Thursday, December 22, 2011

Drop! Drop! Drop!...From NBC's Schedule

Before I get to that, however, Larry Emdur's appearance on The Price Is Right was preempted in my area for live coverage of the funeral of a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. I eventually watched online, and while it was great to see Larry, the fact is that he appeared for about as long as I expected him to (which is to say, not very long). The Double Showcase Win was great to watch, though.

Moving to Who's Still Standing, I will say this: Ben Bailey is excellent. He is also, to put it lightly, the only good thing about the show.

A single contestant (the "hero") is standing on a trap door in the center of the set, surrounded by ten other contestants on their own trap doors (the "strangers".) The hero is playing for $1,000,000; the strangers can win $10,000 by defeating the hero. The hero picks a stranger, and Ben asks questions at each of them in turn until one of them gets an answer wrong. The questions are pretty insultingly easy, and to make matters worse, a few letters of the correct answer are flashed on the screen along with the question.

When one of the contestants (the hero or the chosen stranger) misses a question, he\she leaves with nothing  and is eliminated by falling through that trap door with the audience shouting "Drop! Drop! Drop!". Every time a stranger drops, the hero banks the amount of money that stranger is worth (a few thousand dollars) and is given the option of quitting. If the hero survives the game (either by quitting or defeating all ten strangers and winning $1,000,000), he\she is given the option of dropping anyway because, you know, they darn well can. At the end of the show, any strangers still on their trap doors play a speed round in which Ben goes around the circle asking each stranger a question in turn. A correct answer adds $1,000 to the pot; an incorrect answer opens your trap door. When only one stranger is left, he\she wins the pot and is given the same option of leaving "through the door...OR THROUGH THE FLOOR?" At the end of the show, they drop Ben too because again, they darn well can.

That may sound fun on paper, but it really embodies everything wrong with game shows right now. The show is obviously choreographed and edited heavily, all the way down to holiday bumpers being added in post to match up with the airdate NBC decided on months after the show was taped. Commercial breaks come not only in the middle of rounds, but in the middle of a question being asked. The incredibly annoying theme music plays loudly and consistently throughout the show. I could go on. Even the trap door gimmick has been done plenty of times before - Game Show Network's Russian Roulette would likely be a certified modern classic had it aired on any other channel. This format originated in Israel. Perhaps they did it right. Perhaps if it were exported to some other country, they'd do it right - but couldn't we just revive Russian Roulette instead?

Am I being too harsh? Probably - but it doesn't really matter, as this show can't possibly last beyond the six or seven episodes all primetime game shows get right now. At least Ben has Cash Cab to fall back on.

Next week - Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! If they have to add a $1,000,000 jackpot to it I will throw something.

Happy holidays,


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