Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Series 10 Episode 14
History Boys vs. Felinophiles

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

Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 14 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 1st December. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!

Missed last week's recap of the QI Elves vs. the Nightwatchmen? Check it out here!

We're at the mid-point of this mammoth series and things are starting to get serious. Four teams have already been sent packing and tonight the first quarter-finalists will be crowned. That's right: tonight's teams have already won a match and are in that happy place where they can afford to lose. They first graced our screens all the way back in episodes one and two, so you'd be forgiven if they don't look too familiar. The Felinophiles kicked off Only Connect's time on BBC 2 with a 24-14 victory over the Politicos, who have since been eliminated by the Oxonians, who themselves were beaten by the History Boys in their own first match by 28 points to 19. The form book alone suggests the History Boys were the slight favourites here, having seen off an apparently stronger team by a similar margin, but who reads books these days anyway? Time to settle the age-old debate about which is better: cats, or history?

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) Oswald Mosley group, 1934; Polish rebellion, 1863; Number one single for Pilot, 1975; Betty Draper, 2007-
2) GB1331655: Flying saucer; GB1426698: Cat flap/peace-keeping bomb; GB1333548: Exploding nail; GB2272154: Ladders for spiders
3) Meher Baba; Cuzco, Peru; Peace; LGBT community
4) Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Wall Street; The Pursuit of Happyness; On Golden Pond
5) Music: Haysi Fantayzee; Scritti Politti; Milli Vanilli; Lynyrd Skynyrd
6) Pictures (all with a 'no' symbol): Runs (in tights); A pet; A duck; A bomb

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Like the History Boys, we were thinking Blackshirts, but having seen a question based on that in our semi-final just two series ago we ruled it out as a possibility. The second clue doesn't help much, but if you know your 1975 number ones or your Mad Men actors you were in luck. The History Boys did, and got things up and running with a point. You could probably categorize this as a 'one and done' question; if you know just one of the clues you'd probably be in a position to get the points (even if you started with 'months' before specifying 'January').
2) An odd one, this, although I can imagine Pedrick's antics are known to a certain type of person. If you're unfamiliar (as we certainly were) then the idea of patents nevertheless seems fairly clear after two clues, at which point it's a case of when you decide to go with that instinct. The Felinophiles took a third before settling for two points, and I'm not sure the last would make all that much difference. I wonder if this question was originally written with "all by the same person" in mind, or similar, and deemed to hard. As it is the link seems a tiny bit loose.
3) I don't know about you, but I hadn't come across the idea of using a rainbow flag for peace before, and this seems very tough to get for anything more than, as the History Boys did, a single point. A quick poke at Wikipedia suggests Cuzco (or Cusco) is perhaps something I should've heard of, being the site of the capital of the Inca Empire. Every day's a school day.
4) A neat group, and both teams skirted around the answer without quite nailing it down. We got entirely caught up with Lara Croft and video games and never really recovered. Fun fact: Will and Jaden Smith were the first father-son duo to 'win' the worst actor and worst supporting actor Razzies for After Earth.
5) Some impressive band recognition here from the History Boys to take this for two points, while the debate rages on about whether Lynyrd Skynyrd really rhymes.
6) Excellent work from the Felinophiles who took a brave three points while also suggesting swimming pools may have 'no dogging' signs. Not for the first time this series I'm more than a little suspicious that this was a deliberate plant by the setter, but regardless the Felinophiles had snuck into a 5-4 lead.

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) 3: Connecticut; 2: Florida; 1: Maine
2) Pictures: German Shepherd; English Springer Spaniel; Cocker Spaniel
3) Battery LR8D425; Highest credit rating; Founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob
4) Count Dooku; Qui-Gon Jinn; Obi-Wan Kenobi
5) Music: Hit the Road Jack; The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba; In the Hall of the Mountain King
6) E: 13,6,10; S: 17,3,19; W: 8,11,14

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Knowing that Maine is 'the Cornwall of America' is one of those things you pick up doing quizzes, but recognizing which states have two or three borders is another matter entirely. The History Boys seemed to have this just as they took the third clue, taking what was ultimately an easyish two points. At home we completely fluked three points, speculating this might be the number of presidents from those respective states, expecting to see "1: Hawaii" and so went with "0: Alaska". Oops.
2) Very unambiguous pictures of dogs doesn't leave too much room to manoeuvre, and while we considered the correct link we ultimately plumped for Presidential dogs (figuring we at least knew that Barack Obama had a Portugese Water Dog, whereas we had no idea what the most popular dog breed was). The Felinophiles, true to their name, couldn't get to the bottom of this, while remarkably the History Boys not only knew the answer, but knew they knew the answer. Top dog knowledge.
3) While quadruple A batteries aren't too commonplace, the economic climate of the last few years means that spotting the top credit rating isn't too tricky. From there you just have to apply the classic Only Connect sequence logic of "is it going up to AAAAA or down to A?". The History Boys kept their cool, correctly deduced the battery must be AAAA, and took another three points.
4) Tough on the Felinophiles here, who seemed to have the sequence and took a brave early buzz that didn't quite pay off allowing the History Boys were able to pick up the bonus. Count Dooku puts one in mind of masters and apprentices, but we initially got stuck focusing on Sith Lords, for which Count Dooku didn't make sense as a sequence opener. Eventually the doctor concocted a theory about numbers of Light Sabers, starting at one and working up to General Grievous with four, apparently perfectly happy with the idea this could be the end of an Only Connect sequence.
5) Hooray! There had been rumours of a sequence music question and I was delighted to finally see what will hopefully be the first of many. The History Boys were perhaps a touch unfortunate to find themselves the guinea pigs, and didn't manage to recognize either of the two classical pieces with any real confidence. The comfort of playing at home allowed us to get this for a relatively straightforward five, as an opening of Jack seemed destined to run up to Ace. The Felinophiles were able to take their first point of the round on the bonus, while both teams deserve some credit for having a go at Ace of Spades following Victoria's request. Classic TV.
6) Something of a quizzer's classic to finish, as although most of the British public are probably familiar with the top of a darts board, very few beyond actual players and the weirdos who learn it for trivia purposes will know the rest of it. Happily for me I spent a lot of time in my parents' garage playing darts as a kid, and am also a trivia weirdo, so was well placed for this, while neither team managed to spot what felt like a question on the "five points or none" side of things. Still, an impressive round from the History Boys had seen them propelled into an 11-6 lead and the Felinophiles were going to need some luck with the walls to get that gap down to something manageable.

The cat lovers duly did all they could do on their wall, scoring a perfect ten partly thanks to some good Pulp knowledge. Unfortunately for them the History Boys followed suit, despite a wall practically overflowing with bears. (I was, meanwhile, reminded of one of our episodes of Pointless, where we had to pick out bears from a list of options. I went with spectacled and the doctor went with polar, Pointless bear fact fans.)

So with a five point gap to make up things were looking ominous for the Felinophiles, and they weren't given much chance of a comeback as the History Boys (following the least subtle 'wall stall' in Only Connect history) took the missing vowels eight points to four and the show 29-20. Solid stuff from the Series 2 veterans who are straight through to the quarter-finals, while the Felinophiles will be back with one last chance to join them. Special mention here for the category 'chemical elements and their symbols', a devilish little group that featured the delightful DNND. Lovely stuff, despite the shocking controversy of a round on elements when one of the contestants has the surname Element.

Question of the Week

We're probably just being caught up in a wave of new question type euphoria, but who cares, our question of the week goes to Jack, Queen, King, Ace. While the novelty is almost certainly part of it, we also thought this was a pretty neat sequence, and any question that encourages Only Connect contestants to attempt Motörhead is a winner for us. Agree or disagree, do please let us know what you think with the poll below. Ideally while singing.


  1. Our early buzz on the Star Wars one didn't make any difference, as we'd have given the same (wrong) answer after 3 clues as we did after 2. I don't think that knowing A New Hope better than The Phantom Menace is anything to be ashamed of, mind you.

    We were lucky with our wall. Helen and I can reel off Pulp songs in our sleep, and I've worked for enough different charities that I could polish those off with no problem. I think we'd have been nowhere with Muse.

    1. Ah, always nice (in a way) when an early buzz doesn't make a difference - I've begun to realize there's some real strategy lurking in those decisions, since e.g. on music questions we now typically go for it as soon as we recognize one piece, as often we won't recognize any others.

      At home we teamed up quite well on the walls - I covered Pulp while Jamie covered Muse, but it goes to show how easily walls can completely break down if one of the groups just happens to be sufficiently niche and outside of a team's knowledge base (see most of our own walls on the show for examples of that!).

  2. I must confess that I expected our blatant time wasting on the wall to draw more criticism online. There's no sense giving your opposition a greater chance to come back at you than you need to, however I wouldn't expect a casual viewer to understand that the duration of the final round is such a moveable feast. Having at least a chance of manipulating that aspect of the show was why we always opted to answer first after winning the toss.

    The Ace of Spades question should have been a nailed on 5 pointer. I got Hit The Road Jack immediately and should have got to Ace of Spades without breaking sweat. Except for some reason we lapsed into a round 1 mindset and sought a connection. Even when we muttered king and jack in the same breath the penny didn't drop. When the Felinophiles picked up the bonus and the penny dropped I was gutted at such a howler. It was painful to watch. No wonder when Helen mentioned singing on Twitter in advance of the broadcast I couldn't remember it. I must have blanked out the memory :)

    You will of course have noticed with the elements missing vowels round that Craig did the honorable thing and declined to buzz. He's old school like that ;)

    1. Yeah, I can imagine facing the first music sequence ever could easily mess with one's thinking. Were you forewarned at all? I can't remember if the rules we were given went as far as to say "round 1 will have a music round and a picture round, round 2 will just have a picture round".

  3. We were told that they were being introduced during the series but we had no indication when. So there can be no excuses really. We were forewarned and it wasn't a tough sequence, we just screwed it up.

  4. The patents - the fourth one was not Arthur Pedrick's. It was filed in 1994 - 17 years after Pedrick died.