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.
Jeopardy!, which premiered in 1964, is one of the most successful and popular game show in U.S. TV history. Its challenging questions and format helped make it a household name. This is why we named our "Primetime game show requiring the most skill" category after it.
In this category, we include 2007-2008 season game shows that air/aired in primetime (Jeopardy! is out of the running since it doesn't air in that block) and that are not reality-type game shows such as Survivor and Big Brother. Shows that come to mind are Duel, 1 vs 100, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, and the primetime edition of The Price Is Right. Personally, I don't think Deal or No Deal or The Moment of Truth qualify since they don't require much skill.
Which shows do you think should be nominated for The Jeopardy Award? List your suggestions below!
Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier (Mon., 9PM ET, History)
Space ... it's still the final frontier. Watching this special celebrating 40 years of Star Trek, I'm struck by how forward-looking the show was. Sure, the uniforms were totally '60s and the plots were super cheesy, but the concepts were light years ahead of their time. Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, narrates, with stars William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew sharing insights into their various incarnations of Trek. Plus, see footage from last October's auction of Trek memorabilia.
American Idol (Tue., 8PM ET, Fox)
Is it just me or are this year's top 24 contestants almost completely unmemorable? Looking over their photos, I strained to recall each one. Actually, one did stand out -- the beatboxing guy, Blake. But can he sing? I think the judges were right in saying this season is more up for grabs than any since season one. This week, experience six hours of Idol overload, with the top 12 boys performing tonight, the girls taking their turn tomorrow and a two-hour results show Thursday. Phew!
The game itself is rather simple. The contestant is presented with 12 strangers and a list of twelve identities. For each correct guess they move up the money ladder. Correctly identifying all twelve strangers is a $500,000 payoff. They have one mistaken identity in their pocket, so the first miss is a freebie. But a second miss sends them home with no cash.
To aid them in their quest there are two helper options. With "tridentity" they can pick one of the identities and the field will be narrowed down to three potential correct answers. There is also a panel of experts that includes a body language expert, a psychologist, and an fbi agent.
The quick cancellation, if that's what it turns out to be, surprises me. Did anyone think the numbers were going to be huge when stepping into the middle of the Criminal Minds vs. Lost battle? I did see the show, and while it wasn't anything great, it was in the same ballpark as Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs. 100. I actually preferred the listing aspect to the random guessing of Deal, or the multiple choice questions of 1 vs. 100.
Ken Jennings recently conducted an interview with himself on his blog about his appearances on the first episodes of NBC's new game show, 1 Vs. 100, and offered a gentle critique of the show and how it could be made better. Apparently, being a member of the studio "Mob" isn't the most pleasant experience in the world. Folks aren't even allowed to sit down, though they do have a nice piece of plywood they can sorta lean against. By the end of a long day of shooting, many people actually got up and left. Jennings also said it's too easy for a contestant to build up a lot of money with the early, easy questions and just take off, which doesn't exactly make for compelling television. Jennings doesn't completely write the show off, but he does see a lot of room for improvement.
Given his penchant for trivia and his personable style, I wonder if we'll ever see a game show in the future hosted by Ken Jennings. I don't know what it would consist of, but I do know it should end with a boxing match against a kangaroo. That's the essential element missing from game shows these days.
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