The Mole/Beauty and the Geek Australia

Two of my favourite shows in my childhood were The Mole and Beauty and the Geek Australia.

The Mole

  • Season 1 of The Mole took place in Tasmania, Australia, though the season (and the whole concept as a whole) started in Melbourne. Jan Moody was the first winner and Alan Mason (who’d later become the adjudicator on The Weakest Link) was the first Mole.
  • Season 2 took place mostly in Victoria, Australia, and there was one notable assignment where the contestants had to retrieve some beacons in a large maze in the dead of night.
  • Season 3 took place in Queensland, with the bulk of the season on the Gold Coast. Personally this is my favourite season as it featured the Weakest Link assignment, where the nine remaining contestants took on Cornelia Frances and escaped with $14,100 (rounded up to $15,000; it was the lowest amount ever won on TWL). There was also an assignment where two contestants had to draw a picture of an animal on the surface of (what was then known as) ANZ Stadium in Brisbane.
  • Season 4 saw the series head abroad for the first time, with a new title: The Mole in Paradise. There were two fake eliminations this season, and there was also a cheating scandal in the penultimate episode which saved the eventual winner from being eliminated. In fact, he had also cheated elimination in round two, whereby he scored equal lowest in the pre-elimination quiz but survived because another contestant took longer. Also worth noting is that the weekly quizzes were only six questions and the final quiz was ten questions.
  • After a break in 2004, season five in 2005 took a new twist, with episodes filmed across a weekend in New Zealand and then a live elimination taking place at Martin Place. The Seven News Sydney set had to be reconfigured to allow this to occur. This season’s winner, Liz Cantor, is now a personality on Seven Gold Coast News.
  • Season six returned eight years later (in 2013) but didn’t rate well for a variety of reasons, including a new host (Shura Taft), multiple episodes taking place in a week before eliminations, a skewed format etc. This season produced the second male winner, with Hillal Kara-Ali prevailing. I know Sam Hutchins from this season personally as I met him at an AFL match in April 2014.

Beauty and the Geek Australia

  • It was brought to my attention last year that a colleague whom I was working with a few years ago featured on the show in 2010 (and at the time I wasn’t really into the show), and so I started watching a few eps from that season on YouTube. The person in question is Kara (who was paired with Tim for the series), who was eliminated in the penultimate episode.
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The first three seasons of The Mole were wonderful and some of the most enjoyable TV I’ve watched. Season 4 was pretty good but it was apparent very, very early on who “The Mole” was.

From what I recall, Season 5 lost the more mysterious angle that the show enjoyed under Grant Bowler’s hosting and went too far in the extreme action direction with Tom Williams as host. Still okay to watch but not nearly as good as the first three seasons.

The Shura Taft season was sadly one of the most disappointing pieces of television I’ve ever seen put to air, and hot on the heels of Channel 7’s terrible reboots of two of my other favourite shows, The Price Is Right (2012) and Gladiators (2008). I’ve lost all faith in Channel 7’s ability to bring back older series as a result. The programmers must have known it was a turkey too, given the way its debut was shafted and subsequent episodes repackaged and hidden away.

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Once Petrina came back from her fake elimination in episode six, I was instantly onto her as The Mole. Before that, Cam (who was eliminated in episode three, only to be resurrected before being eliminated in episode nine) was my main suspect.

I forgot to mention that there was a new subtitle for this series - “The Amazing Game”. It was like a mash-up of The Mole and The Amazing Race.

I reckon had Seven brought back Grant Bowler to host the 2013 season, it could have been better. Taft just picked up on what Williams built in the 2005 season. Still, it was one of my favourite seasons and there was no more psychological challenge than the Silent Auction - where a record $125,000 was lost (the most ever in an assignment in the history of The Mole worldwide).

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BATG was a ratings success in its first season

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Like The Mole, BATG met its demise when Bernard Curry was replaced as host by James Tobin (coincidentally the same year The Mole returned with Shura Taft as its host).

The later seasons of BATG appeared to be significantly more scripted and had very different casting, especially in relation to the men.

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The Mole is definitely one of the best Australian reality shows. I would always remember how suspenseful it was when they would all be sitting there and Grant typing their names into the computer screen and then it coming up green or red. It was always so devastating when the screen went red! Also some of those early season finales were complete edge of your seat television. I remember the first season they put them in separate jail cells and you would be waiting to see who’s key would unlock to win the prize. There is nothing as suspenseful, emotional or dramatic like this on Australian television these days!

I enjoyed all of the seasons. The Shura Taft one grew on me as it progressed. It did lose some of the original essence of the show and did drag on too long but I did end up warming too it. The one thing though that completely annoyed me was how at some point mid season they did a challenge where the prize kit pretty went down dramatically (possibly close to $0) which made the first half of the season pointless. I think it was something like they could bet money on something and of course The Mole ensured the kitty dropped dramatically. That really annoyed me.

Beauty and the Geek Australia was awful. Completely fake, manufactured and played up the stereotypes way too much. The beauties were encouraged to behave like bimbos and the geeks were dressed and told to behave certain ways by producers. The couple of US seasons that I watched actually had a bit of heart and soul to them but the Australian version really lost that.

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The 2013 season of The Mole failed because they tried to make it like MKR:
*Confession cams every 10-15 seconds
*Multiple episodes per week (which is OK for a slower-moving show like MKR or MAFS, but not for something as fast and complex as The Mole)

The lodge in Binna Burra that was featured on the third season of The Mole has been completely evacuated due to the recent Queensland bushfires.

https://www.binnaburralodge.com.au/

I was a huge fan of The Mole. What was the cheating scandal in season 4? I don’t remember anything about this.

Also I recall one series (I can’t remember which one) where the final two contestants both thought each other was the Mole, and it wasn’t until they went to fill out their last questionaire that one of the women changed her mind, which meant she won the series. I always found this a bit suspicious because if a contestant had gone through the entire show without correctly picking the Mole - without being eliminated - then why would you change your mind at the very last stage? It was almost like she was tipped off because the producers were concerned that there wouldn’t be a winner. Does anyone remember which series this was?

The cheating scandal was in season four.

From Wikipedia:

Exemption Game: The players were taken, blindfolded, to an undisclosed location. They were split into pairs (Cam and Nathan, and Shaun and Petrina) to play a math puzzle, with the pair solving it in the quicker time advancing to potentially play for a free pass through to the final round. Shaun and Petrina won this first round, and the two of them advanced to a second round where they had to answer a series of ten analogy questions. The faster there would play for the free pass, and that was Shaun. The other three were taken, still blindfolded, a kilometer away and told to find Shaun in order to stop him from winning the free pass and add $5,000 to the kitty. Shaun was back at their starting location playing a memory game with oversized cards. If he completed the game, he’d win the free pass. Nathan found the building Shaun was in within minutes and stopped him before he finished the memory game, and it seemed that the $5,000 was won. But the next day, after the computer test had been taken, and just before the elimination started, the host revealed that there was evidence that Nathan had cheated - a clip was shown of Nathan in the van slightly raising his blindfold and leaning his head back to see underneath it. Though Nathan vigorously denied cheating, the $5,000 was revoked and Shaun was awarded the free pass.

Final Four: During the confession, Cam revealed that he suspected Petrina as the mole after she came back. However, he changed his mind and he picked Shaun as the mole in the final four quiz. If Shaun did not get the exemption, he would be eliminated or if Cam did not change his mind at the final four quiz, Nathan would be eliminated. It was true that Cam scored the highest in the final five quiz.

Nathan’s name was typed in first, and the green screen appeared, relieving him. Cam’s name was typed in second, and the screen turned red.

It was season three where one of the contestants changed her mind at the very last minute to win the prize money. Also from Wikipedia:

Marc was suspicious about Alaina, but he thought Crystal-Rose was the Mole, which led to his defeat. Crystal-Rose thought it was Marc between episodes 2 and 9; no one selected Alaina as the Mole on the computer test until Crystal-Rose did at the very end. In fact, it was revealed that Crystal-Rose and Marc had suspected each other until it seemed Crystal-Rose had changed her mind right at the very last second, almost ending up in no one correctly identifying the Mole for the first time in the history of The Mole .

In season five, the winner suspected who the Mole was from (nearly) the very start because of a clue she picked up on early in the series.

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