Thursday, September 16, 2010

At Last!

The new season is here! Monday brought the season premieres of Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and Family Feud. Let's take a look at this show by show:

Wheel Of Fortune: The season premiere was taped in Las Vegas...the smallest prize on the bonus round wheel is now $30,000...yeah, I don't really care. This show isn't changing much any time soon.

Jeopardy: Apparently on Tuesday, contestant Roger Craig won $77,000 on his second day, topping the one-day record of $75,000 set by - of course - Ken Jennings. Also, at some point this season there will be a special pitting an IBM Jeopardy playing computer called Watson against some former contestants (please, please, don't be Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter). That's about it. Come on, were you honestly expecting some major changes to Jeopardy?

Family Feud: The show is now taped at Universal Studios in Orlando, complete with shots of roller coasters during the opening. Last season's Bullseye round has been taken out; the round sequence is now Single, Single, Double, Triple, Sudden Death, and the first family to reach 300 points plays Fast Money for $20,000. The horrific family introduction videos have also thankfully been taken out; however before Fast Money, the winning family is wished good luck by some random person staying at a Comfort Inn somewhere in the country. Steve Harvey is better here than he was guest hosting Millionaire, but does seem to be trying to make this show into a comedy club; still, this is a hard game to ruin completely. Oh, and the new announcer, who even gets to name check himself in the opening: Joey Fatone!

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Take a deep breath; the new rules of Millionaire make little sense written down. The game is now played in two rounds. Round one has ten questions and ten money amounts ranging from $100 to $25,000. Both the questions and money amounts are shuffled randomly, meaning the first question could be the hardest on the board and still be worth $100. The money amount attached to each question is not revealed until after the question is answered; if the contestant gets it right, that amount is added to their bank. The lifelines have been redone almost completely; we still have Ask The Audience, but the other two lifelines are both Jump The Question, which allows you to move on to the next question - but you don't get the money amount attached to the question you jumped. You can walk away on any question in round one, but if you do so, you only get half of what's in your bank. If, by some miracle, you get through ten questions of this, round two contains four questions in classic Millionaire style: $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, $1,000,000. If you miss a question in round two, you go home with your bank from round one. The clock has been dropped completely; however so has the iconic hot seat, replaced by a podium.

This is by no stretch of the imagination bad. It's actually an improvement over what we had last year, with the clock and the worthless Ask The Expert lifeline...yet how much can you change Millionaire before it just isn't Millionaire anymore? This has little in common with the show as originally played; however, if it were launched under a different title, I probably wouldn't even be watching, so I suppose I should be happy. Look at it this way: it beats the awful multiplayer "Millionaire Hot Seat" format currently used in Australia.

Next week: The Price Is Right, Let's Make A Deal, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?, and Don't Forget The Lyrics!

As for Cash Cab...frankly, I'm starting to think the deal didn't go through.


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