Powered by i.TV
October 25, 2014

Can Primetime Game Shows Stop With the 'Millionaire' Look Already?

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 15th 2010 4:23PM
Episode one of 'Minute to Win It'
I've been a game show fan for as long as I can remember. I can recall obscure games from the '70s like 'The Better Sex' and I revel in the classics, from 'Match Game' all the way up to 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.' So I'll watch any new game show at least once.

All of this is how I explain to myself how I blew two hours watching the first two episodes of NBC's 'Minute to Win It' last night. It's a pretty straightforward game: complete ten physical games, win a million bucks. The games themselves use everyday household items, and variations of them could be found at carnivals, state fairs and church festivals around the country. In fact, there was a game show on for years called 'Beat the Clock' that had a very similar premise.

But 'Minute to Win It' was important. Why? Because of the dark, space-station set and swirling lights. Because of the female British voice that felt vaguely futuristic. In fact, the show felt a lot more like 'Millionaire' than a carnival game. And it was so not necessary.

The dark set and swirling lights look for primetime game shows is now a look that's over a decade old. 'Millionaire' pioneered it, and at the time it first aired here in the US in 1999, the look felt modern, and it was unlike the brightly-lit, bell-and-buzzer filled shows that preceded it. But, TV being TV, where any good idea is Xeroxed to death, almost every single game show that has premiered since has used this kind of set.

Did 'Million Dollar Password,' for instance, really need the lights and intimidating music? Absolutely not; the show had been interesting to watch for decades without any music at all. '1 vs. 100' and 'Deal or No Deal' would have been just as popular (at least until they were overplayed into obscurity) if they took place at Universal CityWalk than on a darkened set. What people love about game shows was the game play, the contestants, and the host, not a bunch of swirling lights.

'Minute to Win It' is supposed to be lighthearted and fun. On top of it, the show's use of everyday household items makes it a fairly cheap game to produce. How hard would it have been to take she show on the road, playing to audiences around the country in various outdoor venues? The interstitials NBC showed around the commercial breaks depicted people all over the place having fun with the games that were designed for the show.

How much fun would it have been to have the show roll into a town and play to an audience that rarely gets to see a TV show being shot? Heck, the show's host, Guy Fieri, already has a big roadshow where he greets fans and does cooking demonstrations (I read that it includes a six-foot-tall blender for margarita making), so it's not like he'd be unwilling to do it.

Instead, we get a look that's supposed to be "intimidating" but just looks tired. Maybe one day someone will understand that and create a look that invokes a completely different feeling.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

20 Comments

Filter by:
Preston

Looking at Minute To Win It's recent renewal, I wonder what Howie Mandel is thinking now? His Deal or No Deal would have been on its 5th (!) season in primetime on NBC. (It's in syndication with the $500,000 winning show, but it's still not the same with the million dollar winning version) But NBC ran it to the ground, running it 3 to 4 nights a week in most cases and it just wore out on people. And its ratings fell.They didn't run it AT ALL this season. I'm sure Howie would have had big plans for the 5th season, even a 5th anniversary birthday cake brought onto the stage at the end of this spring if it happened.

April 28 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Preston

It worked for Who Wants to Be A Millionnaire in 1999 when they started, but I think this "game shows with contestants competing for $1 million dollars" concept is getting outdated. And the reason most of the later copycat shows with the exception of Deal of No Deal haven't succeeded is because they haven't produced any million dollar winners. They win maybe $25,000, $100,000 or $200,000 in most cases. Million Dollar Password with Regis Philbin lasted only 15 shows or so. But maybe this is a swipe at the lovely parting gifts consolation prize on older game shows that losers get--that they don't get anything if they don't win on the newer shows. (They think that parting gifts like floor wax and Rice a Roni are cheesy by 2010 standards) And they're still doing it now, pumping out more of these same shows and gargantuan rock concert show- like stage sets with the revolving lights and overwrought and loud theme music between questions and they're seldomly watched. And Minute To Win It's set blatantly copies Millionnaire--I think they stole some of the props from the old ABC show set and put them on Guy Fieri's NBC game show. That's what I thought when they were going to revive Pyramid in 2002--when they were going to clean out all the dust of the old Dick Clark show set of the 70s/80s show and make a new show--they didn't--they updated it. They need to create new kinds of game shows, but stop the big massive sets and just do a normal simple kind of a stage set. This big stage set has been just as Xeroxed to death as every other Lou Pearlman created boy band copying Backstreet Boys or NSYNC with Max Martin, Rami or Kristian Lundin produced songs in 1999 or 2000!

April 28 2010 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brandon

I was thinking the same thing at work today... I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE AUDIENCE, THEIR FAMILIES, THAT MANY COMMERCIALS AND THAT HOST. I WILL NOT WATCH THIS SHOW ANYMORE !!! I'M TIRED OF ALL THESE DARK GAME SHOW SETS..DAMN GOTHIC GAME SHOWS....

March 16 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BIGKARAOKESTEVE

WHY DON'T THEY STOP WITH THE LOUD MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUNG WHEN THE WOMAN IS EXPLAINING THE RULES FOR A PARTICULAR GAME. WE OLDER PEOPLE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE LOUD MUSIC.

March 16 2010 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carlene

Glen, commercials are the reason I NEVER watch live tv anymore. I record it and then with a quick couple of remote button pushes I am back to the show. If folks were not showing the same commercials (or stupid commercials) I would watch them. But, being as it is, I will just scoot through the commercials and relish having saved myself the agony of having to endure yet another rash of commercial rantings.

March 16 2010 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
glenn

Not once was is mentioned in this article that the show was completely ruined with the rediculous amont of commercials. Much more commercial time than programming. It won't be too much longer when everyone is going to just give up on television and watch commercial free movies. You have to be a complete moron to sit there through six minute commercials every four or five minutes!

March 16 2010 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to glenn's comment
Tami

I thought the same thing....way more commercials than show... and too much drama.. just have fun!!

March 16 2010 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
FormerFOPA

I think these TV show sets are actually a sad commentary on the I.Q. of the general viewing public. It takes the flashy lights, spinning colors, and dramatic lightning, (and lets not forget the fact that the images you see are further manipulated by numerous cameramen and someone manipulating it all at a video mixer), just to keep the interests of teenage-
I. Q.ed boob-tube junkies from wandering or getting boooooooring! (sound familiar?)

March 16 2010 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave P

You are the weakest link !!!

March 16 2010 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

None of these game shows come close to how much fun they were in the 60s, 70s & early 80s...the only good game show out there today is Cash Cab. It's the only one worth watching.

March 16 2010 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alk02g

um, "The interstitials NBC showed around the commercial breaks depicted people all over the place" ?? It all looked like locations around Universal in FL to me. Perhaps I missed a commercial or two.

I did enjoy the circular white-turning-red increments as a countdown, but otherwise I agree with the rest of the "looks like Millionaire" comments.

March 16 2010 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners