Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 9 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 27th October. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!
Missed last week's recap of the Nørdiphiles vs. the Nightwatchmen? Check it out here!
It's elimination o'clock on Only Connect! The Politicos (seen off by the Felinophiles in Episode 1) and the Oxonians (victims of the History Boys in Episode 2) are back with a second chance to stay in the competition. There's not much of a form guide - the teams having lost by ten and nine points, respectively - but the Oxonians had five more points under their belts (assuming they wear belts, I wasn't paying enough attention during the walls). The Politicos are probably most memorable for offering 'Cock and Cock' as an answer during their previous missing vowels round. Fortunately such missing-vowels-based lewdness happening again is a statistical impossibility.
Round 1: What's the connection?
1) The Murder of Gonzago; Inferior Cheese; Includes Thing-A-Ma-Jig and Bowling Ball; World's longest running play
2) Music: Rainy Night in Georgia (Randy Crawford); On the Sunny Side of the Street (Benny Goodman); Misty (Johnny Mathis); Windy (The Association)
3) From its coastal capital city; From its highest mountain; From being estbalished by freed slaves; From being a republic in the centre of Africa
4) Diamond Sutra; Benin Bronzes; Rosetta Stone; Elgin Marbles
5) Jaws 19; Mr Fusion; Self-tying shoes; Hoverboard
6) Pictures: The Mummy; West Ham; Hammer throw; MC Hammer
2) ____y weather
3) Names of African countries
4) British Museum controversies
5) Back to the Future's 2015
1) Credit to the setter for managing to think of four things that all clue to mousetrap. The doctor was onto this early and I should have joined the dots on 'inferior cheese' when it became apparent there was some sort of word link going on. The penny dropped for me on the third clue, as childhood memories of obsessing over Rube Goldbergian delights of the Mousetrap board game came flooding back, and the final clue was an attempt to give it away. While mousetrap came up in the Politicos' discussion they unfortunately didn't say it when it mattered and the Oxonians picked up an early bonus.
2) A bit of a jazzy set this week, without the usual diversity to give an easier route into the question. This didn't stop the Oxonians (just about) getting a point as their initial guess of "types of precipitation" was expanded into the more general "weather". I think some might argue it was a little generous to allow them another chance (after all, precipitation is simply incorrect when 'sunny' is in there), but I reckon when a team has been too specific it's reasonable, especially in a repechage game. We took an audacious buzz on 5 as I'd recognized what sounded an awful lot like Randy Crawford (of whom I'm something of a fan) and supposed it would either be weather (from 'rainy') or US states (form 'Georgia'). Unfortunately we went with the latter, but at least were proved correct to have gone early; given our form on music rounds we thought it highly likely we wouldn't get any help from the remaining clues, which we duly didn't.
3) A lovely one, this, as from the first clue it's easy to be thinking along the right lines, but it's then a race to see at what point it becomes clear how specific one needs to be. It would have been a brave guess for 5, and we made a bad mistake as an over-confident doctor buzzed in at home for 3 to say "South American country derivations". The Politicos got a little caught up with Liberia and perhaps didn't have time to see the wood for the (Central African Republic) trees, allowing the Oxonians in for another bonus. In case you're curious, these relate to Djibouti, Kenya, Liberia and, of course, the Central African Republic. I make this the third Pointless reference of the series, which is enough for even the most sceptical among us to be suspicious of some grand BBC quiz show conspiracy. The public must be told.
4) A straight case of how well do you know your British Museum pilfering. The doctor and I knew it well enough for 3 points, while the Oxonians took it for 2. (The countries who want their stuff back, by the way, are China, Nigeria, Egypt and Greece.)
5) Delightful. From knowledge of (real) historical artifacts to (fake) futuristic ones. The doctor picked this up for the full 5 while the Politicos got off the board with a solid 2.
6) A relatively straightforward picture set to finish off the round as the Oxonians did the mild cerebral gymnastics necessary to go from West Ham to the Hammers to Hammer Horror and take 3 points and end the round with an 8-2 lead. Remarkably it was the sports-allergic doctor who got this at home, meaning he's now reached his target of football-related quiz questions for the next decade. This final question did rather sum up how we seemed to be looking at an easier challenge this week (as we'd expect with a game between first-round losers). Here in particular it seems tough to see many not scoring at least 2 points, and most of the questions in this round were unmissable if you didn't buzz in too early.
Round 2: What comes fourth?
1) Robin Leigh-Pemberton; Eddie George; Mervyn King
2) 1: 7; 2: 41; 3: 12
3) Tommy Docherty; Dave Sexton; Ron Atkinson
4) RD; RNG; YLLW
5) Flt Lt; Sqn Ldr; Wg Cdr
6) Pictures: Thumb; Shoe; Knee
2) 4: 82 (Reverse-digit seven times table)
3) Alex Ferguson (Manchester United managers)
4) GRN (Spectrum colours as Missing Vowels questions)
5) Gp Capt (RAF officers)
6) Door (This Old Man)
1) Of course, having just brought up the difficulty of the show and up pops a question that we couldn't manage at home. The final clue was again a giveaway, but even with that we could only get as far as "oh, it's that Canadian dude, er...", whereas the Politicos didn't even need Sir Mervyn to pick up a very welcome 3 points.
2) Something of an Only Connect special here, as it's blindingly obvious when the answer is revealed, but oh-so easy to miss (as we did at home). The Oxonians kept their heads and spotted the (retrospectively) ridiculously simple answer for 2.
3) If in doubt, assume it's Manchester United. The final clue was once again a huge giveaway and the Politicos duly took 2 points of their own.
4) I worry that this question will have had some people rushing to their social media outlet of choice to bemoan how ludicrously easy tonight's episode was. Certainly had the Oxonians needed YLLW it would have seemed embarrassingly easy, but I think getting more than 2 points on this still requires keeping your wits about you.
5) I don't think the abbreviations did all that much to obfuscate what was going on here, and while the Politicos took all three clues that was probably wise for the purposes of elimination of alternatives if not identifying the sequence. I'll admit I found this question a little odd; the correct abbreviation wasn't required (which is probably fair for a playoff game), but similarly the use of abbreviations at all didn't really complicate things.
6) An amusing end to the round as the Oxonians managed to pick up 2 points despite not really knowing why. At home we were thinking it was simply "things that rhyme with one, two, three, four" which would have left us red-faced in the studio as we 'hilariously' went with 'whore'. As it was the Oxonians realized there was some sort of rhyming going on, but not specifically the This Old Man connection. Nevertheless, a correct answer is a correct answer, and they went into the walls with a healthy 15-9 lead.
The gentle difficulty of the show continued into the walls, with the Politicos scoring a perfect 10 while the Oxonians couldn't quite narrow down their "British Islands...Shetlands and Orkneys? Um..." to the specifically required Shetlands. The Politicos' wall in particular was an odd beast, featuring two groups of the familiar 'blank' format ("___ book" and "The Golden ___").
With a 3 point lead going into the vowels the Oxonians were looking good albeit not entirely comfortable. As it was they took a (rather long) round 11-5 to emerge victorious 33-24 in a predictably high-scoring game. Highlight of the episode has to be the "Big things" clue "SS" where I strongly suspect thousands of people across the country were shouting "ASS!" at their favourite erudite TV quiz. Incredibly, the Oxonians tried this as well, and despite the intended answer being 'Issue' (as in, The Big Issue) VCM admitted they had to let them have the point. I am mildly suspicious that whoever set this particular clue had precisely this outcome in mind.
Question of the Week
This episode showed that good Only Connect does not have to be difficult Only Connect. We were certainly watching slightly easier questions than we've seen so far this series (every single question in the first two rounds was correctly answered, for example) but there were nevertheless a number of fun, imaginative questions, albeit sometimes slightly spoiled by being too easy by the final clue. Consequently we had a few favourites (and I suspect African country names will prove popular on the poll), but for a superb encapsulation of why Only Connect is great our Question of the Week goes to Reverse-digit seven times table. Embarrassingly simple, and yet so easy to miss, it's why we simultaneously love and hate this show.
But what do you think? Vote for your favourites with the poll below!