From the Virtual VH1 Studios...today,
these two generations will face off to see who knows more about the
music that rocked their world! Welcome to VH1's rock-and-roll showdown!
I'm talkin' 'bout...
SHOW: MY GENERATION
AIR DATES: March 1998 to November 1998
HOST: Craig Shoemaker
WATCH IT AT: YouTube
Since the success of "Remote Control" in the late-1980s, Viacom had been
trying to replicate its success by making OTHER game shows for MTV and
VH1...never realizing that they and other programming was slowly leading
to the demise of those channels primarily as music video players. The
"M" in MTV used to stand for "Music"; now it stands for "Meh". And VH1
now only stands as a reminder that THEY let Rosie O'Donnell loose on an
unsuspecting public. Now, that's not to say the game shows were
BAD...just that they were distracting us from the fact that no music
videos were being played. Over the next few columns, I'll highlight some
of those attempts to make "Remote Control" strike again. We start with
"My Generation", pitting two teams from different graduating classes
against each other to see who knows music (generally) better.
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two teams of two, each team from a different high school graduating
class at least eleven years apart, compete in music-based trivia.
Round 1 (The "Singles Round") introduces five music-title-based
categories (such as "One Trick Pony", "Gimme Three Steps" and "Drive My
Car", with questions in each "generation". A coin flip before the show
decides which team would go first. The team chooses a category and a
"generation" and the host asks a toss-up question ("A-Side") to all four
contestants. Buzzing-in and giving a wrong answer or no answer takes 50
points away and gives the other team a chance to either steal the
question or move to a different category and/or "generation". Buzzing-in
with a RIGHT answer gets 50 points and control. The team player who
didn't answer has a choice of another question ("B-Side") worth +/- 100
points to to move on. Any question can be stolen by the other team. If a
team answers two questions right in a category right, they can opt for a
bonus question for +/- 200 points. A record scratch signals the end of
the round. If an "Aside" question is answered right by the OTHER
"generation", they win a small prize, like a gift certificate to a music
or video store.
Round 2 (The "CD Round") plays exactly the same way, except points are
doubled and the questions are called "Track 1", "Track 2" and "Bonus
Track". Also the round has at least one character-driven category where
an actor gives the questions. For example, "Drive My Car" is given by
"Milo Virder", a dyslexic limo driver (get it?) who picks up music stars
but always mixes up their names on the placards at the airport. A CD
player's "error" beep ends the round.
The final round is the "Speed Round". The host gives rapid-fire
questions for 45 seconds for +/- 200 points each. At the end, the team
with more points wins the game, a prize and advances to the bonus round.
Both teams keep all the smaller prizes they won, whether they win or
lose the game itself.
BONUS ROUND ("MY GENERATION TIME WARP")
The team must now "bridge the generation gap". One player will be shown
an artist name from their own "year" and must give, at most, two words
to describe the artist. The other player must then give the artist name.
They can guess as often as they want. If the artist is guessed right or
passed-on, they move to a different artist closer to the OPPOSING
"year". (EX: If a team from 1992 beat a team from 1980, the first artist
is from 1992, then the next from 1991 or 1990 and so on until the tenth
one is from 1980.) A passed artist CANNOT be returned to. If the team
gets seven out of the ten possible artist names right, they win trips
for two to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Depending on how
many artist names were correctly guessed, the team ALSO wins various
The coolest thing about the show is that it was played in a studio that
was almost ENTIRELY green-screened. This was "Drew Carey's Green Screen
Challenge" long before Drew even DREAMED of hosting "The Price is
Right". The only actual items on the set were the podiums for the host
and teams and one monitor where the categories and questions appear.
This allowed the different "generations" graphics to be changed easily
behind the teams and for the "characters" to appear seemingly out of
nowhere. Not to mention the wicked aesthetic of the "set" during the
"Time Warp". It really shows how far computer graphics and green-screen
technology had advanced
Craig Shoemaker was a stand-up comedian known for his "Lovemaster"
baritone voice (which he mimics in his sign-off for this show). Though
he doesn't tell too many jokes during this show, he attacks it like a
champ, like he studied the rules and practiced his lines to make sure he
gets it right. And it shows; it seems like he's been hosting game shows
"Battle of the sexes" gets a little dated. "Battle of the generations"?
Hardly ever. It was cool to see just how much of, say, 70s music those
who graduated in the late-80s knew...or vice versa. Perhaps they
shouldn't have offered a prize for EVERY right answer in the other
"generation" but...hell, I graduated in '89 and I'm SURE that I could
sweep a 70s category, even back then.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
About the only thing that DIDN'T work were the characters. I know they
were following the lead of "Cousin Flip" and "Stickpin Quinn" and "The
Stud Boy" from "Remote Control" but...that didn't really swing for VH1,
the "adult contemporary" to MTV's "pop and rock". They came out a little
forced, crammed into the show somehow. Oh, they did their job...but not
as convincingly as Adam Sandler and Dennis Leary did on RC.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Well, SURE. Why WOULDN'T it? Of course, they'll have to change some of
the categories because, well, music videos on TV are all but dead. And,
if the characters don't work out, get rid of them ASAP. MTV might be
able to ride it for a while...or, hell, since "Hip-Hop Squares" is a hit
on VH1, why not try that again?
NEXT TIME: Like
your things? Treasure your stuff? Well, if you don't answer quick
enough, we're gonna TRASH 'em!
Chris Wolvie hoped he died before he got old...but, nope, no such
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