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Missed the Mark
Travis Eberle

Those who know me know that I like to watch TV. Specifically, I spend most of that time on game shows. I really enjoy a good game show/contest. I love it when a show reaches its full potential. "The Mole" may have been too smart for its own good, but it was all that it could be. On the other hand, I am almost hurt when a show seems to have the proof of concept down, but somewhere along the line the idea falls flat. This is about shows that miss the mark at some point.

"The Scholar" is most recent in the line of 'almost great'. There are some glaring flaws that should have been fixed. Rob Nelson should be legally enjoined from ever appearing in front of a television camera ever again. From the blink-and-you'll-miss-it "Under One Roof" to his own eponymous talk show, Rob has shown that he has no business putting on a suit and holding the mike. The Admissions Showdown lacks any sort of drama. It's not because the round isn't that great, even though it's not, but because Rob is so nondescript that he melts into the background. Anyone should be able to draw out the drama in a round where each question could be worth $50,000 or nothing at all. But there's no excitement there. It's not even about being a competent question reader, because he's fine at that, but there's no element of tension or drama in his voice. Paging Pat Kiernan, Mr. Kiernan to the courtesy phone...

The next thing is the format itself. The first round serves only to divide the teams. That, and eat up some show time. The winners don't receive anything for placing high in this round. It's just there, and frequently uninteresting to watch. People putting together blank maps of the United States? Whee. Just let me find my OWN map so I can play along. Yawn.

The next round is almost as much of a snooze: the Team Round, where the captain on the winning team gets a bye into the Admissions Showdown. This is the part of the show where the contestants' 'extra-curricular' talents are put to the test. I'm not watching to see which team can put together a better pep rally, or making a movie based on a famous quote; I want to see buzzer battles, tough questions and high drama. I'm getting none of that. Anyway, after the second snooze of the night, the nine 'also-rans' go before the Scholarship Committee to see which two people will compete for the $50,000, and a spot in the $250,000 final. Again: not liking this. No "wild-card" round, or anything? We get to see two people becoming the Chosen Ones.

Finally comes the Big Payoff. Each of three students takes turns answering questions, losing out when they miss. Last one standing takes home the scholarship. They stand at wooden desks, no signs of a mushroom buzzer, no isolation booths or anything. It is quite possibly the most boring anti-climax round in television history. A winner is crowned, and the show goes to the final break. Yah-hoo.

ABC missed the boat. As a quiz show, The Scholar gets an incomplete. As a 'reality show,' it gets a C-, because we do get to see the trials and tribulations that the kids go through, trying to win the money. I'll stick with the show to see who the winner is, but ABC seems to do worse and worse with each effort. That's a shame, too, because I want this show to succeed.

Travis Eberle just proved what happens when you piss a teacher off. E-mail him at


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