S! A! T-U-R! D-A-Y! NIGHT!
Game Show Network (GSN) needs all the help
they can get. They're a third-tier network with mostly decades-old
reruns and mediocre original programming. Big Saturday Night was
announced with some fanfare, and it turned out to be a three-hour train
I was housesitting for my parents when the first episode aired. That was
the only one I've been able to see so far, The actual game show content
was decent, but the wraparound segments were dreadful.
The Money List is a reworking of The Rich List, which lasted a single
episode on the FOX network several years ago. The money is scaled back,
but the game is still about completing lists. Fred Roggin is decent, but
it is obvious that he's being told to read out several “could have said”
answers to drag out the game, rather than getting on with it. The
material tends toward popular culture, but I don't think that's a
20Q stars Cat Deeley, and Hal Sparks is the voice of the antagonist, Mr.
Q. Players try to get onstage by being the first to solve a puzzle in
the style of Double Dare from CBS. After three players have done that,
the game changes to one closer to that of the parlor game Twenty
Questions. The winner of that round gets $5,000 and a spot in the final
challenge. The two winners must solve a Qualifying puzzle as fast as
possible. The winner gets an HDTV and plays against Mr. Q in the bonus
game for $20,000. The champion picks from twenty questions on the board
and must figure out the answer before the computer does to win the game.
I could listen to Cat Deeley's adorable accent for hours on end, and
she's also pleasant to look at, I won't lie. But 20Q should be a half
hour show at most, not a full hour. The best parts are the Qualifying
Round and the final between the last two players.
That leaves us with the wraparound bits. They fall into two categories:
sketches and minigames. The sketches tend to the less-than-funny, One
such example was “hosts before they were stars” featuring a young Alex
Trebek in school. It was obviously Alex because the kid had a maple leaf
on his tie, he was an obnoxious know-it-all and always answered the
teacher with a question. Big Saturday Night's version of the Weekend
Update segment was more timely but not all that much funnier.
The minigames were things like dime-store Pyramid, or “make small words
from a longer phrase.” They were played for thousands of dollars at a
time. I remember in the old days when games like Decades or Trivia Track
would top out at about $1,000 a game. These games were throwing around
$10,000 in each instance. We've come a long way, baby. While being
overpriced, they also weren't that interesting.
Back at the beginning, I alluded to the fact that the network is
struggling. Why then would they decide to make their filler segments
into a middle finger to the people who are going to watch. If you're
watching Game Show Network on a Saturday night, you probably don't have
anywhere else to be. But that doesn't mean that people are going to
The two game shows could easily run as hour-long standalone shows (and
they do on Sunday afternoons). That extra hour of fluff has no reason to
exist, because it's not even close to entertaining. Most networks have
given up Saturday nights as the least watched day of the week, and GSN
would do well to follow suit. Put on some rerun blocks that people could
record, or give us something special. But don't give us tripe under the
guise of a big to-do.
Travis Eberle has big Saturday nights... somewhere else. E-mail him