The pitch may sound strange, but let me assure you that I have never fallen in love with a game show the way I have fallen in love with “Taskmaster.” If I die without getting to be a contestant on this show — and I probably will, since I’m not a British comedian and the American version of the show didn’t catch on — I’ll die very unhappy indeed.
Over the course of over one dozen series, “Taskmaster” has built up a peculiar identity for itself. The “Taskmaster” house, where the majority of the challenges take place, is an odd little building with design elements that change from series to series, and little nooks and crannies with surprising secrets and useful tools. The tasks themselves arrive in folded white paper, stamped with a wax imprint of the “Taskmaster” logo. Sometimes they are hidden, or delivered by a surrogate, like a remote-controlled mouse.
While some of the tasks are amusingly rudimental — some read only “Sneeze” or “Don’t Blink” — others are bizarrely elaborate, and require contestants to closely follow bizarre rules or get brutally disqualified. Others reward lateral thinking, like a challenge to build a house out of beer coasters, but you also have to run outside and ring the doorbell on the house before the timer ticks down from 60 seconds, then before it ticks down from 58 seconds, and so on. Some contestants do that task as written, constantly running themselves ragged, but one of them just removes the doorbell and takes it back into the staging area with them, calmly pressing it without the added stress.
Most game shows require you to know specific information or show off your expertise in a particular field. “Taskmaster” requires you to solve problems in your own unique way and be completely surprised by how everyone else’s brains work.