Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The State Of Today's Game Shows

I watched the premiere of the new game show "It's Worth What?" hosted by Cedric The Entertainer and featuring a team of two contestants banking money and given the opportunity to win as much as $1,000,000. The object of the game is to bank money by winning as many pricing games as possible. Whether or not the games are going to change episode by episode, I do not know. However, the games that they did have ranged from simply guessing which was worth more to guessing the outfit that was worth more to guessing which possession belonged to which celebrity (in this instance, it was JFK, Jackie O, and Marilyn Monroe). This is basically a version of "The Price Is Right," only tweaked up a little bit more to make it different. "The Price Is Right" has its excited and energetic audience members who compete for prizes. This game has a money ladder format and just money as a prize. The structure is a lot like the syndicated "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader," in which you bank money and have a final chance to multiply your winnings by ten. With this game, you first earn your money, then double, then multiply it by four, and then by ten. You lost most of your money if you miss and can walk away at any time in the final round.

Like many of the game shows of today, I feel that "It's Worth What?" is pretty much the same as any money ladder game show with a different concept. Another term that could be used is "The Price Is Right" with a money ladder. Another concept I'm not into is hearing about the lost opportunities. It's not like "Million Dollar Money Drop," in which the contestants start with $1,000,000 and then have to hold on to as much as possible for seven questions, but once they get one wrong on this game show, you know that the contestants can't win the million. Then again, "Deal Or No Deal" saw missed million-dollar opportunities on many of occasions, but that show did a good enough job concentrating on the contestants and who they were and what they hoped to do if they won big.

Another game show I recently saw was "101 Ways To Leave A Game Show," hosted by Jeff Sutphen. The object is to pick the correct answer to each question (usually from research studies) in order to remain. It starts off with three right answers, then two, and then ultimately one. If you happen to have the wrong answer, you leave the game in an interesting way, such as off a plane, on a moving semi-truck, or down a runway in a car. The final round is always on a drop of terror, where the losers are tied to a chord and dropped into water. The last person standing walks about with $50,000, which according to Sutphen, is "the way to leave a game show!" I felt this was one of those comedy game shows. It's an interesting concept and those interested in the concept will have a ball with it. It just isn't something that's on my schedule to shows I must watch.

Simply put, I'm looking for a game show that's worth looking forward to each and every night. At the moment, the only game show I look forward to each and every evening is "Jeopardy!" at 7 PM (eastern time). It has an excellent concept, an excellent and professional host in Alex Trebek, and game play that keeps your concentration to the game. I almost always play along and phrase my own answers in the form of a question. What excites me even more is when a great contestant comes along and starts winning consecutively and shutting down his competitors. When you get someone who wins multiple games, then the excitement starts driving in. Ken Jennings is the biggest winner, followed by Dave Madden when it comes to days (Brad Rutter is up along with Ken Jennings when it comes to money, due to his tournament wins), but this season has produced several many-day champions. Jeopardy! is the intellectuals game show of this time, and it's great to see that kind of classic format doing well.

It would be great to see a game show wave like that from 1999 to 2001. During that time, you had "21," "Greed," and "The Weakest Link," which were shows that had excellent concepts, but unfortunately didn't last too long. Then, you had what I felt was the great game show of the decade (with the original format of course), "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" with Regis Philbin. This was the game show that ultimately brought the quiz show concept back on track. It was just so exciting to see millionaires be made and the ladder was so intense and kept you on your toes. Unlike many current game shows, where they made making the million far more complicated than it needed to be, all questions simply got harder, but you got to keep your lifelines no matter what. The show started airing more and more, and quickly began an unfortunate slide in the ratings. The syndicated version started like the original, but then began to change its format time and time again. At the moment, the game is extremely different from the original.

Simply put, I'm looking for another rebound of intellectual, big money, big opportunity game shows that give people the opportunity to win big amounts and contend for records of being the highest game show winners. It's great to see big names like Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, John Carpenter, Dr. Kevin Olmstead, Ed Toutant, Dave Leglar, Curtis Warren, and many others rise to the ranks and win big. Some of the biggest names competed in a sixteen-player elimination tournament on GSN called "Grand Slam," which was exciting in itself, something that would have made it even bigger on a heavy network. I highly believe that a few more names in the exclusive club of game show heavyweights won't hurt at all and I highly believe that game shows with big money opportunities wouldn't hurt either.

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