007: Road to a Million

007: Road to a Million

This James Bond-inspired game show is only casual viewing, unless you’re a 007 superfan

6.5

TV Show

United Kingdom, United States of America
English
Action & Adventure, Reality
2023
Brian Cox

TLDR

Brian Cox apparently thought he was being offered a role in a Bond movie when he signed on to this — disappointment that’s plain to see in his hilariously low-effort contributions to the show.

What it's about

Nine pairs of people travel the world and undertake James Bond-inspired challenges for a chance at winning £1 million.

The take

While the identity of the post-Daniel Craig James Bond hangs in limbo, the franchise is branching out into TV with this mid-octane game show, which riffs on tried-and-tested reality TV competitions: its multiple choice questions and climb-the-ladder approach to prize money are evidently borrowed from Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, while its globetrotting recalls The Amazing Race.

For all its snazzy backdrops, though, this still feels like a half-hearted effort. The editing is partly to blame: in the first two episodes, for example, we only meet four of the nine pairs, and we’re constantly jumping back to the opening challenge in the Scottish Highlands for their introductions. There’s also zero interaction between any of the duos: they never meet or even acknowledge each other's existence, which dulls the drama and leaves you to suspect their scenes were all shot entirely in isolation. (You get the same impression from Brian Cox, who plays the mysterious mastermind behind the challenges and whose vague commentary is clearly designed so editors can slot it in wherever.) While there are plenty of Easter eggs for eagle-eyed Bond fans to spot, the show is definitively of the background-watch kind of TV: moderately interesting, but never as gripping as the movies whose coattails it’s plainly riding.

What stands out

The one area the show does put in considerable effort is one that’s unfortunately easily lost on viewers who aren’t Bond aficionados: the constant references to its infinitely more exciting cinematic counterparts. The films serve as inspiration for everything from the show's visual and musical motifs to the locations, some (clearly contrived) scenes, and the challenges the pairs have to solve — for example, the second episode tasks married couple Josh and Kamara with climbing a crane to retrieve a briefcase, a clear callback to the spectacular Madagascar chase sequence in Craig’s first Bond outing in Casino Royale.

Allusions to the movies also come by way of the vehicles that contestants drive (some of which are the actual cars featured in the films) and all manner of props that only a real Bond head would recognize. If you’re interested, Prime Video dutifully lists all the Easter eggs in its X-Ray feature — but it says something that, unless you’re a 007 nerd, Road to a Million isn’t gripping enough to quell the urge to multitask while watching.

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