Taskmaster

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alistercat

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#1 alistercat  Online

Since the UK gameshow Taskmaster got a lot of buzz on GB's GOTY lists I thought I'd start a discussion here to talk about it! Thanks, @caseymalone

I live in England so UK comedy isn't novel to me but even still, Taskmaster feels like the best original show in the last 20 years. Aside from the comedy, there is a lot of interesting game design. Many episodes feel like a series of WarioWare minigames. In many cases the rules are only there to encourage contestants outside the box thinking and creative solutions. Casey said it a lot better than I could, so go read his GOTY article linked above.

Who else enjoys the show? Which is your favourite series? Also, why was the (cancelled) US version so terrible? Despite friend of the site Ron Funches being on there (which is dream casting for me) I couldn't stand more than 10 minutes of it.

For those curious, Taskmaster is available on their youtube channel for people outside the UK, and on All4 for UK viewers.

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imhungry

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Absolutely love Taskmaster! I agree there's really some brilliant design happening in quite a few of the tasks, not just in provoking hilarious comedy but even just purely from a fun standpoint.

It's basically impossible to pick a favorite series for me, though it'd probably be between 4, 5, 7, and the most recent Series 10, which produced some truly magical moments and was even completely hilarious in the studio portions despite the lack of an audience. Bonus shout-out to the New Year special which left me sorely wishing for a full series with that cast.

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alistercat

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#3 alistercat  Online

@imhungry: I'd also be up for a full series. I'm not a fan of the short one offs they've done just because it's harder to get invested. That is also one of the worst things about the US version.

I didn't expect to like Rylan so much but he has a great sense of humour about him.

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FinalDasa

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#4 FinalDasa  Moderator

Amazing that in the previous 3 months so many people I know somehow independently found and enjoyed Taskmaster, including myself.

Not only is it a good show they found the right tone for the "game show". A shame the American version didn't understand that but I'm very okay just enjoying the original.

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Retris

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@finaldasa: To tbh honest, I don't think American tv understands panel shows either. Or any sort of improv comedy for that matter that isn't Whose Line but even then that's just the British version but with a different host.

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I only got into Taskmaster last year, but I watched pretty much every series straight with my sister and then watched the latest series as the first one I was watching as it happened. I've always been a big fan of UK panel shows and knew Alex Horne (and his band) and Greg Davies from appearances on things like 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and had always seen TM advertised on Dave but never actually watched any of it until last year. So yeah, was pretty excited to see so many people discovering it, especially non-Brits.

Favourite series is a tough one. Most times picking series will be based on which contestants entertained me the most, because there hasn't been one so far where there hasn't been someone I really loved watching. The first series I watched was 4, but series 5 was a great all-around crew that also had my favourite contestant and one of my favourite comedians, Bob Mortimer. Series 10 definitely had loads of laugh-out-loud moments, and I think Johnny Vegas was an inspired choice for the show, but Daisy May Cooper ended up being my favourite, although watching Katherine Parkinson's mind unravel was also a big highlight (same thing with Series 8 - watching Paul Sinha be so befuddled by the tasks while walking around in a dressing gown and pyjamas was never not hilarious).

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Sweep

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#7 Sweep  Moderator

I will watch anything with James Acaster. I think he's one of the most original comedians in the world right now.

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Onemanarmyy

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#8  Edited By Onemanarmyy

I had never heard of this, until i saw that clip of Joe Wilkinson's potato throw a month or two ago. I should give this a shot, eventhough i'm horrible at sticking with a show.

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someoneproud

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#9  Edited By someoneproud

Taskmaster is a rare gem of a show. Alex Horne is a treasure and Greg Davies is the perfect blend of no-nonsense school teacher and mischievous tyrant. The series with Bob Mortimer is the first favourite to come to mind but they all have their moments.

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alistercat

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#10 alistercat  Online

@retris said:

@finaldasa: To tbh honest, I don't think American tv understands panel shows either. Or any sort of improv comedy for that matter that isn't Whose Line but even then that's just the British version but with a different host.

From what I saw of it, they seemed to treat it like an actual competition. The UK version always feels like a bunch of friends making fun on themselves and each other, but not in a humiliating way. Unless you're having a mask made of food eaten off your face.

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alistercat

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#11 alistercat  Online

My only criticism of the show is the amount of food waste. Considering how many families are relying on foodbanks right now, I hope going forward they don't destroy/waste as much food.

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Ares42

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Amazing that in the previous 3 months so many people I know somehow independently found and enjoyed Taskmaster, including myself.

It's just Youtube advertisement. Not saying it's not a great show, but the reason it's caught on this year is because they payed a bunch of money to get put on everyones youtube feed.

Unfortunately the full shows on YT is blocked in my country, but I still have access to all the other random videos. From what I've seen my absolute favorite moment has to be Ed Gambles Chickpea Romance.

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alistercat

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#13 alistercat  Online
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@alistercat: They started to acknowledge the food waste a few series ago and I believe regularly donate to try and offset it https://twitter.com/alexhorne/status/1182039377846968320?lang=en although I was disappointed to see tasks continue to be designed in a way that makes the waste inevitable.

Big fan of the show (and the new accompanying Ed Gamble-helmed podcast is enjoyable for fanatics). I took part in the Taskmaster at home they made at Christmas and it was a great and chaotic online hangout with friends.

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alistercat

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#15 alistercat  Online

@rahulricky: That's good to know. Though the task they mention here didn't waste that much food. I'm thinking more of Rob Beckett ordering 100 pizzas, or food they use that isn't destroyed but will go uneaten. Hopefully they keep it in mind more going forward.

I just started listening to the podcast! Unfortunately the feed is busted on my podcast app and won't work so I've been using youtube.

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BladeOfCreation

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It started with hearing a catchy jingle, some British voices, then my roommate would crack up. Then she'd show me whatever segment or clip she'd just watched. This went on for about a week, and then we just started watching whole seasons together.

An absolutely hilarious show, with inventive challenges and some truly inspired interpretations of rules by contestants. These Americans are huge fans.

I remember when we found out that "assistant" Alex Horne is actually the creator of the show. Now that was unexpected!

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rahulricky

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#17  Edited By rahulricky

I just got around to watching the New Zealand version of the show. Highly recommended for anyone that loves TM but has exhausted the British series. Slightly different vibe but much closer to the original spirit than the American series.

Next step is starting to investigate the non-English series. Although there's a new UK season in three weeks so that's exciting too.

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alistercat

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#18 alistercat  Online

@rahulricky: Do they stream it anywhere? I'd love to watch more. The format is great.

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@alistercat: disappointgly not in a legitimate fashion, am hoping C4 picks it up at some point. It's available in full on YouTube (don't know forum rules on links so I'm trusting you can find it)

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#20 alistercat  Online

@rahulricky: It's OK, I have started watching it on youtube.

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#21  Edited By FishboneINK

I've also been watching another series on youtube featuring Alex Horne and past Taskmaster contestants Tim Key and Mark Watson called No More Jockeys. It's pretty different from Taskmaster, basically just a word game they play together over zoom, but I find it scratches a similar itch. It gets real goofy, can't recommend it enough.

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Onemanarmyy

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#22  Edited By Onemanarmyy

I'm still pretty hooked on this show , but i do start to feel a bit dissapointed with the guests now i'm in season 6. Like these are fun enjoyable people, but they don't seem to go the extra mile for their points like the comedians in the first few episodes did.

Especially the 'bring your ...' round seems like it has been more of an nuisance and them choosing the path of least resistance instead of really coming up with something clever. WC 16' sticker book repeats, photoshops, tasks being sent to family members, plastic statuettes, and a bad hinge... A far cry from tattoos, elaborate charity donations, wedding rings, wedding certificates, stolen pants . There have been multiple episodes now where Greg clearly has to choose between the least-worst of the submissions instead of being amazed by a winner. Yes, a blender can be a scary kitchendevice but at least dress it up with a horrific background story or visually alter the blender to make it look like a very scary device! Fight for the points! We're all here to be entertained!

it also bleeds into the tasks . 'make a great snooker trickshot' is the perfect reason to build a bunch of crazy and / or hilarious rube-goldberg machine with ziplines and weights , but no one really got to that. The winner of the best snowglobe basically made a bang-average festive scene underneath a bell-jar without any comedy to it. All the spoondrops were based on parachutes or balloons. It just feels a bit dissapointing. And a lot of tasks now have clearer boundaries. Like mentioning that only the items on the table can be used to complete a task, which leads to a lot of similar attempts by the contestants instead of seeing some truly diverse takes on a task. I will say that i enjoy the amount of tasks with an extra unknown step to it though!

Maybe it's just that the general excitement has gone down for me now that i'm no longer in the honeymoon period of finding an enjoyable show, but i had multiple 'laugh out loud up to crying tears of joy' moments in the first few seasons and 0 in the last few. Greg & Alex are still on fire though!

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Pixeld

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@onemanarmyy: Be sure to give series 7 & 8 a try. They are quite good.

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imhungry

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@onemanarmyy: Beyond any of the clever task design, ultimately the show lives or dies by the cast and what they bring to the table and, perhaps even more importantly, how any one viewer responds to that cast and their humour. Series 4 and 5 are among my absolute favourites while Series 6 is near the bottom in my view, but I have some friends who think the world of Series 6.

The prize tasks are tricky, because what is 'good' can mean different things. It sounds like you judge them primarily based off their adherence to the theme, creativity within the theme, and ability to score points, which is perfectly reasonable; I tend to think about 'good' prize tasks as ones which produce great comedy. Some fantastic prize task moments in my view have come from the lowest scoring stuff.

The tasks definitely have more defined boundaries in the later series, I assume in part as a necessary consequence of the guests knowing more about what the show is. That being said, I personally don't feel as a whole that it's all that different. Even back in the first 2 series there were tasks where everyone did more or less the same thing, it doesn't feel like the ratio is much different. The design of the tasks by and large still feels like they allow for creative space when they want to, although whether that space gets utilised again falls on the cast. Some tasks are intentionally just 'do this very specific completely ridiculous thing the best/fastest' and that's often enough to generate comedy, even if everyone is by necessity doing similar things.

I will say that if you're looking for people to be more competitive and out to get points, you absolutely have contestants to look forward to in the coming few series after 6.

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Onemanarmyy

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#25  Edited By Onemanarmyy

@imhungry: Some fantastic prize task moments in my view have come from the lowest scoring stuff.

oh definitly, There's humor in bringing something useless around as well. Especially juxtaposed with contestants that have come up with something really good or impressive and then get beaten by a funny album cover or a reindeer skull. But when 3-4 of the people bring in pretty bad items without dressing it up with a comedic backstory or present the item in a comedic way, there's not much left to be excited about. Apart from Greg roasting them all and huffing & puffing about who actually deserves to win. I want bad submissions to score high on the strength of the story surrounding it! Or the way that it's presented by the person. That's fun!

But yeah i'll keep watching it. I just had some thoughts about Taskmaster that i needed to drop on the internet :)

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imhungry

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@onemanarmyy: Yeah I definitely get what you mean. Hahaha man you're going to hate the series 10 prize tasks.

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Onemanarmyy

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@pixeld: Update: I have arrived at Ep1 of Series 7...

yeah i can get used to this! The theatre bits suddenly seem so much more lively and argumentative as well :P