We’re three days into the game show experiment that is The Million Second Quiz. In what is easily the most ambitious game since Who Wants to Be a Millionaire back in 1999 (yes, it’s really been that long), NBC has devoted over 11 days of its prime-time schedule to a game that amounts to little more than two people answering questions against each other.
That’s not bad, per se. But while Millionaire managed to capture the imagination of the country by presenting an otherwise simple quiz in a way that produced some of the most organically dramatic and tense moments the genre’s ever seen, MSQ is much more about the destination than the journey. Odd, given that the entire premise of the game revolves around someone accumulating money as each of those one million seconds passes.
As some of you may know, I was able to take part as an alternate contestant on the new GSN game show “The Chase”. While I wasn’t able to make it on the show, I did come away with some great stories about my experience. Most notably, I got to meet one of the most insufferable twerps I’ve ever come across.
No, not him.
Actually, I’m referring to my fellow alternate contestant, a young man by the name of Drew Scheeler. What follows is a blow-by-blow account of my two days on the set of The Chase, in close quarters with Mr. Scheeler, and the many ways he managed to burn more bridges than the Viet Cong.
Well, we’ve reached the end of our journey. Over the past five weeks, we’ve discussed the goofiness of dropping prizes off a conveyor belt, eviscerated revivals that sullied the material they revived, called to the carpet game shows that were light on the game and heavy on the show, and issued a concentrated blast to NBC’s post-Deal failings. In our fifth and final installment, we will reveal four more shows that are worthy of being on our bottom-20 list. We also have one last sidebar, which we’ll be saving for the end this time as it puts a nice ribbon on all of the sins committed by these shows. So without further ado, let’s wrap this thing up:
We’ve reached the midway point of our list where we call the 20 most poorly conceived, poorly produced, and poorly executed game shows that have aired since 2003. In our first installment, we looked at four shows whose only common thread was how bad they were. In the second part, we focused on four revivals of previous shows that completely missed the mark. Before we get into part three, here’s a bonus list for your enjoyment:
Last week, we began our look back at the 20 worst American game shows to air in the last 10 years. In that article, we covered shows where contestants squeezed themselves through styrofoam walls, watched prizes tumble off a so-called “skyscraper”, have victory spoiled on the last clue, and suffered through William Shatner’s ham-handed hosting style. This week, we’ll be crossing four more shows off the list, but first, here’s a little bonus for you:
The past 10 years have not been very good for American game shows as a whole.
Since 2003, a total of 65 traditional (or at least, semi-traditional) game shows have made their debuts on television for national consumption. Of those 65 shows, only three are still in production today: CBS’ revival of Let’s Make a Deal, ABC’s summer obstacle course show Wipeout, and Hub’s surprise hit Family Game Night. Even shows that debuted at the end of last year have already vanished from the airwaves.
Let’s not beat around the bush: a lot of the reason why so few shows have survived the decade is because a lot of them were outright trash. In fact, there are a lot of shows that you can probably think of that could conceivably be on this list of 20. But after several weeks of research and observation, I can now comfortably present to you the list of the 20 worst shows from the past 10 years.
The criteria was simple:
- The show had to have debuted no earlier than March of 2003.
- It has to be either a traditional, studio-based game show, or some other open competition that could be resolved within one episode or, if a game straddled over multiple episodes, started on one show and ended on the next. This would rule out most reality-type competitions.
- The game had to involve civilian contestants. All-celebrity shows like AMC Celebrity Charades and Gameshow Marathon were ruled out.
- It has to be a show that was especially bad. There were plenty of shows that were produced between 2003 and now that were basically throwaways: shows that neither aspired to be much more than schedule filler nor generated much attention.
- Finally, this list is not a countdown; there is no #1 worst show of the decade, mainly because a few of them are collectively among the bottom. Instead, they’re grouped based on the specific properties of the show: ill-fated revivals, for example, or shows that all originated from one particular network.
Along the way, I’ve asked a few of my friends to chime in with their own insights on these shows. In some cases, you’ll hear from people who were a contestant on the show, tried out to be a contestant, or sat in the audience for one of their tapings. If you’d like to make your opinions known about these shows (or any of the shows we’ll be revealing in the future), feel free to leave a comment.
And so, without further ado, here are the first four shows of our list:
Video Review #3 is now up, for the Wii version of The Price is Right. Enjoy!