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Davies Delight - July 20

It is a time of great trepidation with regard to game shows. It seems like every game show is a carbon copy of another. Million dollar prizes, dark lights, spooky music and "helps" are everywhere. And yet, one man dares to be different. One man is producing game shows that rely on good games, good contestants and good hosts.

I realize that Chain Reaction is on the Davies CV, but I think much of the reason for that show's suckitude is laid at the feet of the contestant coordinators, who were not able to find contestants that were able to play the game, much less put together intelligible guesses. So we'll call that a wash. That leaves the recently completed World Series of Pop Culture and the forthcoming Grand Slam.

VH1's World Series of Pop Culture brought together sixteen trios, each vying for a $250,000 cash prize and title of champion. The show oozed atmosphere: from the team uniforms that competitors wore (ranging from robes to baseball shirts) to the dark lights and tense music. The two-week series had the feel of a sports playoff; especially when one semi-final match-up had eight tie-breaking rounds to determine the survivor. No helps, no money tree, just stacks of questions and a reader who brought the audience to stitches with his readings of rap lyrics. I hope that VH1 will show this series the respect it deserves, and keep it as a yearly summer event.

From that, we go to Grand Slam, the American debut of a British quiz show. Sixteen former game show winners compete in a tournament for $100,000 and the title of Grand Slam Champion. Rutter, Jennings, McKee, Carpenter, Pawlowicz...all names known to the game show world, and all will be competing in the series. The two last slots do leave me a bit puzzled: Amy Kelly, who won $20,500 on GSN's Lingo, and the 15th slot (facing Ken Jennings in the first round) goes to one of the members of the team that won the World Series of Pop Culture.

The selection of Kelly makes a bit of sense; she appeared on a GSN show and is the biggest money winner, but that's only because she managed to be on a team that won a $41,000 cash jackpot. The Pop Culture champion, while coming from a Davies production, makes less sense, since he will be well-versed in only one topic; the other contestants have experience in several different formats. I think Rutter and Jennings will have easy first rounds, but that's just as well as having those two bounced early on would make for a boring final.

Make no mistake; if Grand Slam is patterned after the British version (where Countdown and various quiz show winners competed to answer questions in words and language, math problems, general knowledge, and a brutal final round where questions could come from any previous topic) then we're in for a treat.

Travis Eberle is just happy that Pat Kiernan is being brought in to read the questions for Grand Slam. Drop him a line at traviseberle@gmail.com to have Travis bust some mad rhymes your way.

 

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