Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three In One!

This could be a while, as I am going to give you three game show-related things this week. First, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue returned on June 21 with the first of six new episodes hosted by Jack Dee. Here is my recap of the June 21 show:

Opening: “We present I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games. At the piano is Colin Sell, and your chairman is Jack Dee.”

Recorded At: The Centaur, Cheltenham

Panelists: On Jack’s left, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden. On Jack’s right, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jeremy Hardy.

Scorer: “And hopeful for a good score this evening, please welcome the delightful Samantha.”

Game One: Movie Prequels That Have Disappeared From Cinema History
“Apocalypse Soon” “Sapling Gump”, “The Land That Time Put In A Safe Place”…you get the idea. Oh, and we get “Bring Me Someone Who Knows Alfredo Garcia”.

Game Two: One Song To The Tune Of Another
Jack: “Listeners will be interested to learn that Colin recently spent the last week producing Eminem…and what a tedious game of Scrabble it was”… “Barry Cryer, listening to you sing reminds me of music hall…and why we don’t have it anymore”…Tim sings the words of Rehab to the tune of When I’m Sixty-Four…Jeremy sings the words of the Scooby-Doo theme (the most famous one, anyway) to the tune of Bridge Over Troubled Water…I really miss the lengthy explanations.

Game Three: Sausages
The panelists can ask Jack any question they’d like, and he must always answer “Sausages.” Jack says the goal is to not laugh for as long as possible, but everyone cracks up pretty quickly. It’s a game I remember playing at summer camp, even if Jack claims it’s a tribute to the TV show That’s Life.

Game Four: One pair of panelists are promoting a movie\book\radio show\TV show that they don’t know the name of, and must figure out what it is via the other pair’s questions about it. Naturally, the titles are shown to the audience via the laser display board.

Game Five: The panelists are continuity announcers introducing shows picked solely on the basis of a catchy title.

Game Six: Tim and Jeremy must alternate words of a letter from Boudica to Julius Caesar; Barry and Graeme must alternate words of the reply.

Game Seven: Hairdressers Songbook

Closing: “Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jeremy Hardy were being given silly things to do by Jack Dee, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. The program consultant was Iain Pattinson, and the producer was Jon Naismith.”

That's episode one...I must say, I wasn't really feeling it this time...moving on...

It's either the next Russian Roulette or the lamest idea for a game show ever: a game show set on top of a skyscraper, with a contestant playing for money that, if not won, is dropped over the edge. That's the premise of Downfall, which premiered June 22 with host Chris Jericho. Let's try to piece this together...

First things first: My initial mental image of a contestant and a host standing on top of a building alone with a suitcase full of money turned out to be about as wrong as you can get. This show actually constructed a full-scale game show set, complete with an audience, on top of some unknown skyscraper in Los Angeles. It's quite a sight, and I'm sure in ten years people will be asking me "What was that game show with the big conveyor belt on top of a building?" The question, of course, is whether the show has a good game to back that striking image up.

It comes close. To win $1,000,000, the contestant must pass seven levels of play, worth increasingly more money (in other words, it's a money ladder show). On each level, the contestant picks one of nine categories on the board for his\her game. Each category contains ten questions, and as you move up the money ladder, the number of questions you can miss goes down. For $5,000, you have to get four questions out of ten right; however for $10,000 it's five questions out of ten, and so on until for $1,000,000, you have to get ten out of ten. Each round contains not only the money, but also an array of fabulous prizes, replicas of which are placed on the conveyor belt in the center of the set. Of course, the set's on top of an LA skyscraper...if you haven't figured it out, the way you pass each level is by answering the required number of questions before everything you're trying to win hits the street. The contestant is also given two panics (not to be confused with lifelines, cheats, backups or helps) which are activated by hitting a button and which essentially allow you to try the round over with a different category.

If that description sounds totally unoriginal and gimmicky...well, yeah, but I thought it was fun. The image of a new car slamming into the Los Angeles sidewalk is not one I will soon forget. Chris Jericho is not the next Bob Barker or anything, but he impressed me with his performance here. I found myself shouting answers at the TV and holding my breath as each prize approached the edge...and really, what more could you ask for from a game show? If it takes a gimmick to get your attention, then so be it.

Finally, I promised you something special...on Saturday, June 19, I went to an open casting call for The Price Is Right. Yes, I can hear you saying "An open casting call for The Price Is Right? I thought they took contestants out of the audience." That's what they did for decades, and for the most part that's what they still do...but they are now also taking a few preselected contestants, a move that has no doubt been called sacrilege by some. Here's how it works: in every city they visit, two people will be selected and flown to Los Angeles. Those two people will get reserved seats at the show, and one of them will be guaranteed to be picked.

So I filled out my application form and went down to the audition, which was being held in..get this...a tent in the parking lot of BJ's Wholesale Club in Revere, Massachusetts. The line was supposed to form at 10AM for an 11AM start. I think I arrived around 10:20. There were a few hundred people there. That may sound like a lot. It isn't. When I went to an open casting call for Deal Or No Deal in June 2009, there were thousands of people in line for blocks.

However the auditions did indeed not start until 11, meaning I must have waited in line forty minutes for the auditions to start, then another half hour after that. While I waited, staff members explained the rules...namely, that you will have thirty seconds to answer the question "Why do you want to be on The Price Is Right?" Seriously. They base it entirely on thirty seconds. They also gave us hot dogs and tried to get us to become BJ's members. Finally I reached the front of the line, stood on a X facing a camera, was handed a microphone, and got my thirty second audition. I think I froze up halfway through, and I won't find out for months either way...well, it was worth a try.

If you're wondering what I think you're wondering...yes, many of the people in line were wearing T-shirts relating to the show or the audition. Myself included - I wore the shirt and show name tag I wore when I went to a taping of The Price Is Right in Los Angeles in 2007.

That's another post, OK?

More ISIHAC next week,


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