Game shows get old fast. Regis was great but we grew tired of seeing only nerds become Millionaires on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” The “Weakest Link” was an angry twist on a trivia game show, but screaming the word “BANK” over and over again at my television set grew tired. And, of course, watching “Are you Smarter than a 5th grader” would have been fun if I could stomach even a minute of Jeff Foxworthy. (Hey, I just came up with a joke! If you can watch more than a minute of Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck. Okay, not funny but I had to reference his awful stand-up.)
The bottom line is, no matter how many wheels we make people spin, no matter how many celebrities we put in squares and no matter how many doors we put their prizes behind, it’s only a matter of time before we get tired of a game show. The problem is that game shows are games. They are no different than video games, bored games, sidewalk games, the list goes on. If you play them too much, they get redundant and boring. Even Tetris, the most addicting game of my childhood, wore me down at some point.
Despite being aware of our short attention span for game shows, the TV networks keep coming up with new ways to get us to watch them. Take “Downfall” for example, ABC’s newest prime time game show. “Downfall” allows the contestant to choose a category, then to name the item that is being described in the category. As they are being asked these questions, a conveyor belt of prizes passes them by. The more correct answers the contestant gives, the more prizes stay on the belt. The more questions they get wrong, the more prizes they watch fly off the side of the building.
That’s right. These contestants don’t just lose the prizes, they watch them fall off the side of the building. Interesting twist, right? It gets better. Lose all the prizes, and the contestant themselves get tossed off the side of the building. And by “tossed,” I mean they are strapped to a bungee cord and gently lowered off the side of the building.
The questions are fairly easy, yet ABC has managed to find contestants that seem to have no clue what town “the Flinstones” lived in or what kind of food Kentucky Fried Chicken serves. (The Flinstones town is IN the theme song and chicken is IN KFC’s title!!) The show is hosted by Chris Jericho, and while he’s no Regis, he’s certainly charismatic and charming (a far cry from when he’s on Monday Night Raw telling the audience they are “gelatinous tape worms.”) Since Chris Jericho comes from a wrestling background and Regis comes from a hosting background, the learning curve has to be put in place.
In an ironic twist, a game show filled with easy trivia, throwing prizes off a building, throwing contestants off a building and a WWE wrestler as the host, is actually enjoyable. I yelled at my TV, I laughed at the cheesiness and I rolled my eyes at the lame jokes. I know it sounds like a chore, but all those emotions actually make a game show… kind of fun to watch.
Is this show going to make us all smarter with its genius trivia and contestants? No, not at all. Is it breaking boundaries for television? Not really. Is it an easy summer primetime show to watch? Yeah, it is. When I want to watch groundbreaking television, it will not be the show I put on. When I want to watch something I can mock around the water cooler tomorrow, it will be the show I turn to.
Throwing people off a building to get us to watch game shows again… what will they think of next? I’ll let you know when I get bored of watching this so we can start working on the next wacky twist.