Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TV: Minute to Win It

The success of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” touched off the current game show resurgence, but “Millionaire,” like other quiz shows, proved to be too cerebral and wordy to appeal to the broad audience required for primetime TV. As such, the networks have been progressively dumbing things down. Even if you didn’t speak English, for instance, you could probably figure out a game show like “Deal or No Deal.”

The NBC game show "Minute to Win It" sets the comprehensibility bar even lower; it pits contestants against a variety of physical challenges that employ household objects. The challenges range from the simple (use a tape measure to roll a ping pong ball into a shot glass) to the insane (balance an egg on top of a lightbulb using table salt). All must be completed in under a minute. Some challenges are much harder than they look:

The show has some great little touches. The enthusiastic Guy Fieri, a Food Channel celebrity chef, makes for an amiable host, and the little video introductions for each challenge are well-done (somebody at NBC must be a "Portal" fan). Still, the stage settings, camera work, and challenges lack a certain visual panache. For a better take on the same idea, check out the ITV show "The Cube" (awesome "Matrix"-style bullet time effects start around the 6:30 mark):


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