Friday, October 13, 2006

Game Show Schadenfreude

I was always the guy who rooted against people on game shows who didn't quit and take the money.

Take "Wheel of Fortune," for example. You'd get a puzzle that read "W_at time is it?" and some greedy twerp contestant would spin the wheel one more time so he or she could get the extra money for guessing "H" even though they knew the answer already. Inevitably, that person always landed on "Bankrupt" and I'd cheer because greed got the better of them.

I'm not a fan of "Deal or No Deal" (NBC, various times of the week), but the principal is the same. Some dufus has something like six suitcases left to guess with, gets an offer of $140,000 or something that represents three years salary for that person, and inevitably, the person doesn't take the money and instead picks the one wrong briefcase that knocks the next offer down to $21,000. I usually cheer at that as well.

I should give my own game show history at this point, brief though it is. I've taken the "Jeopardy!" test twice - once in Atlanta, once in L.A. - and passed it twice, and neither year did I get the call. Inevitably, they choose a woman who collects ornate cat collars or some such. (You're dead to me, Trebek!) So, maybe it's a bitter pill for me and game shows, since I'm now past my prime.

I got a DVD of the pilot for "1 vs. 100," (NBC, 9 p.m.) and it has all the elements of game shows I both love and hate. Like pretty much every other game show on TV these days, it's ripped off from a European game show idea and Americanized. Hopefully, it won't be overplayed on the air like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or "The Weakest Link" were.

Bob Saget serves as host. The contestant faces off against the "Mob," a group of 100 players that includes MENSA members, teachers and "Jeopardy!" all-time champ Ken Jennings. The point values of each clue raises with each question the contestant gets right. He or she gets money every time members of the Mob miss it. Once the rest of the Mob is eliminated, the contestant gets $1 million. On the other hand, if the contestant misses a question, the surviving members of the Mob split whatever the contestant has won to that point.

Contestants can walk away at any time, hence the greed factor, although I can say that neither of the first two contestants are guilty of this.

It's actually not a bad game show, except that the questions were ridiculously easy, and the contestant has three choices and two lifelines in which he or she can ask the Mob for help.

FRIDAY'S BEST BET: Tonight's episode of "Doctor Who" (Sci Fi, 8 p.m.) was one of the most anticipated episodes of Season 2 when it aired in England earlier this year. Anthony Stewart Head ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") appears as the headmaster of a boarding school where strange things are afoot, while two of the Doctor's companions from earlier versions of the series that ran in the '70s, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and the robotic dog K-9 (voiced by John Leeson) also appear. This episode proved so popular that the BBC and "Doctor Who" producer Russell T. Davies are in the early planning stages of a Sarah Jane spinoff.

Also, because of Wednesday's NLCS rainout, the baseball playoffs are amended slightly. Game 3 of the ALCS is supposed to air at 4:30 p.m. on Fox, while Game 2 of the NLCS begins tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox.

By the time you are reading this, it's probably already too late, but Bravo is re-airing all of Season 3 of "Project Greenlight" in the morning and afternoon. The series has always made for better television than the movies that have come out of the contest, but if you want some real insight on the filmmaking process, it's a fascinating show.


Anonymous said...

I love quiz shows. Looking forward to 1 versus 100. Try Trebeck again 3rd tine lucky

Zodin2008 said...

I am tired of seeing game shows cheaply take over time slots when networks don't have patience for better series.

NBC seems most guilty of this crime as their schedule is incredibly barren; they have football on Sunday and game shows and "Dateline" Fridays so that leaves 4 nights of programming they do, and 2 of those nights include "Deal or No Deal".

That basically means that NBC is basically putting on a grand total of nine hours of original and scripted program!!! And this was once the #1 network--pathetic.

Thank God it's "Friday" which means time for "Battlestar"--which NBC, by the way, is threatening to poach away from Sci Fi which almost certainly would be a disaster.

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