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.


No comments:

Post a Comment