ST-Why?-D - February 16
Having been in South Florida when "Shop 'til You Drop"
first aired, I had yet to find a mall that looked like
the one on the Stone-Stanley sound stage. Not that I
wanted to or anything. But at least it was quirky for
what it was, grown people acting like little kids and
basically doing what I wanted to do as a kid spending
the summer in Miami... running around a mall and
Then I moved and grew.
Now I think that, save for the Shopper's Challenge
round, there's no real competitive element that would
keep the game moving along. Kind of like Scott and Dave
sat around at their office saying "Hey, what if we made
a grown-up version of 'Fun House'?" It was the kind of
thinking that gave them the unofficial moniker of "the
whipping boy of game show fandom".
They eventually did in
the Greg Kinnear outlet, "College Mad House", but that's
another story for another day.
Over time, the show
itself went from slightly quirky to pretty annoying, as
the show jumped networks. Don't even get me started on
Dee Baker. In case you didn't know, Dee is known for
basically three things.
a) Being the modern-day
voice of Daffy Duck
b) Announcing "Legends of the Hidden Temple", one of the
better shows from the Stone-Stanley team
c) Making a jackass of himself as Grandma Curmudgeon and
other assorted characters
Time marches forward.
I'm guessing the story went like this. Somewhere along
the line and within rerun cycles, Pax was given the
choice to renew either "Supermarket Sweep" or "Shop 'til
You Drop". Ultimately, they went with the mall, which
was quickly torn down and rebuilt as a warehouse-store,
maybe for compensation for the lack of games left in
"Sweep's" wake, but again, I don't know for sure. The
result was basically the same, though... Except for the
lack of running around. But that was made up for in the
collection of the prizes. Oh, and the contestants? They
look like they're either from central casting or they've
been drinking way too much Starbucks. There's energy,
and then there's... well, energy.
So the question
remains... Why is it still on the air? If we were to
take the simplest-equates-best route, one could easily
cite that it's light entertainment which, thanks in some
part to the on-air plugs, costs next to nothing to
produce and yields a semblance of an audience. In this
age of instant-cueing-past-the-commercials and
multimedia marketing, and even in the golden age of game
shows, anyone could tell you that production takes
money, and that money comes from sponsors. Therefore, no
sponsors, no money, no show, so that couldn't be why
it's still on.
So we go to the
audience. Who exactly makes up this audience, I don't
know, but I know that veteran fans see nothing
entertaining about this or any other incarnation of the
series. My colleague and close friend Travis even called
it an insult that a team can win more in prizes on this
show than one person could win in cash on "Win Ben
Stein's Money". That, and so-called "gems" from the camp
are few and far between. But again, not everyone in
America feels the way that the general fan populace
does, and since we have no numbers to gauge the audience
of the show (which reminds me, I need to get on Numbers
Game soon), we wouldn't know for sure, so that's out.
But if there were an
audience of loyal followers, I could understand. To its
merit, Don Priess is a reasonably good announcer,
Grandma Curmudgeon has finally been put in a rest home,
and JD Roberto is better than Pat Finn. Then again, the
latter of the three arguments isn't really saying that
In summary, there's a
saying in Hollywood: "You can do it fast, you can do it
cheap, or you can do it right. Pick any two." Quod erat
demonstrandum, Pax. I just want to know, once and for
This edition of On the
Buzzer is dedicated in loving memory of Janet Lampkin,
who showed me what it meant to live outside the norm.
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