007: Road To A Million TV Review

The James Bond franchise expands with a reality series boasting Brian Cox, licensed music, and little else.

Last Updated on November 21, 2023

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCplwznPIWQ

PLOT:  Nine pairs of everyday people are unleashed on an epic global adventure through a series of Bond-inspired challenges, for a shot at winning a life- changing £1,000,000 prize. The Controller (Brian Cox) is the mastermind behind the game, watching the pairs as they hunt for 10 questions he’s hidden around the world. Find them, answer them, win £1,000,000… But it won’t be that easy!

REVIEW: When Amazon purchased MGM, they added much more than just an iconic studio. With the rights to multiple franchises, Amazon gained much intellectual property but was not more lucrative than the James Bond library. With No Time To Die bringing Daniel Craig’s tenure to a close, the 007 universe is set for a relaunch with a new leading man. Along with the big screen potential, Amazon and MGM are partnering with longtime Bond steward Eon Productions to expand the scope of what Ian Fleming’s legendary character is capable of. First, we get a reality series because it wouldn’t be modern entertainment if they didn’t. 007: Road To A Million plays with the convention of survival reality shows like The Amazing Race and Survivor but with the musical score, cinematic stylings, and tone of a James Bond adventure.

007: Road To A Million opens with two contestants assessing a massive challenge involving a crane and a briefcase before cutting to an extended voiceover presentation by The Controller. Played by Succession star Brian Cox, who was under the impression that he was signing up to star in the next actual James Bond feature film, The Controller is straight out of 007’s rogue’s gallery. In a shady office surrounded by monitors, The Controller has a million pounds ready to be paid out to each of nine pairs of contestants who can answer trivia questions that are a blend of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Jeopardy! The tasks fill a full hour-long episode each time, with the stakes being raised in more challenging questions and physical stunts meant to evoke these average people living a real-life Bond adventure.

Unfortunately, even the most die-hard James Bond aficionado will be bored by this series. The challenges pale compared to things we have seen on other reality shows, and the pacing is way off. The first episode alone struggles to make us care about the contestants, possibly due to the format following them in their actions or on Brian Cox spouting villainous bon mots from his isolated location. The only interactions we focus on are the paired challengers with each other. The nine couplings are on their adventures simultaneously at different global locations, and their journeys are intercut with one another to try and build some momentum. The trouble is that the scenes linger far too long in meaningless silence and try to create tension where there is no genuine tension. In typical reality show fashion, there are cliffhangers built into each episode to keep you enthralled until the next hour, but it is almost always an anticlimactic pause before the next sequence.

The format of the series keeps the contestants engaged over the entire series, with those failing falling by the wayside as the season progresses. Fans are meant to have favorites and root for the twosome they like the most. I had some favorites in the pairs, but most were not exciting enough for me to care about following for over eight hours of programming. Brian Cox, who is entertaining even as the voiceover pitchman for McDonald’s, struggles to generate any energy in this role. Quietly affecting a British accent rather than his native Scots, Cox spends most of his screen time in a dark room in sequences clearly filmed after the fact. Whenever his voice is heard with the contestant in earshot, I am confident he was added in post-production. So much of this series wants to evoke James Bond, but not all that much in the actual tasks themselves feel like something from the movies.

007: Road to a Million

While the tasks and trivia are not up to par, the series does use locations from the 007 films. The first episode opens with the road that James Bond drives when he takes M to Skyfall. There are also appearances from multiple vehicles featured in films like Goldfinger and general landscapes like the Grand Canal from Casino Royale. Many shows could have shot scenes in these locations and made them look cinematic. Still, whenever this series does not show a gorgeous vista, we focus on the contestants in close-ups within deliberately set-up locales. How often does James Bond happen upon a harness and a rig along with instructions on using it? Obviously, this series is not a fictional movie following a world-class spy, but it looks and feels more like an amusement park ride than a well-executed game show.

As a big James Bond fan, I am disappointed at how lame this series is. While I am mostly indifferent to reality series, I had higher expectations for this show. Using the 007 license should have created a more intense and exciting challenge series. Instead, we get bickering pairs who must answer ridiculous trivia questions because they come from a master criminal. As great as the always outspoken Brian Cox always is, this series wastes his talents and those of everyone involved. Moving forward, if Amazon is going to milk the expensive investment they made in MGM and the James Bond franchise, it better be a lot more entertaining than 007: Road To A Million.

007: Road To A Million premieres on November 10th on Prime Video.

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.