Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 5

Week 5 and we’re in a groove, so I’ll just be copy/pasting my recap notes if that’s ok … just like last week. Although I’m adding a new stat, see below. I’m reviewing the reality TV show Mental Samurai but from a box score perspective. Every week I rundown each contestants performance. Since Mental Samurai is a timed trivia game show, the box score is pretty simple – how quick and how far does each player go?

In case you haven’t seen the show — which is streamable at Fox — contestants are strapped into a gyroscope, called Ava, flung around between four towers and asked a series of trivia questions. Answer 12 in a row, win $10,000. Answer four more, win $25,000 per question. Answer all 16, win the title of Mental Samurai. I run down the category types and subcategories that appear in my week one writeup if you’re new.

Also, as always future contestant Chris Yeh’s podcast often has bonus content for the show, so subscribe to that if you haven’t already.

Below is each contestants “box score” with a little analysis. A reminder of the stats I’m tracking:

  • Category: The category of the question – Knowledge, Puzzles, Sequence, or Memory
  • Subcategory: Each category has a selection of types. I list these in depth in my week one write up.
  • Travel Time: How long it takes for Ava to settle the contestant in front of the tower with the question up in front of them.
  • Start time: What the countdown is at (in seconds) when the question is first visible to the contestant.
  • End time: When Ava flashes green or red, signifying the contestants answer has been registered.
  • Answer time: The time between the start time and end time. In theory, below 18 seconds is ideal for this.
  • Required Pace (new): How quick the contestant must, on average, answer each of the remaining questions. This assumes an average of 8 second travel time between each question.

I decided to add Required Pace after Jameson’s run last week. Examining how fast a contestant answer each question as fast enough or not is fine. That said, the real question is if they can complete the course, so the Required Pace stat helps with that. Going into this week, the “worst” required pace we got to was Mitch Emerson in week two at 8 seconds. Spoiler alert, that gets shattered this week.

Glenn Hetrick

55-year-old airline pilot. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and gives himself the nickname of “Flying Samurai.” I love it!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesPicture Perfect03002841617.7
2KnowledgeTrue Lies9275266917.7
3SequenceMeasure Up72592411818.7
4MemoryEcho Chamber92322211118.7
7PuzzlesMatch Box111551352019.2
9PuzzlesMissing Piece9109951421.3
10MemoryMind Field887721523.7
11SequenceTime Warp963224127.5
  1. Identify the Four-Word Phrase represented by a picture of a butterflies in a stomach.
  2. A seismograph is commonly referred to as a lie detector: Nope.
  3. Arrange Daniels from shortest to tallest: DeVito, Radcliffe, Day Lewis
  4. Repeat pattern of Gold/Silver/Bronze.
  5. Arrange Monopoly properties by least to most expensive Baltic: Marvin Gardens, Boardwalk
  6. A Racecar is t-boned by another car, which number? 2
  7. Identify the numberr matching images on a 4 by 4 grid.
  8. Image of glass headquarters. Three options, new HQ of which organization? Apple.
  9. Missing image in puzzle of Golden Gate Bridge.
  10. Where is image of soup located? 4
  11. Arrange Actresses from Youngest to Oldest. Mila Kunis, Amy Adams, Halle Berry, Jane Fonda
  12. Spell the nine-letter word for a sea that borders the U.S. Virgin Islands. He says it but doesn’t spell it. Oh man, heartbreaker.

A great run that ran into time trouble. Glenn even knew the right answer but missed that he was supposed to spell it out, not just say it. Of course, given his time constraints that would have been hard. Annoyingly he was on great pace heading into question 11 when the age question sucked up too much time.

Ed Moses

38-year-old former Olympic swimmer. He has a gold and silver medal and broke thirteen world records!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesDouble Crossed03002019917.7
2SequenceAlpha Order91921623010.2
4MemoryEcho Chamber7138125138.2
8SequenceBack Order115745125
9KnowledgeToss Up7383263.5
10SequenceTime Warp92313102.3
11MemoryMind Field11202-3
  1. Solve the crossword to name a famous actor. Harrison Ford!
  2. List four-letter musical items alphabetically – Drum, Harp, Bell.
  3. Identify the body part represented by a picture of ham and string.
  4. Repeat Hickory Dickory Dock pattern.
  5. Downloading from moving fragments. Clue is “Popular Tech Term”
  6. How many fish are in the bowl on the left? 3.
  7. Steve Rogers is the Alter Ego of Captain America.
  8. Place these words in the order in which they appear in the nursery rhyme “Jack be Nimble” Nimble, Quick, Candlestick.
  9. What is a porpose? Fish or Mammal? Mammal.
  10. List first ladies by earliest to most recent: Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama.
  11. Question doesn’t even finish asking.

While not as good as winning $10,000, I can give Ed Moses this. He holds the “record” for being the first televised Mental Samurai contestant to be mathematically eliminated before failing a question. While other candidates have run into time trouble that meant it was unlikely they could have completed their course in time, Ed is the first that ran out of time. I give him full marks for persevering. The pop-culture Puzzle knocking a strong competitor off their game is nothing new. Ed “recovered” and tried his best on an otherwise exemplary run.

Jack Vomacka

19-year-old Computer Science Major. Got a perfect score on the ACT. He’s also been writing a fantasy novel for ten years.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
2SequenceAlpha Order102842671718.5
3MemoryEcho Chamber92582451318.6
6SequenceBack Order101961841221.1
8PuzzlesMatch Box101571451225
9SequenceTime Warp71381162228.5
10MemoryPay Attention9107881930.3
11PuzzlesCompound Fracture97907935.5
  1. What movie is represented by a picture of a Magician and a Microphone.
  2. Arrange 11, 31, Twenty
  3. Repeat King, Knight, Queen, Queen, Rook.
  4. Rearrange letters to spell Drake. Clue is Popular Musical Artist.
  5. What type of pastry was in the image. Croissant out of focus. Nicely done!
  6. Place these words in the order in which the appear in the “Pledge of Allegiance”: Flag, Republic, Indivisible.
  7. What is another name for the human tailbone? Coccyx.
  8. Identify two matching pairs on a four by four grid.
  9. Arrange these animated series in order they appeared:Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy.
  10. What are two for 25 dollars? Jeans.
  11. What four letter words is a prefix for port and a suffix for over?

A very strong run before getting knocked off by a tough question. Essentially, Ed’s run in reverse. I’ve left the answer out, see if you can get it. It was definitely a tough question and was a real shame to see Jack’s amazingly strong run go down.

Nancy Jo Perdue

65-year-old retired journalist. She was the first television journalist. She’s interviewed six presidents.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002851517.7
2KnowledgeReality Check72782661218
3PuzzlesPicture Perfect7259250918.7
5SequenceBack Order92191942520.4
6KnowledgeTrue Lies7187178919.9
  1. List Bagel, Bacon, Donut in order.
  2. Which is the real White House? Fake has a pillar.
  3. What phrase is represented by hand with butter for fingers.
  4. How many black guitars in the image? 2.
  5. Arrange words Sky, Diamond, World in order they appear in “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  6. A female fox is valled a vixen. True?
  7. Rearrange letters to spell Inception. Clue is Twisted 2010 Movie.

Another running theme, strong run with a tough question that knocked her out. She was one of the most fun competitors that had great sass in her answers.

Jackie Boehme

28-year-old Resident Anesthesiologist. Was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the US at age 2.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002851517.7
2MemoryEcho Chamber82772651217.9
3KnowledgeToss Up102552431218.3
4PuzzlesPicture Perfect92342231118.9
6PuzzlesMissing Piece81721581417.7
8SequenceMeasure Up71341211320.4
9MemoryName Dropper81131001322.3
15MemoryHear Say871462531.5
16SequenceMeasure Up838182038
  1. Arrange Medal, Pizza, Shark in order.
  2. Repeat pattern of words “Shake it Off”
  3. Which is the Clown from Stephen King’s “IT” – Pennywise
  4. Identify the four word phrase by an image of a man with a chip on his shoulder.
  5. How many wheels are on the chair. This question is BS. She logics it out though!
  6. Which piece completes an image of a tucan.
  7. How many children does Homer Simpson have? 3.
  8. Put steps to roast turkey in order. Put stuffing in raw turkey, roast turkey, serve turkey.
  9. What is name of blonde haired woman on the right on a Christmas card? Beverley.
  10. What pharoah is not like the others? D, spinning head. Do they teach this stuff in med school?
  11. Which TV show is the show “Sheldon” a prequel to? Big Bang Theory.
  12. Arrange NBA Teams in order of Number of Championships won from least to most: Timberwolves, Bulls, Celtics.
  13. What animal is not native to Africa? I believe tiger.
  14. Combine fragments to spell “Legislation” clue is something produced by politicans.
  15. What sound played 4th? Frog.
  16. Arrange action stars from youngest to oldest: Arnold, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Matt Damon.

Jackie followed Chris’ “fast and fun” strategy. She was very matter of fact in her answers while enjoying herself and relaxing during the gyroscope time. Like other Mental Samurai winner Nathan Gonzales, she’s in the medical profession, which apparently makes the tough “Oddball” question easy. About six questions in, Rob Lowe said she needed to pick up the pace. While he was wrong, she took that to heart and crushed “the back nine.” Another compliment I can give is she “thought her way” through several questions.

Another week in the tank! The good news is we’re hitting enough data that I’ll probably be back with some meta-analysis soon. Seeya next time!