[The premise, for those of you who haven’t seen this show lately or have received conflicting details: Prospective contestants must write down a long series of yes/no questions, of which at least a significant amount must have…potential entertainment value. :rolleyes: Those making it past this step must then go to a private room, hook up to a polygraph, and answer the questions. The polygraph results (which are official and final) are kept hidden from the prospect. Once the contestant has been selected, a certain number of “yes” and “no” questions are placed in a predetermined order, which the contestant must then answer correctly to win cash (five correct answers to reach the next level, IIRC); the maximum possible is $500,000. Several family members, acquaintences, etc. are on hand; a very limited number of times, one may press a button to skip a question. The contestant may end the game at any point after completing the first level. If he or she gives an incorrect answer at any point, all money is lost (not even a consolation prize).]
I’ve watched this on and off a few times, but I never could get into it. I’m just not the kind of guy who’s riveted by the sight of pathetic chumps trashing their relationships. (I’m also just a wee bit disturbed that the promos seem to gloat over how badly these people are getting screwed.)
Now, I’m not interested in a debate over the morality of airing one’s dirty laundry for money (I’m sure most of us will agree that it’s pretty disgusting, but I can’t muster any RO over a bunch of random losers’ personal issues). What I’d like to know is if anyone here thinks this show can survive, and of not, what you think could save it.
As I see it, the three huge problems, in order:
- Nobody ever flippin’ wins anything!
The 800-pound gorilla. The great appeal of game shows…scratch that, the only reason anyone gives a damn about them at all…is the thrill of the big payout. The very possibility of it, the chase for it, and, just every once so often, the glorious moment when someone bests all challenges and takes it. In fact, even if no one ever wins it, just the fact that it’s there can keep viewers riveted. Look at Deal or No Deal. For all the trumpeting and harrumphing about The Million, despite all the contestants who Had The Million In THEEIRRRRR CAAAAASE, not only has no one ever won it, the way it’s set up, almost nobody has any incentive to even go for it. And yet DonD (despite the way it makes contestants feel like utter crap for making perfectly sound decisions getting downright offensive lately, but that’s another thread) is more popular than ever. And in fairness, there have been big winners; maybe not seven figures, but $450,000, $316,000, or even $101,000 is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Or how about the original Who Wants To Be a Millionare? (I haven’t seen the new one yet, so I can’t comment on it.) Notoriously creampuff starter questions, corny lifelines, and an eternally rage-inducing catchphrase. But the money, oh, the money. And the tension building by degrees as the contestant inched ever so closer to the ultimate prize. It was amazing.
Has anyone ever won anything on MoT other than multiple levels of regret? Worse than selling your principles for cash, selling your principles for NOTHING is going to lose its appeal real fast. Viewers will get tired of having nothing to root for, even the dimmest potential recruits will wise up and look elsewhere, and the whole enterprise will look like a thinly-veiled Nigerian scam.
MY SOLUTION: Why does this have to be like WWTBAM, and a poor man’s WWTBAM, at that? Have a small award for each correct answer, have big bonuses for completing levels, and have a grand prize worthy of the name (at least $1.5 million, and $2.5 million wouldn’t be unreasonable)
- It’s the same things over and over.
Infidelity. Second thoughts about marriage. Sex. Nudity. Unreported crimes. Lying. Cheating. The only thing worse than schlock is boring schlock. Furthermore, the only thing “shocking” about these facts is that they’re being revealed on national television (and even that shouldn’t be so shocking, especially in this Internet age). Yes, a lot of people have regretted getting married, entertained the thought of getting naked for cash, and harbored secret crushes. It’s called being human. Grow the hell up already, will you?
MY SOLUTION: Throw out all the sex, lies, 'n videotape: get creative and cut a lot closer to the bone. How about “Do you hate how your career has turned out?” “Have you ever been more than $100,000 in debt?” “Do you believe that 9/11 was a government conspiracy?” And throw a light one once in a while (though one that still has the potential for embarrassment). “Have you ever thrown up on your birthday cake?”
- It uses a polygraph.
Ugh. What were they thinking? Some stupid contraption that measures if a person is probably, maybe, within a not-unreasonable margin of error, most likely making a statement he or she believes to be false (maybe, kinda, possibly)? And done long before the actual show, so even IF it’s true then, it might not be anymore, but the contestant still has to give the now-wrong answer? I trust that you don’t need me to tell you how messed up this is. Furthermore, it completely nullifies the whole “Ooh, destroyed relationships, shocking, shocking!” part. The contestant can always claim that the polygraph gave an incorrect result, that the contestant has been jumping back and forth that particular issue, that the contestant had a change of heart, etc. And barring a real-life Dr. Strange somehow showing up and lending his services, how the hell do you prove or disprove a person’s privately-held thoughts?
MY SOLUTION: The hell with the polygraph, the hell with the great big aura of secrecy, and the hell with accuracy (which is impossible no matter what). Have the contestant name 25 yeses and 25 noes, then check the yeses for proper entertainment value. They don’t have to be true, they just have to be good! To make things fairer (I actually suggested this in a previous thread), instead of dishing out questions one at a time, put two statements on the screen at once, one true, one false, and have him or her pick out the true one. (This also gives a reason to drop out; as long as the contestant says nothing, the identity of the true one will forever be a mystery, whereas the way it is now refusing to answer is as good as “Yeah, I’m guilty as sin. Well, according to the polygraph, anyway. I think.”)