Monday, 20 October 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Series 10 Episode 8
Nørdiphiles vs. Nightwatchmen

Scroll down for this week's Question of the Week poll!

Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 8 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 21st October. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!

Missed last week's recap of the Orienteers vs. the Romantics? Check it out here!

Episode eight means we're through the first pass of this mega-series, with tonight's team the final two to join the class of 2014 (and a bit of 2015). In the blue corner sat the Nørdiphiles (James Keeling, Will Day and Joanna Murray) while across the Only Connect Sea were the Nightwatchmen (Jonathan Wilson, Robert Winder and Daniel Norcross) who, if the name stumps you, are linked by cricket. (Cue the doctor exclaiming "I can't believe we weren't allowed a team name that was a pun based on the open source software movement when these guys get away with some cricketing nonsense". Hashtag never forget.) Captain Daniel revealed that he'd taken part in pilots for the show several years ago; intriguingly one of them involved 3 teams of 2, rather than 2 teams of 3. The mind boggles.

From the off I was supporting the Nørdiphiles for no particular reason other than that their name sounds a bit like 'naughty philes' and I thought I could make a good joke out of that on the recap. (Turns out I couldn't.) On with the show!

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) Best Picture Oscar nominees (2010); Uefa Euro Championship teams (1996); Wimbledon seeded players (2001); Lotto price (2013)
2) Ruddigore; Straw Dogs; Jamaica Inn; Doc Martin
3) Dr. Evil's Number Two; Snake Plissken; Rooster Cogburn; Danger Mouse
4) Music: Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan); The 59th Street Bridge Song (Simon and Garfunkel); Dark End of the Street (James Carr); Street Life (unclear, but I'm going to pretend it would've been Randy Crawford, because she's great)
5) Miedinger & Hoffmann; Hoefler & Frere-Jones; John Baskerville; Eric Gill
6) Pictures: Scafell Pike; Rosamund Pike; A pike (the dive); Another pike (the weapon)

The answers

Our thoughts
1) The Nightwatchmen got a tiny bit lucky here, buzzing in after the second clue to say "things that have increased in number" only to stumble onto the all-important doubling when pressed to be more specific. I thought this was a fun idea and it would have been interesting to see a team puzzle it out slightly further, whereas from the comfort of home it seemed a tad easy (I got it for 5 as my ability to remember numbers just about overpowered my inability to remember anything to do with films).
2) The Nørdiphiles' opener, in contrast, seemed rather tough, and the Nightwatchmen were able to come in for a good bonus point. Ruddigore is certainly not your common-or-garden Gilbert and Sullivan, while Straw Dogs and Jamaica Inn were well outside our wheelhouse. The doctor's suggestion that Straw Dogs was "something to do with the Rwanadan genocide" made the prospect of it relating to Doc Martin at the very least intriguing, but by this point settings seemed plausible but we knew none of them.
3) We felt this one added to the list of "surely it's not that easy" questions from this series, although I think that's in part down to the first two clues being characters we're unusually familiar with. Still, we spent a while debating which eye was patched but that wasn't required and the Nightwatchmen took another 2 points. It turns out all but Number Two wore their patches on the left, eye-patch fact fans.
4) It's hard to judge music questions from home, let alone when the team in the studio nails it after just two clues. We were still trying to remember the name of the Simon and Garfunkel song ("it's not just Feelin' Groovy, is it?") when the Nørdiphiles opened their account with an impressive 3-pointer, and I suspect we'd have been nowhere on this even with all four clues.
5) It's been all of two weeks since we last saw a typography question, and it seemed a tiny bit too straightforward from home. The Nightwatchmen spotted this for 2, which was the first name we recognized, and I felt a bit frustrated not to have gone for this a little earlier.
6) Identifying Scafell Pike seems a tall order, but the Nørdiphiles recognized Rosamund Pike and cleverly deduced the first picture was probably England's highest mountain. I'd have been interested to see if a team could spot a specific dive (although there aren't too many most of us could be expected to know, I suspect), but it would have been fun to see the penny drop on the final clue and the subsequent reverse engineering. Still, after a tricky start the Nørdiphiles had pulled out a couple of impressive solves to trail by just 8 points to 6 after a high-scoring opening round.

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) Seine; Setter; Ottoman
2) Pictures (in matchsticks): 1; 2; 6
3) Johnson: The Vantage Point; Carter: The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer; Clinton: Between Hope and History
4) 2004: Beckham and Vassell; 1998: Ince and Batty; 1996: Southgate
5) Haffaz; Brüno; Borat
6) 3 Elves; 7 Dwarves; 9 Mortal Men

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Ooh, nasty. This had the faint hint of being "one of them wordy ones" but spotting that still left you several kilometres from the actual answer. The Nightwatchmen initially were thinking of sofas, but remarkably got most of the connection after the time, only to still not quite get the correct answer. This is a neat little question, but does seem a bit brutal for a first round game.
2) While this is the sort of question I really like, it suffers a tiny bit from the '1' not being written in standard 7-segment (i.e. 'calculator') display. Although we were dealing with matches rather than calculators I think, given the sequence terminates at 7, it seems likely it's the latter they had in mind. Apparently any number written with 7 matches would have been accepted, but the Nørdiphiles took the intended path and picked up 2 points to tie the game.
3) If you know your Presidential books exceptionally well you may have been onto this for five, although spotting the sequence as being democratic, rather than merely any, President would be a tricky ask. (As far as I can tell Bush Senior hasn't written anything of note, and so a straight Presidential books question wouldn't work.) As soon as Carter appaers you know you're dealing with Presidents, and skipping out Nixon and Ford makes it clear it's democrats we're looking for. At this point I think most teams will know the connection and it's just a case of remembering an Obama book, but the Nightwatchmen took all three clues to be sure. Notably they didn't quite get the name right (they said something like " father?") but were given the benefit of the doubt and a further 2 points.
4) Quite gettable for 5 if you're a real football buff, and very gettable for 3 which was when the Nørdiphiles came in. I felt a bit miffed that this sequence ended at Pearce and Waddle, rather than Southgate, as the former is just too early to be seared onto my brain and I could only remember one of them. That's just a personal annoyance however, as it's hard to deny that that 1990 shootout is the natural end point. (In case you're wondering, it could've started "2006: Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher" if you're as obsessed with Only Connect questions ending Gareth Southgate as I am.)
5) Quite an elegant one, this, as it would take a reasonable fan to remember The Dictator is actually called Haffaz, while Brüno is a much bigger clue (but meant nothing to us at home). The Nightwatchmen had this for 3 points, whereas at home we took it for 2 (by which point is was unfortunately, but inevitably, very easy).
6) A lovely question to finish, as the fantasy nerds watching (yes, that includes us) will have had the connection early but perhaps struggled for the exact wording required. The Nørdiphiles knew it was Lord of the Rings but couldn't remember (or didn't spot) that they needed the specific owner of the One Ring, not just that it was "to rule them all", while the Nightwatchmen couldn't pick up the bonus. This one had shades of the Deathly Hallows question in our semi-final; I've seen some comment that it's a little harsh the Nørdiphiles weren't given this (as they clearly knew the link) but for me it's clear they're looking for that extra bit of knowledge. 13-11 to the Nightwatchmen going into the walls.

While they were trailing I thought the Nørdiphiles had put in an impressive performance so far and perhaps hadn't quite got the rub of the green on their questions. They continued to impress in the wall by spotting cities missing their final letter as their first group and eventually scoring a solid 7 (only failing to recognize the Florida Keys). The Nightwatchmen, meanwhile, managed a perfect 10 to stretch their lead to 5 points going into the vowels.

That's a pretty big lead, but not unassailable, and the Nørdiphiles proved just that running out 10-3 in the final round to take the show 28-26. My favourite missing vowel clue was THHRRRTHHRRR in 'last lines of films', kudos to the setter for that particular gem. Another pair of very competent looking teams, then, and with the standard we've seen this series some good ones are going to be going home pretty soon.

Question of the Week

We resisted the temptation to go with our five-pointer spot on 'things that doubled' and while 'Italian numbers' is a superb question it just seems Too Hard for a first round game. Instead we're betraying our (not-so) secret geekiness and giving Question of the Week to Verse of the Rings. Part of this is undoubtedly that it's fun to see questions about nerdy stuff, but we like how even those who don't know too much about the books should at least be able to work out it's "something to do with Lord of the Rings". From there while you may not know the verse specifically, you could make a guess that the answer will be something to do with the one ring, and I hope that the then quite-gettable Sauron would have been accepted. (Hopefully someone will correct me if not.)

Maybe you disagree (and with my track record, you probably do), but even if you don't do vote for your own favourite questions with the poll below!

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