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This classic British Game Show Really Hits the Mark

January 23, 2015

In my ongoing search for neat things to watch, I stumbled upon a show called BULLSEYE. “Wait”, you’re saying,”Wasn’t that the show with Jim Lange, and the swirling screens? We already know about that. Why bring it up here?”. The answer is simple. This BULLSEYE, is a different beast, complete with its own beastly, but loveable mascot.

Let me explain, and for the sake of clarity, I will only be using the title to refer to the British show, not the American show. BULLSEYE combines two great traditional games….pub trivia and darts. The game starts with three pairs of players, and for the sake of balance and fair play, only one partner on each team can be an experienced, but not professional darts player. This partner stands in front of a giant dart board divided into categories, with increasing money amounts moving towards the center. The inexperienced players are seated, and, one at a time, select a category for the dart thrower to aim for for an initial bonus. Hit or not, the seated player is given a question from the subject for the money amount hit. Once answered, or not answered, as the other players can jump in and answer, the category is out of play for the rest of the round. That means if a remaining player hits a used category, it’s a lost turn. The team with the least MONEY leaves the game with their winnings and souvenirs from the show, most notably, a stuffed toy of the mascot, BULLY THE BULL. I hear tell some people preferred the toy over the money and the prizes.

Round two uses a standard dart board. The throwing partner throws three darts, as does the opposing thrower. High score gets the question where the money equals the points, or as host Jim Bowen puts it “Pounds for Points”. More about Jim in a bit. Just as before, low money leaves with the cash and the swag.

Now here’s one of the elements that I love about BULLSEYE. Before the bonus rounds begin, a guest star comes on to win money by throwing darts at the regular board. The money won is donated to the charity of the team’s choice. Nice touch. Okay onto the bonus rounds, no not a typo, I did say rounds. The first part involves another special board, known as BULLY’S BONUS BOARD. The board is divided into eight segments, partly in red, partly in black. Each numbered segment has a prize attached, and the bullseye has a larger prize. Both players are given darts totaling nine darts, with six going to the inexperienced player (I think). The players win a prize each time a dart lands in the red area of a numbered section. The black section means nothing won for that throw, and two darts in the same red section loses that prize. After all darts are thrown, the team has to decide if they want to risk what they won in one more game for the grand prize. In this second game, the team gets six darts, and must score more than 101points to win, with the inexperienced player starting. Get the points, and the team wins it all, lose and it’s swag time again, if I’m right. If the team doesn’t want to try, the second place team can try. Otherwise the chance goes to the last team. It only happens rarely that no team wants to try.

Now, this is great fun to watch, and I’ll tell you why. First, as I said, BULLY THE BULL is a great mascot, and every episode shows him in a cartoon to open the show, which is really cute. Next there’s Jim Bowen. Don’t let his older appearance and soft-spoken voice fool you. He’s a riot to listen to and watch. Not surprising, as he is a comedian by trade. Think Bill Cullen meets Pat Sajak, and you get the idea. The music package is infectiously catchy featuring a ragtime honky-tonk piece, that goes haywire with comedy effects when the grand prize is won. A survey conducted in England ranked the BULLSEYE theme as most popular in 2008. In fact, when BBC would feature BULLSEYE during its GAMESHOW MARATHON series, the audience clapped in time with the music.

All of these elements have combined to keep BULLSEYE on the air for many years. After watching my first episode last night, I can see why. It’s the perfect mix of knowledge, luck and skill. Check it out, we can all do with a bit of BULLY.

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