By the conclusion of Sunday’s taping of High School Quiz Show, two things were abundantly clear: Team Hamilton-Wenham follows Lady Gaga but not James Bond and the future of this country is brighter than a blow torch.
Waiting behind the scenes at WGBH’s Calderwood studio in Brighton before the taping at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the team of six showed little interest in the healthy snacks provided. The bags of trail mix went largely untouched. Nor did the team demonstrate much interest in or need for the “hey, let’s get to know each other and loosen up” chatter of WGBH’s designated greetings and good cheer prep person
If there were jittery nerves in the room, they didn’t belong to anyone on Hamilton-Wenham’s team. Like seasoned TV actors, politicians, heads of state, brain surgeons or rocket scientists at lift off - the team was chill. Team member Emma Sandler hinted at the source of their calm saying; “We usually do pretty well.”
And if the team members were, if not torpid, were certainly quiet. A two-day Model UN conference that closed with a late night dance the night before served as a partial explanation. Most of the team attended. Greg Lidrbauch, in fact, is not only a co-captain of the Hamilton-Wenham Quiz Show team but also a vice president of Model UN.
At 11:15 a.m., a signal was given and Hamilton-Wenham and its opponent, Shepherd Hill School of Dudley, walked single file through a tight corridor to the immaculate set of Quiz Show. And with cameras ready, each team took their places facing High School Quiz Show host Billy Costa and an energized studio audience comprised of mothers, fathers, school superintendents and even pony-tailed and pom-ponned cheerleaders.
After prepping everyone on set and egging on the audience, Costa introduced the show with a couple of takes. With that the lights shifted, Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump it Up’ burst out of speakers and men with headsets and cameras of various shapes and sizes made fine adjustments and captured close-ups.
Moments later the competition began, their hands poised on buzzers, Costa addressed the contestants with the first question. Soon the pace was so fast it was difficult to follow the jousting.
When the fiercely competitive first round ended the studio lights shifted again, and as a make-up wielding attendant approached, Costa turned to the audience and asked, the cheering crowd “You feeling good? Absolutely! Absolutely!"
Thirty minutes or so later the match was decided - at least on tape in the studio. Everyone present are sworn to secrecy. The only way to learn which team prevailed is to tune to WGBH, channel 2, at 7 p.m. on March 20.
After and six playoff matches, the single-elimination tournament ends with the eastern Massachusetts championship, which will air on WGBH in May. The winners from eastern and western Mass will face off in a statewide championship airing in June.