Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Can't Reveal Too Much Until April 5...

I feel sort of silly typing up the rules of a local high school quiz bowl show, but still, here's how High School Quiz Show plays out: there are two teams of four. Round one is buzz-in questions worth ten points each. In round two, one member of each team comes to the center podium for one minute of buzz-in questions worth five points each. In round three, there are six categories, each containing five questions worth ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, and thirty points. The team that is behind at the beginning of the round picks a category, and the first team to buzz in with the correct answer picks the next category. Finally, round four is one minute of five point buzz-in questions.

There you go. It's...well, it's a pretty straightforward local high school quiz bowl show. I sometimes wonder if we should just have one of these shows for the whole country, but then I'm the one who said on February 11 that the local high school quiz bowl show is "pure Americana."

There's not much else I can say at the moment. I'm sorry. I'll have more about High School Quiz Show on April 8, and hopefully next week there will be some news.

One more note - in case you don't know, next Thursday is April 1. As I really, really, can't stand April Fools Day pranks on websites, I'm going to try as hard as I possibly can not to post any here. That being said, I may well fall for some prank on another site and post it here as news - but I certainly won't post anything I know is a prank.

See you then.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Minute Doesn't Quite Win It

Let me make one thing clear here: I have seen game shows much worse then Minute To Win It. This show isn't great, but it's entirely watchable. What isn't entirely watchable is the hype surrounding it.

How does the show work? It's a money ladder stunt show...and that's pretty much it. The contestant starts out with three lives. If the stunt is successfully completed, we advance on the money ladder towards $1,000,000; if the stunt is lost, the contestant loses a live. Of course you can quit after successfully completing a stunt, but once you say you want to go for it, you are committed to that stunt until you either win or run out of lives. That's it. There aren't even any lifelines\cheats\backups\helps\whatever. Host Guy Fieri does a good enough job, the set is a stereotypical post-Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? game show set, the disembodied voice explaining the stunts got annoying fast, and I'm not even sure there was any music. In short, this perfectly fits the current game show stereotype - so why is it being promoted as a show that will forever change the way America thinks of game shows?

I'm serious. Commercials for Minute To Win It - some even aired during the show itself - showed people practicing the stunts in their homes and in public parks, and dozens of people all shouting together "You've got a Minute To Win It!" I suppose to some extent this is expected of any new primetime game show, but most of those are quiz shows, and it's not too hard to practice quiz questions. Nobody's going to set up these stunts in a public park, certainly not when it's likely most of them have been done countless times on shows such as Beat The Clock and Double Dare. Even if we accept the ad campaign as plain old promotion, why air the ads in the show itself? Does NBC really believe this show is going to change anything? It looks to me like they might.

It gets worse, however, when we move from the network to game show fans, who immediately dismissed this show (an American format) as a ripoff of the British series The Cube. Every now and then, a show premieres in some other country that game show fans immediately latch onto, saying that when this show comes to America, it will forever change things. I remember when it was Millionaire (which lived up to the hype)...then The Weakest Link (which burned itself out pretty fast)...then Deal Or No Deal (ditto). I've heard a lot of game show fans say, essentially "What is this Minute To Win It nonsense? We want the real The Cube!" What difference will it make? From what I've heard, the major difference between Minute To Win It and The Cube is that on The Cube, contestants do the stunts inside the eponymous Plexiglas structure. Is that seriously going to make a difference?

So there we go. Minute To Win It...perfectly enjoyable, but it's not going to lead to anyone setting up Beat The Clock-type stunts in public parks, and I seriously doubt The Cube would either. Is it genuinely time to move on from the Millionaire model of game shows? Maybe...but how can you do that when you still have a $1,000,000 money ladder?

I'll have my first impressions of High School Quiz Show next week.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Real News This Week...

Here's a few bits and pieces:
  • Jack Dee will again be the host of the upcoming Series 53 of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. That's no surprise, but the BBC still hasn't outright said that he's the new permanent host, and until they do, I have to keep recapping the show. Just A Minute is currently filling this time slot; The Unbelievable Truth starts its season on March 29 and The Museum Of Curiosity on May 10. By my estimate, ISIHAC will return on June 21.
  • The episode of High School Quiz Show I saw will air on April 5. The show premieres March 22.
  • Also on March 22, and continuing for a whole week, Monty Hall will be co-hosting Let's Make A Deal with Wayne Brady.

That's about it. I guess March 22 is going to be a big day. I'll be back next week with a review of the new show Minute To Win It, which premieres March 14.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Instantly Beat My Expectations...

Let me make one thing clear here: there was exactly one reason that I watched the premiere of Instant Recall, and that was the host. In early 2010, it was announced that Wink Martindale would be hosting a new show...and that was it. We didn't know what show, what channel, or anything else...and I got excited anyway. I jumped to conclusions so much that I figured this was going to be - and I quote my February 4 post here - "some wonderful new revival that would replace As The World Turns and put Wink on CBS five days a week."

It wasn't until weeks later that we found out that the show was called Instant Recall, was on Game Show Network, and was built around one of the dumbest concepts for a game show I've ever heard. To quote my February 4 post again "a contestant is put into a Candid Camera-type practical joke situation. As with all shows of this sort, hidden cameras film his\her reaction. After being told that it's a joke, the contestant is asked a set of questions about what just happened and can win cash and prizes by answering correctly."

So I wasn't expecting much; in fact, I said on February 4 that "that's one of the few game show ideas that should have a washed-up comedian as the host." What I wasn't expecting was that Game Show Network was aware that Wink was a lot better than this concept, and decided to really play up his presence. When Wink makes his entrance after the contestants are told they're on TV, it's accompanied by an entourage of models, studio audience members, etc. after which a set is set up that looks like...well, like a stereotypical 1970s game show set. In short, what they're trying to do here is play up the contrast between the "modern" hidden camera stuff and the "old-style" game shows represented by Wink, and admittedly, you can't do that with a washed-up comedian.

That's not to say this is a great show...far from it. The prize budget is low even by Game Show Network standards (with two games in a half hour episode, the biggest winner in the premiere won $2,000 and an iPod) and let's face it, we didn't need the superimposed comments, supposedly by Wink, that showed up even during the game show segment. Still, I eventually realized that my expectations were so low anything could have beaten them, and sure enough, this did. It was fun. It's far from an advancement of the genre, but that's not the point.