Thursday, June 23, 2011

Turns Out It's Not For The Faint Of Heart

I'm going to go right ahead and say this: I had the wrong mental image.

When I heard the premise of 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show, I thought they would be in a studio with an audience, and that the eponymous "ways to leave a game show" would be getting shot out of a cannon at the most.

I was very, very wrong.

Here's how the show plays out: Jeff Sutphen, just barely recognizable as the host of Brain Surge, welcomes eight contestants in some remote outdoor area, split into two groups of four. At the end of the show, one of these contestants will be the day's winner and be awarded $50,000 and - just as importantly - the right to simply walk off screen. The other seven will be...what's the word...SPECTACULARLY ELIMINATED, and not just by getting shot out of a cannon like I was expecting. They're going to get strapped to the wing of a moving biplane ("A Wing And A Prayer") or shot into the air by what appears to be an exploding chair ("You Fuse, You Lose") or shoved off the edge of a speeding truck. I can't remember the name of that last one, but man, this show must have an interesting production process.

In the first round, the first group of four contestants are asked a question with a numerical answer and write down their answers to determine the order in which they will answer the round's question, which has three correct answers and one incorrect answer. After each contestant has answered, Jeff "dramatically" reveals which answers are correct, and the contestant who got it wrong is SPECTACULARLY ELIMINATED via whatever method they're using this round. Inevitably, the other group is standing a few feet away from the "action" laughing hysterically - but not for long, as the process then repeats with that group and a different method of elimination. After two contestants have been eliminated from each group (via four different "ways to leave a game show"), the final four contestants are placed at the top of a ten-story tower for one final round, in which the question has three incorrect answers and one correct answer. The three incorrect contestants fall, and the winner gets the $50,000.

Let's make this clear: this is a quiz show with almost no quiz - but why argue now? Frankly, the amount of gameplay here is on par with the amount of gameplay in most primetime game shows right now, all the way down to the dramatic pauses and commercial breaks exactly where you'd expect them to be. The difference is that a show like Million Dollar Money Drop or whatever expects you to watch for the questions, and when each question takes ten minutes, you feel let down. Nobody's going to watch 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show for the gameplay - even I, who grossly underestimated the methods of elimination, wasn't expecting a lot of questions. As for Jeff, he is thankfully able to inject enough humor and personality that he comes across as more than a standard-issue primetime game show host. 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show may be a one-gimmick show with pacing on par with every other primetime game show we've seen recently, but unlike its losing contestants, the show itself gets safe passage.


No comments:

Post a Comment