THE CHASE EP Vincent Rubino on Season 2 Changes, Adding Mark Labbett, and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE CHASE EP Vincent Rubino on Season 2 Changes, Adding Mark Labbett, and More

June 6, 2021 by  

The Chase season 2 spoilers

THE CHASE – ABC’s “The Chase” stars Brad Rutter, Mark Labbett, Sara Haines, Ken Jennings, and James Holzhauer. (ABC/Peggy Sirota)

THE CHASE returns for season 2 on Sunday, June 6 as a new batch of contestants team up in an attempt to take on the squad of Chasers, hoping to both outwit them one-on-one in the Cash Builder round, and then, in success, as part of a team effort in the final round.

But in season 2, the Chasers are getting a little bit of help. In addition to the JEOPARDY GOATs—James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter—returning, Mark Labbett (who has appeared on international versions of the show for a dozen years, as well as the GSN version that ran in the 2010s) has joined the mix.

“We wanted to bring in Mark Labbett, The Beast, from the UK, which was one of my favorite things to do,” executive producer Vincent Rubino explains. “Rob Mills, [an executive] from ABC, had always wanted to do that from the get-go, but we felt like we need to break the show in primetime with people that America knew, the GOATs, and then season 2, we could introduce Mark. And it was the right time, that’s for sure.”

Here, Rubino talks about the changes the show made between seasons, how The Beast is shaking up the show, finding the right contestants, and more…

As you set out to make season 2, what was the biggest priority? What kind of tweaks did you want to make to what viewers saw in season 1?

The most important thing was we wanted to make sure that we made the game more interesting in terms of the risk and reward. Starting out with the show, in primetime, having known that it was on GSN for years, and did very well there, and [that] we’re also asking people to come on the show, and pit themselves against one of the GOATs from’s a little daunting. So we knew that we’d have to make the game material very challenging for not only the JEOPARDY people, but also for the contestants. So, if they were going to step in the ring, we figured in the Cash Build round, let’s make it $25,000 per correct answer, because if the people get three or four right, at least they made $75,000 or $100,000. But maybe they’ll go for the higher offers.

Well, what happened was people were getting $100,000 or $75,000, but weren’t going for anything beyond that. We knew that was going to happen, but it was a way to get the show out there. So you realize, okay, so now in this season, let’s make now the Cash Builder [round pays out] $10,000 a correct answer, so that if somebody got a run of seven, it only makes [their winnings] $70,000, which is still good money. But if they wanted to get serious money, they then consider higher offers [which would put the Chaser one move closer to beating them]. That was one of the tweaks we wanted to make.

The second [thing] was we decided to make sure that the questions were read with a pace that people could understand. [Host] Sara [Haines] has the ability to read super fast, but we told her as the time wore down, to speed up a little bit. And it’s very hard for people at home to hear what she’s saying if she talks too fast. Well, people were very upset about that, asking why she is she not reading faster? So we decided for the second season, to make sure that the questions were read faster; there’s more of a pace to the show, and [we] move the entire thing along a lot faster.

Looking at the addition of Mark, the GOATs have known each other for years. How has adding a new competitor to the mix changed the group dynamic?

I look at the game as if it’s almost like professional wrestling, and all these Chasers are the characters they play: The Professor (Jennings), The High Roller (Holzhauer), The Buzzsaw (Rutter), and Mark is The Beast. And he comes in like the bad guy, he’s from the UK, he’s done 600 episodes of this. They all have this camaraderie, because they’re all on the same team. They’re all…not rooting for each other, they’re all competitive with each other, but there is a sort of like a camaraderie when they’re in that Chaser lounge, watching the other Chaser, take on a team of contestants.

So, it added for a much more spirited Chaser lounge, where you got to hear a lot about how these guys think, how they would play the game. And I think that made for a very interesting side show, which is always what their Chaser’s lounge was meant to be. It’s sort of like this little side parlor where, because you’re backstage, [you’re seeing] what these guys are talking about watching their friend perform.

On that note, what has the balance been in how much you showcase their reaction to the gameplay? It feels like there could be an entire secondary show as the Chasers react and trash talk the game from that room…
It’s funny you say that, because last season, we only had only two people in the lounge. So we used it where we could, where it made sense.

But this year, with three people, there was so much more stuff. You have to choose your battles, because at the end of the day, you have to serve the show. And if the Chaser lounge material is really funny and great, and it’s serving the show, great. But if it takes time out of the show, you’ve got to be really careful about how you do that.

We try and put at least one cut from the Chaser lounge in a segment. If there’s two or three more, great, but the show has over 160 questions in every episode. There’s a lot of material that has to get shown on the air. So you’ve got to really balance your material.

We’ve actually talked about running a simulcast of the director’s cut of what’s happening simultaneously in the Chaser’s lounge throughout the whole [show], which is actually a great idea. We’ve not gotten there yet, but I think as the show builds, there’s certainly a discussion going on about that. There are certain things that we don’t put in, because sometimes they get really tough with each other, beating up on the other Chasers while they’re in the chair, because it’s three against one. Sometimes that’s fun, sometimes it gets a little heavy-handed, so you can cut that out—for right now, anyway.

How did the contestants’ approach change this go-round now that they, in theory, could have watched a season of the primetime show and gotten a feel for how the Chasers worked in this format?

They know the format now, and they [think they] know how are they going to beat this Chaser. Well, if they get together in time, before the show, they can start plotting. We specifically do not let the contestants know who they’re partnered with until they go on stage for that reason, because we don’t want them planning. They can help make the decisions while they’re on stage, but it’s really about everybody’s individual performances, and how they stack up against [the Chaser when they go head-to-head], whether they make it to the final Chase or not. And as a result, our contestants are getting smarter and smarter, as are the Chasers.

So, it’s now a question of just balancing the game material, so that it covers a wide breadth of knowledge and information, because we try to be very inclusive. That means you’re going to hear things from all different walks of life; things that you should know, because we are a modern global society. And it’s a multicultural country, and all of those cultures watch the show. So we want to make sure that everyone is represented well. And the great teams make sure of that, from all walks of life, and that sort of proves itself out in very different ways. It’s surprising what the Chasers do or don’t know. It’s surprising what people do not know. And it’s reflective of our society. And one of the things I really was proud of last season was watching online, on Twitter, what people were saying. When there’s a question about [something underrepresented people would say],”I cannot believe I saw that in a game show! My family is being represented in this show!” And that’s the greatest thing in the world, to get that inclusiveness in this country, which is so important, especially at this time. And that’s one of the things we strive to do, to make a very point of doing, when we write the show.

Frequently on reality shows, tragic or difficult backstories are amplified to build sympathy for contestants. In a show like this, where there is a real chance the contestant won’t make it past the first round—let alone get the money in the end—how do you approach what kind of contestants you bring on?
That’s one of the challenges of the show, because, first of all, you want to meet these people and understand as a viewer, why is this person on the show? They have gone through rigorous testing and past all of that, they have an interesting backstory. Some of it maybe money-based; most of the time I try and stay away from that, primarily.

We always ask, what do you want to do with the money? And if it’s something fun and interesting [that’s one thing]. But if it’s something about, “Oh, my parents passed away…” it’s a really tough thing as a producer to put that on the air, because that person may not win the money. And then it’s a very frustrating for a viewer. So I tend to stay on the lighter side of things of money and their personal stories, primarily because of just that reason. You don’t want to build up this great story about this money could change their life, and then when it doesn’t, it’s like, “Oh my god.” The Chasers would look like horrible people for beating them at this game. So it’s a very, very fine balance. There’s a lot of moving parts. And that’s one of them.

It’s a weird show, because at the end of the day, people walk away with no money, but that’s how the game is played. But again, in our last season, I want to say that probably 40% of the shows were winning shows for people. Maybe more, but I think it was around 40.

As far as the game goes, it’s not WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, or something like that. It’s really up to those people [on those shows], if they get the questions right, they win the money. If they lose, it’s their loss. Here, the show, the house is responsible for them losing, because the Chaser won. You don’t want those stakes to be that imbalanced, like that, as far as the stories go.

Completely understandable. Looking to season 2, what are you most excited for fans to see?
Mark is amazing. He comes out swinging in the second episode. Ken Jennings in the premiere episode is just amazing. What these guys do and say is nothing short of fascinating, what their depth of knowledge is. And Brad “The Buzzsaw” Rutter has a great episode. And there’s a James Holzhauer episode, I don’t know where it goes in the run, but it is amazing. Just an amazing, unexpected, unbelievable episode that’s coming down the pike. There’s a lot of twists and turns.

This is the first show that I ever worked on where, while the first season was airing, we got picked up for a second season, and then they ordered 18 episodes. So we shot 18 over a three-week period. And I had the luxury of looking at 18 shows, and getting to split them up into two different runs, and try to balance [everything]…I had three or four different choices of what I could premiere with in the second season. I had to make my choices for the first season in the first weekend, because we had to turn it around so quickly. But I had a wealth of great episodes to choose from.

I will say this: across all those, the most consistent person in there is Sara Haines. She is one of the most amazing talents I’ve ever worked with. She’s so good at the show, and she has gotten better and better at it. She took on a show that was very well loved by people in America, especially the GSN version, who didn’t want to see anybody but Brooke Burns [as host], who did a great job, as well.

Sara was an ABC person, and it was a primetime debut for her. She stepped in and she worked hard to master it. And I think she does a great job. She’s very accessible and interested and interesting, and I find her to be a really, really strong talent. She has a great rapport with the Chasers and a real advocate for the contestants, which is all you want from that person. And she’s funny as hell.

THE CHASE, Season Premiere, Sunday, June 6, 9/8c, ABC

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