First cab off the quizmaster’s rank
Cash Cab 6.30pm, [ V]
IMAGINE: it’s a rainy night in Melbourne’s St Kilda. Your partner has just dumped you after a huge argument. Feeling lower than a lizard’s bum, you decide to catch a cab home where you can soothe your troubles with a healing ale or six. A cab pulls over, you jump in the back, and before you can say ‘‘ Fitzroy, thanks,’’ the taxi explodes into Las Vegas- style flashing lights and loud music. The clown driving turns around and yells: ‘‘ You’re being filmed — you’re on television!’’ Well at least you’re not having a stroke.
Cash Cab is a new concept to these shores although it has a long history elsewhere. Essentially, it’s a quiz show on wheels. While there are no tedious consents or contracts signed in the first episode, which screens tonight, that and the handing over of moolah may happen off screen.
What we see is a kind of soft abduction, where en route to the passenger’s requested destination, he or she can win money. Now that will make the thing a lot more palatable to many. Abduction? What abduction?
Tonight’s first victim, er, passenger, is good- natured Kathy. We see her filmed at fairly close quarters as she is getting into the cab in a narrow lane. Didn’t she worry that at least two cameras were capturing her every move as she boarded the cab? Or perhaps the cameras were hidden on their operators.
Genial host James Kerley throws the Vegas switch just as Kathy is explaining her preferred route to the Espy, St Kilda’s grandest hotel, which is also the setting for SBS’s RockWiz .
‘‘ Oh, crap. F--- in’ hell!’’ she exclaims, as the cramped capsule of the cab bursts into colour and music.
But Kathy’s a good sport and she takes to the quiz like a duck to stale bread. ‘‘ For $ 20,’’ says Kerley, ‘‘ was Damon Albarn the lead singer of Blur or Oasis?’’
Kathy gets it right, then gets a rundown on the rules. The questions get harder and the money goes up accordingly. Three strikes and contestants are out, but they also get two lifelines. One of these can be a friend they phone, but they can also yell out to anyone on the street. As in: ‘‘ Hey you, what’s the capital of Belgium?’’
Cash Cab turns out to be Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on wheels, without the big payout. Still, Kathy exits the cab with $ 1700 she didn’t have before she got in.
Not a bad appearance fee for an unwitting TV debut.
Deals on wheels: James Kerley, the genial host of Cash Cab