How would you save Moment of Truth?

[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:

  1. 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)

  1. 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?”

  1. 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.”)

All I knew about the show was from what I saw on cmmercials, and had no intention of watching people do that kind of thing for money…but I wikied the episode guide and found that about half the contestants walked away with $100,000…so I’m not sure your Point One is valid.

As for Point Two…well…I don’t think your topics will get eyeballs. Sorry…the adultury questions are far, far more scandalous. Although I read that the man whose son was told by his ex-wife that he had gambled away the boy’s college fund, and the answer revealed that he had ben truthful about NOT gambling it away…that seems to be pretty powerful stuff.

Point Three…I dunno. How else are they going to fetter the truth out? As seen from the previous example, you can’t really rely on what people tell the producers.

I’m not sure the show needs to be saved…it’s one of the few coming back. Amnesia, 1vs100, Identity, all gone. Moment of Truth returning.

Since this is primarily about a TV show (admittedly a game show, but we’re not really talking about game theory or mechanics here), I think this is best suited for Cafe Society. I’ll move it for you.

It can be saved by sealing all of the studio exits and flooding the building with some sort of paralyzing nerve agent. Make absolutely certain that Mark “Not The Talented One” Wahlberg is in there.

Oh wait, that’s how we can be saved.

And load the briefcases on DoND up with some of that gas too so it kills the models one by one, then the contestant, and finally Howie Mandel. I fucking hate that show.

And oh shit, there’s a new version of WWTBAM? Or do you mean the syndicated version with Meredith Viera that’s been around for several years? I hate that fucking show too. I hate all those shows and their fake-ass drawn out artificial “drama.” I particularly hated Millionaire’s agonizingly slow deliberations by the contestant (brilliantly parodied by the Simpsons with Moe in the hot seat). The only one of those that was ever any good was Dog Eat Dog and that was only because they’d usually have some hot guy in his swimsuit or stripping for at least one of the games. Hell, I used to get impatient watching the old Scrabble show after I got the answer in like two letters (if not off the clue) and those puzzles only lasted a minute. Spare me the “drama” and get on with the game.

And bring back The Weakest Link, goddammit!

Have a phone number that people can call or a number that people can text to that determines the level of electric shocks that contestants will recieve for being scumbags?

It’s the popularity of shows like this that I point to when people ask me why I’m so cynical about the true nature of human beings.

All of your suggestions are about making the show “better,” i.e. more of a structured game with less of the sleazy, scummy elements. And I absolutely guarantee that if you do that, if you force viewers to pay attention to the strategy, and give them less opportunity to (using your word) “gloat” about the participants’ misfortune, ratings will go down.

I can’t really watch this show for more than a minute or two at a time, but it’s worth getting familiar with it as an illumination of our culture, and of human nature. And, frankly, thinking about millions of people watching this and getting off on it makes my skin crawl.

But mark my words: if you changed the format as you describe, fewer people would enjoy it. And that is what really creeps me out.

Your thread title begs the question whether the show is worth saving.

I’ve caught two episodes. The Wife and I agree that we would be too boring to be contestants.

This is the worst show ever. Why would you lie if you knew the correct answer was going to come out anyway? Even if you think you can beat the polygraph, you’ve already come clean over other stuff, why stop now? Why would you go on the show if you didn’t want the truth to come out? Why would you lie once you’re on the show if you knew it was going to come out anyway?

Even if they DON’T lie, how do they prove the show is telling the truth (as someone else on this board brought up)? “Wait a minute, I DIDN’T cheat on my wife!” “Sorry, can’t prove it, no prize for you!”

I think it’s fixed.

It’s just an unworkable show, and I feel like the public is getting duped as they lack an understanding of probability. As I stated in an earlier thread, even if the lie detector is 99% accurate, you only have an 80% chance of going all the way. At 90% accuracy, you only have a 10% chance of going the distance.

They should put this thing down.

'Bout time I found this thread again. Oh, and thanks, fluiddruid, for explaining why it’s here now. I’m not up on all these subtle nuances, so it’s good to be able to learn one.

ArizonaTeach - $100,000? Really? Dang. Wish I could’ve seen that; I’ve seen roughly eight different contestants, and none of them took home anything. In any event, I really don’t like the idea of one bad result completely ruining the contestant’s entire efforts. Lose all money (Press Your Luck, Wheel of Fortune) or end the game (WWTBAM, The Price is Right, The Amazing Race), fine, definitely workable, but not both, and ESPECIALLY not with the “correct” answers being determined by a flamin’ polygraph.

Which brings me to my next point, “Fettering the truth out”, as you put it. Don’t you see? This is IMPOSSIBLE! It’s possible to beat a polygraph, and it’s also possible to give a false “lie” result. Maybe it doesn’t happen all that often, but as T-Square put it, even if it’s 90% accurate, that means it’s 10% inaccurate, and you have no way of knowing which 10% it is. The contestant can claim whatever he or she wants about the results, and neither you nor Haruhi will be able to disprove (or prove) any of it.

Let the contestant decide. Again, all it has to be is GOOD. This is a free country, shoudn’t they be able to choose their poison? Heck, just imagine what future workplace conversations will be like. (“Hey, Frank, saw you on that game show last night. Man…I always knew you were a dog person, but damn!” “Huh? Oh, uh, forget that, I just made that up 'cause it thought it’d sound good.” “Oh-kay, whatever you say, pal…ruf ruf.” “IT’S NOT TRUE! I MADE IT UP!! I SWEAR TO GOD!!” :smiley: )

Cluricaun - In other words, give greater incentive to quit and take the cash? Hmm…not a bad idea, but you’re still going to need a lot more cash to make it really work. Again, look at DonD. A world to gain and tons to lose. This show is essentially a lottery (and one that bends over backwards to make every contestant feel like utter crap, at that), and it’s ridiculously popular because of the thrill of the huge gamble. Destroying a marriage for car money just doesn’t have the same pop.

DrFidelius - Hey, if The Amazing Race can justify it’s horrendously rigged and played-out existence, Moment of Truth is definitely salvagable. At its heart, its simply about people unafraid of hard truths. Think about the directions this could go. Politics! Ecological issues! Workplace issues! Religion (including rejection of all religion)! Heck, any kind of unpopular viewpoint about popularly-held beliefs!

I honestly believe that there’s a great concept here with a ton of potential, and the only thing holding it back is the insistence on tabloid fluff. Sure, that stuff may be appealing now. But if it ever gets old…if there start being protests, maybe even legal action…if the show needs to go in a different direction…well, it might just be worth it.

(Probably not, but I’m not asking for predictions here.)