bar Poll of the Year Results Show (The Internets, Thu).

Picture credits: Monkey and Universal Television Alternate Studio, @taylorswift13@twitter.com, East Media, Parasol / RDF Media, Yorkshire TV, Studio Lambert Scotland.

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