Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Guess I Changed My Mind

Well, given that Baggage, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy have given me absolutely nothing new to write about, it's time to break down Let's Ask America...

If there's one thing I don't get, it's that every few years, some producer says "I know! We'll have a televised game show where contestants play from home via their phone or the Internet! It's the wave of the future!" It never is - these shows always flop. Trivial Pursuit: America Plays is the most recent example, and I actually thought it was a decent show, but remember WEBRIOT, hosted by Ahmet Zappa on a giant video screen? How about Inquizition? Anybody know who the Inquizitor was? Everyone from Bob Stewart to Jerry Springer has been suggested.

So here's the latest example, Let's Ask America, which began a syndication test run on Monday with host Kevin Pereira. He's in a studio, staring at a video screen on which four contestants are playing via Skype. It's a survey game, as the title should make clear. In the first round, there are three questions - think something like "Which of these do grandmothers think their granddaughters have the worst taste in - Clothes, Music, or Men?" The contestants write their answers on cards, and picking the most popular answer wins $100 for question one, $200 for question two, and $300 for question three. At the end of the round, the contestant with the least money is eliminated.

If there is a tie, it is broken via one of the dumbest things I have ever seen on television - the Dash For Cash, which basically consists of Kevin shouting something like "The first player to find a spatula in their house and hold it up to their webcam moves on to the next round! Ready, go!" Well for starters, that has nothing to do with the rest of the game, and even worse, since the contestants are playing via Skype, you don't see them running through their house trying to find whatever it is they're looking for, you just see them leave their computers and a minute or two later one of them comes back and is told he\she is moving on. What's supposed to be fun to watch about that?

Round two has three questions worth $400, $500, and $1,500 (lopsided scoring, no?), after which the contestant with the least money is eliminated; round three has two questions worth $2,000 and $5,000, after which the contestant with the most money wins the game and goes to the bonus round, in which he\she can risk any or all of his\her money on one final question. If you get it right, you get however much money you wagered; however, if you choose to risk it all, a correct answer multiplies your bank by five (while an incorrect answer, of course, sends you home with nothing). In the highly unlikely event that you play a perfect game, risk your $10,000 in main game winnings, and get the bonus round question, you win the maximum possible prize of $50,000.

Let's start with the good: take out the idiotic Dash For Cash, and you're actually left with a decent game. Kevin Pereira is not the greatest host ever, but I like him well enough. So what's wrong with Let's Ask America? You mean besides the Skype element, the Dash For Cash, the lopsided scoring system, and the generic "light game show" music?

Of course I'm nitpicking - this is far from a bad show and will hopefully do well enough in its test run to be rolled out nationally in Fall 2013. It's really no better or worse then...well, the aforementioned Trivial Pursuit: America Plays, and that show flopped. I somehow get that upon its national rollout, Let's Ask America won't do a whole lot better.

Next week - the season premieres of The Price Is Right and Let's Make A Deal, and The Price Is Right's male model search!

Seriously, anybody know who the Inquizitor was? How about VAL on Solitary?


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