The Downfall of Game Shows

I had a couple of things I wanted to get to this evening, but found myself sorting ties, paperwork and laundry. That meant I found myself in front of television. It was a major network, and so that meant I found myself in front of bad television. Sorry to harp on game shows, but Downfall is exactly that to anyone that wastes an hour on this crap.

Every show has to have a gimmick, I understand that. You have to distinguish yourself. Monty Haul made deals with people in weird off-Halloween costumes. Pat Sajack offered people the chance to spend their winnings on a showcase of prizes. The joker was wild, contestants tried to avoid the Whammy, and you never, ever said the password above a whisper.

Recent game shows are far inferior to those we grew up with, and that’s not just an “In my day” kind of judgment. I noted before that Minute to Win It is a crap game show, but I could just as easily have been talking about Who Wants to be a Millionaire or one of a dozen other knock-offs. The formula these days is to give away a huge amount of money — forget about the $64,000 question — but to hedge their bets that someone might actually win the big prize, producers are substituting real production value for lights, music and stupid delays. On Jeopardy, we see three people who give us one semi-interesting fact or anecdote about themselves, but the rest of the show is questions so we can shout answers at the television from home. It used to be that you could get five or six contestants through an episode, or at least three head-to-head, while now we have to listen to inane stories and risk epileptic seizures from the crazy set, so the producers can minimize their risk to pay out more money than the show is worth.

Downfall is another in the line of modern game shows, where the sole gimmick is that they send people’s stuff off a conveyor belt to be smashed on a concrete surface below. They have to answer a series of questions, but it doesn’t really work out to be anything you can play along with at home (in my humble opinion, the hallmark of a good game show). Apparently, they’re instead trying to get along with another creepy host. This woman had just finished talking about her husband and two children, and he was practically sticking his tongue in her ear while she decided what category to pick next. Bob Barker, I’ll see your obligatory hugs and raise you one.

I felt bad for the contestant after that, until the exchange following another round of questions. Actual quote:

Oh, gosh. I worked at Hooters. I should know that one.

For Pete’s sake, don’t encourage the man. His response after a few more interchanges:

Now I really want you to stay.

I don’t. The only interesting part to me was that after hitting the “panic button” a certain number of times, instead of furniture the contestants get to put a person on the conveyor belt to risk crashing to the floor below – I’d try to get on the show just so I could ask for one of the producers to be my potential drop. I’d like to think I wouldn’t throw that round on purpose, but I can’t promise anything.

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One Response to The Downfall of Game Shows

  1. Pingback: How Did You Get Here? | The Popdialectic

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