Billed as the ‘fastest gameshow in the known universe’, Reflex’s running time of 45 minutes is therefore a perpetual disappointment and from watching it, a slap in the face to literalism. Failing in only the way that BBC gameshows can, it strikes an uneasy and unwise balance between the futuristic severity of The Cube and raucous family fun of The Generation Game; a dystopian hellscape with Radio 2 on in the background *shudder*.
The show hangs it’s hat on the use of slow motion cameras to capture the super quick tasks the teams are set. Sadly, it is in this that the problems lie, as there is about 1 minute of actual action stretched beyond breaking point with replays replaying ad infinitum. One task involved the contestants lying on a large balloon which is then popped and upon landing on a crash mat they have to hit out a light; in real time, that would last 2 seconds but with Reflex it was:
Slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* person falling *cut* person falling *cut* person falling *cut* person falling and on for three more minutes.
I was trying so hard to stop myself from screaming that I burst a blood vessel in my eye, so desperate was I to be rescued from the tyranny of slow motion (those who have walked behind tourists on London streets will know exactly the problem). Effects like these are meant to accentuate the details of the games rather than provide the context of it; viewers need to get a sense of how quickly these games are over to appreciate the use of the slow motion cameras as opposed to be given blunt force trauma by them.
Then there is Shane Richie, who doesn’t need to have a ‘slo-mo’ camera to make time feel like it is standing still. His jokes are older than the tired polo shirts they make the teams wear and all delivered with the cheeky insouciance of that person in the pub who you wish would choke on a pork scratching.
In all, Reflex is like a man on a rack being slowly pulled apart. And when it happens, I’d love to see it in slow-motion.