Saturday, December 23, 2006

1 vs. 100 - Building a Better Game Show

Since I brought it up, and managed to put down three current game shows in my last post, I want to write something good about one of the current prime-time, network programming down-time game show.

In the landscape of prime-time game shows, 1 vs. 100 is a step or two ahead of the rest of them. First of all, the premise unbelievably has a little more meat to it than the rest. Down to it's bare bones, it is still a quiz show, with it's special quirk being a panel of 100 people from varying walks of life and intellects competing against the contestant. The questions are across the board, from pop culture to science and math, somewhere along the lines of Do You Want to be a Millionaire?, maybe slightly easier.

The pace, while employing many drama heightening and time stretching elements, is not maddeningly slow, they can manage to answer more than one question between commercial breaks. The host, Bob Saget, has the smarm knob turned down and moves things along fairly well.

Maybe the best part of it is the musical chair style of guests,called the "the Mob", that are brought in to fill the 100 seats, replacing each "Mob" member that answered wrong. Notable members of the "Mob" are Jeopardy King Ken Jennings, the man who beat him and the man who bested him in the Jeopardy tournament, Poker queen Annie Duke, Hooter's waitresses (for about three questions), valedictorians, janitors, Mensa members, and a nun. The mob has more than their reputation at interest too, as they get to split the pot if a contestant is wrong and they are right.

They are set up on a tall stand, and their booth goes dark when they answer wrong, forgotten until they are replaced at the end of the wrong, unless Saget singles them out for chiding after a particularly simple miss or parting shot.

The help options are slightly clunky, but at least workable, one is to show what the Mob voted, another to pick out two members of the Mob at random with two different answers and ask them why they voted the way they did, and the other a very similar variant of that same option. The Mob members can't lie about their choice and veer the contestant to the other answer, but they are uniformly vague in their answers.

Another good thing about the show is that it stays at pretty much the same time, once a week, though as I write I see a promo for a special Christmas episode. Hopefully they will not start using it to blitz nightly programming like they do everything else that works just a little bit. This show too would get tiresome if ran more than a couple times a week.

Altogether, it makes for bearable programming to watch while the networks gear up for January and bring us new seasons and episodes of Monk, 24, Sunset Strip, Heroes, the Closer, Rescue Me,American Idol, and etc. etc. etcetera.

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