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.


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