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I'm Sorry, The Correct Answer is GET OUT! - January 25

As a game show geek, whenever a new show premieres I get excited. I can't help it; it just happens. Sometimes the payoff is greater than the wait (Idiot Savants, Millionaire) and sometimes it isn't (Friend or Foe, Twenty-One). Discovery Channel's "Cash Cab" is worth the wait, even though it's been out for several weeks by now.

The game is simple and unpretentious: answer questions until you reach the destination or you get three wrong. The 'shout out' provision is very "Millionaire" inspired, but that's OK, several shows have 'helping hand' type things now. The "Red Light Challenge" and "Video Bonus" more than make up for it. There aren't any complicated rules, it's just question-answer-question-answer-get out. No bizarre equation to determine how much the next question is worth; they start at $25 for four, then go to $50 for four, and finally go up to $100. That's it. Three wrong and your rump is on the curb. It's as easy as that. No second chances, no public vote to put you back in the game. Simple is better here.

And I can't in good conscience write this without mentioning the great light show that goes off when someone enters the cab.

Ben Bailey also gets a tip of the hat as host; driving around New York City with that earpiece in there, chatting with the contestants and keeping the game flowing. I doubt that the contestants just 'happened' upon the Cash Cab, and that they leave with all those greenbacks, but that's not important, it's a fun way to pass a half hour.

I hope that "Cash Cab" takes game shows back to a bygone era - one where money wasn't used as a crutch to prop up a weak game. When drama was in the game, and could be present when there were only a few thousand dollars on offer, and the excitement was real, not forced. I would welcome more game shows that have an interesting premise at the core, and don't rely on wacky stunts, voting out people, or debasing of the players.

If you want to take a trip back in time to the good old days of game shows, hop in the "Cash Cab." You'll enjoy it. If not, that's your loss.

Travis Eberle drives a beat-up Chevy Caprice. E-mail him at traviseberle@gmail.com to poke fun at his ride.

 

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