007: Road To A Million – A Review

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A review of the new James Bond based reality show 007: Road To A Million, where contestants compete to win cash from host Brian Cox

Brian-Cox-host-007-Road-To-A-Million-James-Bond-realtiy-show

James Bond fans have been anxiously awaiting some kind of news about what will come next for the film series. Eon producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson haven’t given any kind of indication of what fans can expect for the next era of Bond, which will begin with Bond 26.

Nope, there have been no announcements regarding it. In fact, recently Bond fans have been feeling quite letdown when Broccoli said, work “hasn’t even begun” for the next film. This has has left fans feeling quite shaken and disturbed. 

They haven’t done anything to start preparing for the next Bond film? Filming wrapped on the last Bond film No Time To Die in late 2019. It had a delayed release in November 2021. Throughout 2022, Daniel Craig was given a year-long farewell celebration retiring from the role of 007.

Barbara-Broccoli-Michael-G-Wilson-James-Bond-producers-casting-new-007And still no work has progressed (or at least that’s what they’re saying).

It’s kind of understandable why Bond fans would feel a bit frustrated at the lack of progress by Eon to get to work on Bond 26. While a lot of fans are ready to move on from the Craig era, it appears Eon is still in mourning and not quite ready to move on from him yet. With no real Bond news, fans have been treated to endless rumors and clickbait headlines speculating as to who the next Bond actor might be. I figure this will go on for quite awhile.

Do yourself a favor and don’t pay too much mind to that stuff and just wait until Eon is ready to make some kind of official announcement. 

In the meantime, Broccoli and Wilson have kept busy, but not with planning Bond 26. 

In 2021 Amazon purchased MGM. With that they acquired ownership over the MGM library of films, including classics like Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and the Rocky films. They also got ahold of the James Bond franchise.

Well, technically they own 50% of it, the other half remains with Eon who maintain complete creative control over the films and nothing Bond-related can get made without Broccoli and Wilson’s approval.

Apparently, something Amazon and Eon came to an agreement on was to make 007: Road To A Million. 

Barbara-Broccoli-007-Road-To-A-Million-TV-reality-show-James-BondNo, it’s not a James Bond film, but a reality game show that uses James Bond as a template. The Amazon Prime series even had a big theatrical premiere, much like the Bond films would.

The premise – nine pairs of contestants must accomplish Bond-like challenges and travel to Bond-related locations around the world. They must accomplish a challenge, answer questions and if they succeed, they will move onto the next challenge, all in the hope to win big cash. Brian Cox is the mysterious host known as ‘The Controller’ who oversees the competition from his studio lair.

The show has got the Bond music. The imagery. Some Bond vehicles. Film clips. The 007 logo. And it’s all filmed beautifully. It does manage to capture the beauty and grandeur of the locations. 

After watching the first two episodes I wasn’t too impressed.

The-Amazing-Race-host-Phil-Keoghan
Host Phil Keoghan of the superior The Amazing Race

The show is a more a lackluster version of The Amazing Race, a show that I’ve watched from its beginning and still after all these years is very entertaining. I couldn’t help comparing 007: Road To A Million with it while watching, since it is very similar. It’s a globetrotting race where competitors have to get to specific locations, complete a task and get the next clue.

The Amazing Race is much faster paced, more exciting, there’s entertaining interactions between the contestants and it’s a race! It goes back and forth between racers and there’s always something stressful happening to someone. They have to run, move fast and beat their competitors!

The Amazing Race has been on since 2001 and it has mastered this type of travelogue/reality game show format. Eon should have used it as more of an inspiration. 

Road To A Million is much, much slower paced. The contestants are isolated from one another. Everyone is at a different location, so there’s no real connection between them or what they’re doing. On top of which, during the first two challenges we see there’s no ticking clock on them to find a location or answer a question. They just casually walk to the marked location and open a laptop with the question. Often times it felt like I was just watching a couple of people geocaching on a lazy weekend. 

007-Road-To-A-Million-James-Bond-Amazon-Prime-reality-show-reviewNo matter how exotic or beautiful the location they’re sitting in, it’s not exciting watching two people sitting trying to decide on an answer to a multiple choice question. It was a lethargic chore to watch. I kept asking myself, “They dropped these people in the middle of the Scottish Highlands and they’re just going to have them answer a question on a laptop???”

Couldn’t Cox have made them do something a tiny bit more exciting? Going back to The Amazing Race, at least the contestants are tasked with having to learn a local dance or wash an elephant or do something more visually interesting to watch and is associated with the location they’re in. Here, we just watch two people go back and forth asking each other, “Should we choose A or C then?” 

Plus, I don’t know what answering a question about Shakespeare has anything to do with James Bond.

The dramatic music and pauses, the inclusion of them opening marked smoke grenades for their answers, it does little to add excitement and the segments get dragged out extremely slowly. A final task for two English blokes to measure a boa constrictor is a bit more entertaining, but it’s more unintentionally humorous than suspenseful for this globetrotting game. 

007-Road-To-A-Million-Amazon-Prime-James-Bond-reality-showOther than the most superficial aspects of it, I don’t see a lot of James Bond characteristics to the challenges. I guess because there was a suitcase like that one in a Bond movie once and 007 fought with a boa constrictor in another movie, that’s the connection. Is that what this ‘007 Road’ is meant to invoke?

The second episode picks up a bit with a more difficult challenge with a couple having to climb a crane – ala Craig – to fetch another one of those briefcases. Once they retrieve the briefcase they have to answer another multiple choice question from Cox.

This is the regular routine. There’s a ‘Bond location’ the two are in. There’s a ‘Bond element’, like climbing a crane or having a tarantula in the room (they kind of stretch the Bond-inspired challenges), then they have to answer a question on the laptop, like how much does the tarantula weigh. With each question the pair get right, they win more money.

I wasn’t timing it, but it seemed like most of the time in the show are spent on the drawn out scenes of the contestants debating on which answers they should select. It got tedious very quickly. 

By the way the locations seemed to lean in heavy with Craig’s Bond locations. The Scottish Highlands, Italy and Venice were in the first two episodes. Broccoli still can’t get Craig off her mind I guess.

Brian-Cox-host-007-Road-To-A-Million-James-Bond-reality-showHolding all this together is a melodramatic Cox, who watches all the action on his wall of monitors. Initially, when he was first contacted for the show he thought he was being cast as the villain in a new Bond film. That might be why he really over does his part acting more like a mysterious Bond villain than a game show host.

I guess Cox saw this as his only chance to play Blofeld or M. It just started to get sillier and sillier as it went on. The tone just didn’t work for me. It began to all feel very artificial, slow moving and I didn’t become invested in the tasks or the contestants.  

It’s a shame they didn’t recruit someone associated with the Bond films to host the show. Get someone who appeared in a Bond film to play ‘The Controller’. Heck, if they really wanted to make a Bond connection, having one of the former Bonds as host would certainly have had elevated the status of the show. Pierce Brosnan has been hosting History’s Greatest Heists docuseries. This role of ‘The Controller’ seems ideal to want to get him for. Although, being associated with this show wouldn’t have been a feather in the cap of his career. 

For all its buildup, the show ends up being pretty unexciting. I’m not sure if this was worth Eons time to pursue. If the Bond films were this bland they never would have made it past Dr. No

At the very least the music and opening titles are good and has a Bond flair. David Arnold did the opening intro song and sets you up for some Bond fun that unfortunately never comes. The soundtrack might be worth getting. 

007-Road-To-A-Million-James-Bond-reality-show-Amazon-Prime-reviewAs for the show, I don’t think it’s something Bond fans wanted and based on the two episodes I watched, it didn’t win me over and think I’m glad Eon decided to produce this. I’ll repeat it again, if you’re interested in a type of show like this then The Amazing Race is a much better bet to watch.

It might have some Bond iconography sprinkled over it, but the show doesn’t get any better than just a routine location bouncing reality competition, that I’ve seen done much better than this. It almost started to remind me of a James Bond Monopoly or James Bond Clue boardgame. They sell the IP to be stamped onto an already existing product to make a ‘special edition’ of it. The game is still basically the same, they only painted over it with some 007 flourishes.

It’s too bad they didn’t think of anything unique to add to the reality show format other than those inconsequential Bond elements that try to give it a brand identity, but take that away and it’s just a an inferior Amazing Race/Who Wants To Be A Millionaire hybrid ‘007 edition’ that’s not done well at all. There’s much more difficult, thrilling and amusing challenges contestants have to do on The Amazing Race. I don’t see any reason why this show should get any attention. 

Maybe some will enjoy it, but while looking big and cinematic, there is very little entertaining content within this glossy show. I don’t plan on watching it any further. I thought I read that they’re already planning a second season for Road To A Million. Maybe they’ll improve on it. Although, I’d much rather hear some news about the next Bond film than another season of this. There’s no word if a James Bond cooking show is in the cards for Eon. 

I wonder if the ‘The Controller’ will ever show up in any of the films.

If reality shows aren’t your thing, and a James Bond-inspired one doesn’t move the needle for you, I have an alternative thing to recommend!

Vice TV just recently ran a six-part docu-series about the Bond film series called Icons Unearthed: James Bond. It covers the early beginnings from Ian Fleming’s books, how the film series began, casting every Bond actor, issues with Kevin McClory and the impact the series has had on pop culture and cinema. I really enjoyed it and recommend it. 

You’ll find the first episode of Icons Unearthed: James Bond below!

 

The trailer for Icons Unearthed: James Bond

 

And now that you’re intrigued enough, enjoy the first episode! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BXTz9bDgBs

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