All right, question time. In terms of game shows, what is pure Americana? The obvious answers would be "AMERICA'S GAME!" (Wheel Of Fortune), "AMERICA'S FAVORITE QUIZ SHOW!" (Jeopardy), and "AMERICA'S FAVORITE GAME SHOW!" (The Price Is Right), and while these are certainly good guesses - they have those names trademarked, after all - I have an even better answer: pure Americana is the local high school quiz bowl show.
You know the kind of show I'm talking about, right? Local high schools send teams of students to compete in what is essentially a redo of the old College Bowl format (which hasn't been on television in years, but was hosted by Allen Ludden, Art Fleming, and Pat Sajak at different points in its history). I'm sure wherever you are in America (and probably even out of it), you can find at least one of these shows in your area. I myself am in the Boston area, and while many of these shows have been on for decades, Boston's WGBH is actually premiering a show called High School Quiz Show on March 22 with host Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. I even applied to intern on it - and after that, how could I not go to the taping?
Everyone who goes to a taping of High School Quiz Show has to agree not to reveal too much, so I won't, but I will say this: once they got started, they were done with the half hour show within an hour, and that's a good thing. I've heard many horror stories about half hour shows taking five hours to tape, and indeed the few shows I've seen taped in Los Angeles took a while. A local high school quiz bowl show is running a smoother taping than national shows. Go figure.
I'll have more about High School Quiz Show on March 25, and even more after the episode I saw airs.