Thursday, December 29, 2011

Radio With Pictures

I will make this clear: I adore Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Well, I adore it on the radio, anyway.

Going into the BBC America broadcast of the first Wait Wait Don't Tell Me TV special, I knew there was absolutely no chance that the TV producers would do this right and produce a TV version of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me that combines the comedy of the radio show with visual elements and games. That would have been amazing, but it was never going to happen. There were really only two things the TV producers could possibly do:
  1. They could simply point a camera at a taping of the radio show.
  2. They could make a disastrous attempt to make Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, which is really only a game show in the loosest sense of the word, into a generic "modern" game show with a $1,000,000 jackpot.
They went with the first option, and the resulting one-hour special was very funny, but there was nothing in it to necessitate showing it on television. It was more of a concert film then a TV special, all the way down to being taped in the show's usual home base (the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago), everyone wearing radio headsets, and the return of the famous "announcer Carl Kasell's voice on your answering machine" prize. Peter Sagal and the panelists were in their usual fine form, but as if to rub in the point that there's nothing new here, a slightly different cut of the same episode was broadcast on public radio stations the next day in Wait Wait Don't Tell Me's usual slot.

There isn't much more to say. Truth be told, I was actually hoping the producers would take the second option, not because "Million Dollar Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" would have been a better show, but because it would have been so much more fun to review!

I suppose I should use this as proof that what makes a good radio show doesn't always make an even better TV show, but I'm still heavily looking forward to the upcoming British TV version of Just A Minute. Go figure.

See you in 2012,


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