Is that Your Final Answer?

Slagalica "The Puzzle"

During my stay in Belgrade, I was the beneficiary of a very warm Serbian welcome by my cousin and his girlfriend, who much to my delight, are popular game show competitors in Serbia. Yes, I’m pleased to add them to my growing list of fascinating and eclectic relatives. My quest was to discover what the lifestyle of real locals was like, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these two have been deeply entrenched in the Serbian quiz show world for the last twenty years. They started out in radio quiz shows in the early 90s.  As formats evolved, they found themselves competing on national television and even getting to travel for championships around the country.

Hearing all of this, I was curious to see if quiz shows in Serbia were similar to what you’d see in the States. Though a few are modeled after popular British or American shows, the Serbian versions seem to be less gimmicky and more focused on the actual quizzing than their foreign counterparts.  The shows are a combination of trivia, general knowledge, and word and numbers puzzles. Their seems to be a group of competitors that see each other again and again at various quiz events, bolstering both healthy competition and camaraderie among the participants. Prizes range from a simple household items like a Turkish coffee pot to more substantial cash checks. These modest prizes are nothing like their American equivalents, proving that these competitors are really in it for the right reasons: intellectual stimulation, fun, learning, and the pursuit of a hobby. Game shows in the states usually have competitors winning incredibly outlandish prizes such as first class vacations to Tahiti, New Luxury Sports Cars, and Cash prizes into the 6 digits. This obsession with over the top, larger than life prizes takes the focus away from the actual game itself as the viewers drool over the latest lucky winner’s new loot. With reality TV taking over the airwaves in the US, and game shows getting more and more outlandish, there is something refreshing about the down to earth authenticity about the Serbian quiz shows.

In the former Yugoslavia, famous host Oliver Mlakar popularized the show, Kviskoteka in the 70s and 80s on TV Zagreb, but now, quiz shows such as Slagalica (The Puzzle) and Veliki Izazov (The Big Challenge) are the mainstays. These quiz shows are professionally filmed, produced with modern studios and on par with Western shows despite an obviously smaller budget.

In a country where unemployment is always a problem and opportunities are less than abundant, quiz shows provide a welcome creative outlet and an escape from the daily grind.  Competitors get a chance to use their knowledge, expertise in a field, or mental prowess to travel, make new friends, gain a few small prizes, and even enjoy a little popularity in their local community – breaks that many people don’t have.  After all, who wouldn’t be flattered to be recognized as a TV personality when perusing one’s local pijaca?

Serbian National Quizzing Team in Pančevo - June 2011

Try out a fun Serbian mini quiz here.

I got 8 out of 10 correct on this simple Serbian Quiz. Not terrible for a non-Serb, right? What’s your score?

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4 thoughts on “Is that Your Final Answer?

  1. 95%

    Poor quiz. Yugoslavia (officially) stopped being Kingdom after the war, when Commies took it over, in ’45. not ’41. as the quiz maker thinks. And no1 actually lost/won Kosovo battle, it was draw. Smederevo and Golubac have in common: location on Danube and fortresses, but the quiz maker missed Danube part as well…

    Please, change blog to black text on white, as before, because, this style hurts eyes while reading 🙂

  2. 9 out of 10 ! History is not quite in my line, so I made one mistake, in spite the fact I presumed the right answer. Actually, Mostovljanin is right about the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, although there is still a dilema how to define those hard 4 years of anarchy during the WW II. And, of course, Golubac and Smederevo, what a coincidence, are fortresses on the Danube river! Thanks for well elaborated post!

    • Thanks for the comment Tweety! Tried to find a pic of you or Rade competing on TV so I could include it in this post – but alas, none came up on google 😦 I find it really interesting that you and Mostovljanin are finding errors in the quiz. They need to be corrected!

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