Tag: game show

GAME SHOW REVIEW: The Wall

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes information about a television program that some readers of this blog post may have not watched yet. Additionally, information about the television program that is the subject of this blog post is based on an aired pilot episode of the series; information about the format of future episodes of the series may differ from the format of the aired pilot episode. Furthermore, the pilot episode may have not aired on all NBC affiliates in the United States, although the NBC affiliate in my area of the country (WAND-TV) did air the pilot episode.


Some game show ideas are bad. Some game show ideas are good, but not well executed. Then there’s game show ideas that are rip-offs of other game shows or elements of other game shows.

NBC’s latest attempt at a primetime game show is called The Wall, which aired its pilot episode last night, with the series premiere proper scheduled for next month. The show gets its name from a giant wall with pegs on it that is designed to allow an object to drop between the pegs into one of multiple slots. I think I remember this concept from another game show…

The central part of the game is not much more than a blatant ripoff of Plinko, a longtime pricing game that appears frequently on the CBS game show The Price is Right (TPiR). However, there are some key differences between The Wall and Plinko…whereas Plinko’s only major secondary element is a small-item pricing segment, The Wall has multiple and completely different secondary elements, including trivia questions and an isolation chamber.

The Wall is played by a couple working as a team, and the game has four rounds (although the fourth round is effectively an extension of each the first three rounds):

  • The first round involves either member of the couple having to hit a button corresponding to one of two possible answers to a trivia question. If they guess correctly before the first of three balls falls into any slot at the bottom of the wall, the total cash amount associated with each slot with a ball in it is added to the couple’s bank. If they guess incorrectly or fail to lock in an answer before the first of three balls falls into any slot at the bottom of the wall, the total cash amount associated with each slot without a ball in it is removed from the couple’s bank. If the couple has a positive amount of money in the bank, the couple goes on to the second round. If the couple were to have a negative amount of money in the bank after the first round, the game ends and the couple wins nothing.
  • The second and third rounds play in a similar manner with a few differences. One of the members of the couple go to an isolation chamber and are responsible for answering multiple-choice trivia questions with three (second round) or four (third round possible answers, while the other contestant is responsible for making decisions about what slot at the top of the wall to drop red (two + one for each incorrect trivia answer in second round, four + one for each incorrect trivia answer in third round) or green (two + one for each correct trivia answer in second round, four + one for each correct trivia answer in third round) balls from. The two (second round) and four (third round) automatic red balls must be dropped from the same slots at the top of the wall as the automatic green balls were dropped from at the start of the round in question. Additionally, the contestant not in the isolation chamber has the option of playing two balls from the same slot of the top of the wall on the second trivia question of the second and third rounds, as well as the option of playing three balls from the same slot of the top of the wall on the third trivia question of the second and third rounds; the decision must be made prior to the trivia question being asked to the contestant in the isolation chamber. Wherever a red ball lands results in money being removed from the couple’s bank, and wherever a green ball lands results in money being added to the couple’s bank. However, if a red ball lands in a slot worth more money than what is in the couple’s bank, the couple’s bank goes to $0, not to a negative dollar amount (this happened once on the aired pilot episode, at the end of the second round). The second-from-the-right slot at the bottom of the wall is valued at $250,000 (second round) and at $1,000,000 (third round)
  • The fourth round does not involve the use of the wall, but, instead, involves a decision that the contestant in the isolation chamber must make involving a contract. A contract is offered to the contestant in the isolation chamber, and the contestant in the isolation chamber has the option of either signing the contract or ripping the contract up. The contestant in the isolation chamber is not told how many questions he/she answered correctly in the second and third rounds, nor is the contestant in the isolation chamber told how much money is in the bank after the third round. If the contract is signed, the couple wins the amount of money in the bank after the first round, plus $20,000 for each correctly-answered trivia question in the second and third rounds. If the contract is ripped up, the couple wins the amount of money in the bank after the third round, if there is any money in the bank after the third round.

Unfortunately, there are several major cracks in the The Wall:

  • As I mentioned earlier, the centerpiece of the game is a blatant ripoff of Plinko from TPiR. I’m not an attorney, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if FremantleMedia (the company that produces TPiR for CBS) were to sue NBC and the producers of The Wall (which include host Chris Hardwick and professional basketball player LeBron James, among others).
  • The show appeared to lack a traditional game show announcer; as a result, Hardwick announced himself as the host at the start of the show (normally, game show hosts are introduced at the start of an episode by an off-camera announcer), however, the crowd cheering Hardwick’s entrance drowned out Hardwick introducing himself to the television audience.
  • The trivia questions are very easy for a show where it is possible for a couple to win $12,000,000 in cash.
  • It would be possible for a couple to answer every single trivia question correctly and win absolutely nothing, and it would also be possible for a couple to win nearly a million dollars with as few as two correct trivia answers (one in the first round, and one in the third round).

Now, there have been far worse game shows that have aired on American television (such as this one) than The Wall, but it looks like NBC might be tearing down The Wall sooner than later.

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Game Show Review: 500 Questions

ABC has aired the first episode of a seven-part game show miniseries called 500 Questions, in which a single contestant tries to answer 500 trivia questions correctly for cash. Six more episodes are scheduled to air over most ABC affiliates; the next episode is scheduled to air tonight at 8 P.M. Eastern/7 P.M. Central, with the remaining episodes scheduled to air this coming Friday and Monday through Thursday next week. Check your local listings for air dates and times.

The show’s gameplay involves a single contestant, a challenger, and trivia questions. A single game consists of 10 rounds, with a total of 50 questions per round. In each round, ten categories of questions are used, with five questions per category. Should the contestant complete all ten rounds by answering 500 questions, the contestant wins the game. Should, at any point in the game, the contestant give three consecutive incorrect answers, the game ends, the contestant is eliminated, and the challenger becomes the new contestant. Should the contestant answer the 50th question in a round correctly, the challenger is eliminated and is replaced by a new challenger. Usually, the contestant picks which category will be used for a particular question, with one exception: When the contestant has given two consecutive incorrect answers, the challenger picks the category. The host of the show is Richard Quest, who hosts a business news program on CNN International and occasionally appears on some programs on the U.S. version of CNN.

There are four different types of question formats that are used on 500 Questions:

  • Regular – For regular questions, the contestant has ten seconds to give a single correct answer to a trivia question. Should the contestant’s first answer be correct, the contestant banks $1,000, except for the 25th and (presumably) 50th questions of each round, where the contestant wins $5,000 that is his/hers to keep, no matter what. Should the contestant give the correct answer within the ten-second time limit, the contestant is credited with a correct answer, but doesn’t bank any money. Should the contestant fail to give the correct answer within ten seconds, the contestant is credited with a wrong answer.
  • Battle – For battle questions, the contestant and the challenger go back and forth providing answers to a question with multiple correct answers. When it’s his or her turn, each player has five seconds to give a correct answer. Should all of the correct answers be given, or should the challenger give a wrong answer, the contestant is credited with a correct answer and banks $1,000. Should the contestant either give a wrong answer or fail to give an answer within five seconds on his/her turn, the contestant is credited with a wrong answer.
  • Top 10 – For top 10 questions, either the contestant or the challenger has to provide five correct answers to a question, with a 15-second time limit and a maximum of ten answer attempts. The contestant can either play the question or pass the question to the challenger. Should the contestant opt to play the question gives five correct answers without running out of time or answer attempts, the contestant is credited with a correct answer and banks $1,000. Should the contestant opt to pass the question, and the challenger runs out of time or answer attempts before giving five correct answers, the contestant is credited with a correct answer and banks $1,000. Should the contestant play the question and run out of time or answer attempts before giving five correct answers, the contestant is credited with a wrong answer. Should the contestant pass the question, and the challenger gives five correct answers without running out of time or answer attempts, the contestant is credited with a wrong answer.
  • Triple Threat – For triple threat questions, the contestant has to provide three correct answers to a question, with a ten-second time limit. Should the contestant give three correct answers within the 10-second time limit, the contestant banks $3,000 and is credited with a correct answer. Should the contestant run out of time before giving three correct answers, the contestant is credited with a wrong answer.

Since the contestant on the first episode didn’t reach the 50th question before the end of the episode, I don’t know if the contestant wins the money he/she has banked for giving a correct answer on the 50th question and starts winning money for each question after the 50th question, or if the contestant wins the money he/she has banked for a correct answer on the 50th question of each round.

Below the line break is my review of 500 Questions.


Format

The format of the show is going to receive low marks from me, for one simple reason: There’s only seven scheduled episodes, and the contestant on the first episode isn’t currently on track to answer 500 questions before the end of the seventh episode. In fact, the first of ten rounds was still in progress at the end of the first episode! However, there are a couple of good things about the show’s format: First, the questions are difficult, as one would expect from a primetime quiz show, but not ridiculously difficult. Second, there’s no lifelines or multiple choice answers to make things easier for the contestant. I’ll give the format a 4 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Host

The host of the show is Richard Quest, who, to my knowledge, has no prior experience hosting a game show and has spent most, if not all, of his broadcasting career in cable news. However, Quest is a surprisingly good game show host, having not made any mistakes that I noticed on the first episode and having conducted himself in an engaging, professional manner. One issue I do have with Quest is that he’s not that great at explaining the rules of the game, although he didn’t explain anything incorrectly on the first episode that I noticed. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Quest is considered as a possible host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy! when Alex Trebek decides to retire, probably in 2018. I’ll give Quest a 8 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Set

The show’s set is very dark, even by the standards of a primetime quiz show, although I didn’t have any difficulty reading most of the graphics that were displayed in the studio. The only studio graphics that I had trouble reading were the category labels, as the font for them is too crunched down for me to see without my eyeglasses. I’ll give the show’s set a 5 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Conclusion

On a scale of 0 to 30, 500 Questions earns a score of 17. While the show’s format is overly long and is filmed in a very dark studio, the show’s host and questions with just the right difficulty make it worth the seven episodes the series is scheduled for.

Aaron Camp, Executive Producer

If I were the executive producer of this show, I would completely reformat the show, rename the show, and hope that the show would get at least a 13-week run on a major network, probably in primetime. Here’s how I would format the show:

  • The show would be renamed 50 Questions.
  • Money banked would be won for every tenth question answered correctly.
  • Battle questions and top 10 questions would be worth $2,000.
  • Ten consecutive correct answers by the contestant would eliminate the challenger.
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire?-style fast finger segment, but with typed answers instead of multiple-choice answers, would be used to select contestants and challengers.
  • 50 questions answered correctly without three consecutive wrong answers would result in the contestant winning the game.
  • The set would be nowhere near as dark.
  • The grand prize for winning the game would consist of, in addition to the money won by correct answers during the game, a jackpot consisting of a luxury or sports car, a few other nice prizes (such as trips, boats, trailers, rooms of furniture, full set of kitchen appliances, etc.), and a very large amount of cash, with any unearned cash that was banked being added to the jackpot each time a contestant fails to outright win the game.

While I don’t think that 500 Questions is going to last more than the seven episodes it’s currently scheduled for, it’s an interesting game show.