‘The Mole’ Series Review – Sleuthy Game Show Reboot Is Good Fun
In the world of reboots we live in today, no IP is safe from potential resurrection. But in the case of the reboot of the old travel competition show The Mole which is now joining Netflix’s solid unscripted lineup, it delivers way more surprises and strategic gameplay than initially expected.
The Mole aired its first season in 2001 with a relatively-unknown Anderson Cooper as host. It was a cool concept, where the cast had a saboteur in their midst, the eponymous mole. Episodes had the participants working together in challenges to add to a prize pot, while the mole secretly attempted to derail them. Eliminations occurred every episode based on their performance in a quiz with questions about who the mole is.
The show was solid but was likely dwarfed by the success of reality competitions like Survivor which also first aired in 2001. A few celebrity seasons, and one 2008 revival later, and we’re now facing an all-new cast, a new location in Australia and a new host with MSNBC‘s Alex Wagner.
Early versions of The Mole had plenty of intrigue and twists, and it was satisfying to look back on other episodes to see the lies when you eventually learned who the mole was, but this new season really ratchets up the strategy. These players have a bunch of different approaches, with several trying to intentionally drum up suspicion during challenges to throw off their allies in the quiz and other surprisingly nuanced strategies like this that kept you always guessing.
The challenges were pretty exciting and had plenty of variety, with the group also going on a sweeping journey of Australia’s plains, rainforests, and even snow-capped mountains. The extra strategy involved in team coordination, when they had to consider where to place the person who may be the mole, was also a very satisfying element to watch play out.
In general, the cast is charismatic and delivers what you’ll want from a Netflix reality series. You’ll have fun picking favorites and arguing over who the mole is, and without spoilers, the mole themself made a strong performance with some successful sabotages in the mix. Wagner is perfectly serviceable as the host for this format but didn’t seem entirely comfortable when it came to group chemistry, though the cast probably spent much more time together overall.
Some repetitiveness did seep into the series with the quiz sequences and pre-quiz discussions that just couldn’t hold a candle to the challenges. The show would be well-served to think of some ways to add variety to the quizzes besides more difficult questions as well.
Ultimately, The Mole isn’t something that’s going to stick in your mind for very long or change your opinions on reality or competition shows, but if it’s up your alley, it’s very up your alley. If you are feeling the streaming service curse of just scrolling and scrolling without deciding on anything, The Mole is a fun time that may deliver more surprises than you expect.
The Mole is available to stream on Netflix
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