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Million Dollar Average
Travis Eberle

It's springtime, and that means it's time for the TPIR Million Dollar Spectaculars. Big prizes, bagfuls of money, luxury cars, and of course, the one million dollar spin.

I watched last Saturday, just like always. Except this time I didn't feel the same as after I did the other ones. A $105,000 boat was won in Golden Road, and then things went downhill. The only other big win of the night was a $35,000 truck in Push Over. The Showcases were okay, and there was no millionaire at the end of the hour. And I felt let down. There was no sense of "what a great show that was! How exciting!" It was just another TPIR episode, this time with bigger prizes than normal.

In essence, I've seen it all before. $100,000 Plinko has been done. Three Strikes played for a Corvette? Done. Golden Road for whatever gigantic prize TPIR has in the warehouse? Seen it. There are no surprises left. It's becoming the same thing each time. Let's see three rooms of furniture again. Or a plasma TV. Anything that we haven't seen before.

I could say that lowering the budget might fix the problem, but that's only half of the solution. The TPIR specials that were aired in 1986 had great prizes, but were one or two steps up from what was normally on the show, rather than three or four times as much. On the nighttime shows of 1986, you might see $12,000 cars when the norm was $8,000. Cash games were given more exposure than normal. It was truly special. Now, it's Cadillacs, Lincolns, and big trucks. Whee. Two cars for "Switch?" Yawn. It's the same games being played over and over again. What I wouldn't give to see Check-out, Switcheroo or Hole-in-One given at least one playing. There are over 70 games in the library to pick from. Show some moxie and put out Pick-a-Number, just because you guys can do it.

The other thing that gets under my skin is the self-congratulatory themes of the recent shows. Celebrating 33 years on the air? We could have done the math to figure that out. How about a Special just because? We don't need to salute students, or voting, or Bob's birthday every year. Just do 'em with no theme. I'd love it.

That said, there was one Special I really enjoyed last year: the Teachers Episode. Prizes that were a bit bigger than usual, but not huge. Come to think of it, the Military specials from 2002 were all good watching, especially for a Friday night in summer. Watching deserving people win stuff and having a good time at the same time is good entertainment. TPIR should reel off a few more shows like that. I can get by with the theme when it's a good one.

In all this moaning about the pricing games, I forgot about the main hook of the show, the million dollar spin. According to the rules, if no one gets to spin for it in the Showcase Showdown, the winner of the Showcase gets to try for it. This rule hurts the show more than it helps. The Showcase winner barely gets to celebrate their win before they are brought to the wheel. A miss, and the show ends on a down note, even if the big winner collected over $70,000 in stuff. A big win doesn't get to be celebrated properly. There's no need to guarantee a million dollar spin every show, it's not the reason I'm watching. It's a distraction from the real draw, the games.

In closing, TPIR can still win me back. It won't even take that much work, because I'm already a fan. They just need to go back to what works.

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