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Who's There?
October 13

ABC has now aired two episodes of the game show "Opportunity Knocks." The concept has been done before: how well do you know your family? The big twist here is that the game is brought to the neighborhood of the family.

The game seems pedestrian, but hides a few clever bits: each family member of four is asked four questions, worth $2,500; $5,000; $7,500 and $10,000. In addition, each family member who goes four-for-four on their packet wins a specially selected dream prize (trip, car, furniture, what-have-you) in addition. The neat twist comes after three right answers: the family member can buy the prize outright for a portion of the bank. Straight out of mothballs from Sale of the Century, it works beautifully.

Unfortunately, less can be said about two other critical parts. Try as J.D. might, there's just no reason for me to care about a family that I've only met less than an hour ago. Much of the fun of a game show is in the play-along, and that doesn't exist here. I can still root for the family to maximize their winnings, but that's it. At least J.D. and Ashton try to make the questions interesting, but ultimately it still comes down to four-way Newlywed Game. If you like that sort of thing, you're 9/10ths there.

The show plugs along, building the bank and winning prizes and hopefully not hurting any feelings, and then we get to the big Final Round. One person is picked to answer the questions, the three other people write down their answers. The family can try to double their money by matching twice, losing nothing if they fail. Or the family can risk all the money to go for $250,000 by matching on all three.

The problem with that is that you're asking a group to bet tens of thousands of dollars on a harder bet than just going for double with zero risk. Sure, a family who has no money might have a flyer on it, because there's so much to gain. But a family with $75,000 isn't going to take up that same offer. This runs counter to what good television is; where players are encouraged to "go for it" and try for the brass ring.

Like Amnesia before it, Opportunity Knocks gets a few things right. It's nice to see a game that isn't another game where every level requires risking everything won to that point. And all of the questions are meant in fun. But the game feels like it takes too long for what it is, and the total non-climax at the end ruins what is a very positive upbeat show. If you get a chance, watch one show to see what it is, because I don't think it'll be around for much longer than the original run.

Travis Eberle can remember who his sister's first date was... even though he cares not to. He can be reached at