'Instant Recall' Won't Go Down In History As One of the Great Game Shows
by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 5th 2010 11:30AM
I'm a traditionalist when it comes to game shows. I don't really like anything that's too bizarre or wanders too far from the studio audience/stage/host with a mic/play a game format. So I didn't really like the new GSN show 'Instant Recall,' even if there were a few things that I found amusing.
The concept: host Wink Martindale and his crew stage a phony set-up to con someone into playing a game. This first episode featured two people who thought they were at a "love seminar" and a guy who found himself at a party that turned into an intervention for a woman he'd never met before (Wink and the sexy model are in another room as the con unfolds). So yeah, this is 'Candid Camera' with a twist. When it's time to let the victims off the hook, Wink comes in, introduces himself, and they play the game, which is to see if the contestants can remember what just happened to them.
This show has a really weird vibe. It's like a game show and a parody of a game show all at once. Someone channel surfing who comes across it might not know what to make of it. There's way too much goofy humor that subtracts from the game-playing element (Wink "tweeting," a little bobblehead Wink popping up to make on-screen commentary, Wink calling himself "The Winkster" and using the word "bro," etc), and the games seem to be over before you know it.
This is 80% hidden camera hijinks and 20% actual game playing, and it should be the other way around. Maybe if they had just one contestant per show instead of two (it's only a 30-minute show) and actually had the game show part of it like a real game show, maybe it could work. Or maybe not. This is pretty lame stuff (and it doesn't help that GSN already has another game show with a similar premise, 'Hidden Agenda,' and it's on right after 'Instant Recall'). We don't need another hidden camera show on TV. And it's too heavily edited, and it's not funny.
Are there things to like about it? Sure. The fact that they bring the game show set on location and have to construct it then and there is funny, and the fakesters seem really into what they're doing. And I like the retro set and Wink's colorful, retro clothes. But those aren't things that are going to get me tuning in each week. I'd rather see Wink host a traditional game show again (he has hosted around 20 since 1964).
I think the best thing that can be said about this show is that Wink somehow looks the same as he did in 1986, so kudos to him.