From the producers of "The Weakest
Link" comes the most anticipated show of the year, where two complete
strangers get the chance to win more money than on any other game show
in the world, just by completing lists! There is no limit to how rich
you can get! America, it's time to play...
SHOW: THE RICH/MONEY LIST
AIR DATES: November 1, 2006 ("Rich"); June 3, 2009 to August 15, 2009
CREATOR: Jim Cannon, Andy Culpin, Sam Pollard & David Young ("12 Yard")
HOST: Eamonn Holmes ("Rich"); Fred Roggin ("Money")
WATCH IT AT:
YouTube ("Money"; "Rich" episode not found)
Ever since "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" made Disney/ABC a piss-load
of money around the turn of the century, the other networks have been
scrambling to come up with their OWN "big money" primetime game shows.
And, while some were more successful that others ("Deal or No Deal" for
NBC and multiple reality shows on CBS), FOX had its own unique problems
with the concept. Suffice it to say I'll be doing MANY more of these
columns based on FOX primetime games shows in the future. For now,
though, I want to focus on one VERY infamous example: "The Rich List".
Oh, the concept was a decent one: two strangers form a team and must
face ANOTHER team of strangers to make lists to fit various topics;
doing so repeatedly earns them the chance to make a potentially infinite
amount of money in the bonus round. It was hyped to heck in September
and October and, when it finally premiered,...it was trashed in the
ratings to "Lost" and "Criminal Minds" (and, I'm guessing, whatever NBC
was airing as well). It was quickly (and not at all quietly) cancelled
by FOX...but DID manage to get revived for GSN's English version of "Sabado
Gigante", renamed "The Money List". Still, it was the first primetime
game show of the 21st Century to be shelved after just ONE EPISODE! And,
given that I saw said ep and wasn't too impressed by it, I can
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
The first episode starts with two teams of two who are complete
strangers to each other (they literally first meet in front of the host
before the game begins). They are placed in large isolation booths that
the host can turn the sound off and on in at whim. The host then gives
both teams a subject and asks them how many they can list that fit the
subject. One team (determined by coin toss) starts the bidding while the
other team's booth is muted (so the team can discuss possible answers
without being heard). When a team gives a number they say they can list,
their booth is muted and the other's is turned on. The other team is
told the "bid" and can either bid higher or "dare" the other team. It
goes back and forth until one team dares the other...or one team bids
the maximum number of answers for the list. The dared team then makes
the list. If they make even one mistake, the opposing team wins the
list. If they list all they said they would, they win the list. The host
them completes the entire list for the folks at home (as "an unfinished
list is unfinished business"). The bidding on the second list is started
by the team who didn't start the first one.
If a team wins two lists, they win the game and advance to the bonus
round, where they can actually earn money. If both teams each win a
list, a tie-breaker is played. Both booths are un-muted as the host
gives a final subject. Starting with the team that started the first
list, each team gives an answer. The tie-breaker continues until one
team gives a right answer while the other team does not. The one with
the right answer advances to the bonus round.
BONUS ROUND ("THE RICH/MONEY LIST")
The champions are faced with another list of at least 15 correct
answers. No need to bid this time; the team just gives answers they feel
fit the list. For every three right answers, the team earns money on a
ladder format ("Rich" was $10,000; $25,000; $75,000; $150,000 and
$250,000 while "Money" was $5000; $10,000; $15,000; $25,000 and
$50,000). The team is given an option to quit with the money earned or
risk it to try to give three more right answers. One wrong answer
forfeits all money earned.
The champions then play another game against a newly-formed team of
strangers. As long as the champions remain champions, they can keep
playing the bonus game for an infinite amount of money.
So the idea of complete strangers meeting and immediately being thrown
into a game is interesting. I have to wonder if the teams on "GO" were
the same way. It's hard to trust someone you just met, especially with
potential millions at stake. Both teammates may THINK they know more
about a subject than the other...and probably don't want to be shown up
by their partner. So, yeah, interesting psych set-up there.
And the set was your typical "big, flamboyant set for big, flamboyant
money" set FOX seemed to use with fair frequency. Oh, nothing AGAINST
it, mind; when you're up against stiff competition, you HAVE to stand
out. And, like it or not, the set DOES stand out.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
I didn't quite dig the whole "isolation booth" deal. Oh, I understand
WHY; as I said, its so the teams can say their lists out loud without
the other team hearing them. But this ALSO slowed the game down
considerably. While it's smart to MAKE your list before GIVING it, it's
not so smart to BROADCAST teams making the lists. PLUS, while the teams
couldn't hear each other, they could still SEE each other...and you
don't need to be a genius at reading lips to figure out what they say.
(That's why you see people covering their mouths in "Money List"; they
figured it out.) So, apparently, "cheating" wasn't taboo on this show.
While it's cool to be dramatic about whether each item given is "on the
list" or not, it seems a little excessive when you KNOW there's no money
involved yet. It was made clear from the start that teams earn NO money
in the main game and that only champions can earn money in the bonus
round. Yeah, "Will they go on to try to win millions on this answer?" is
NOT as dramatic as "Will they win millions on this answer?".
And SPEAKING of that, they said on the promos that champs could win
millions upon millions. And, yet, the top prize in the bonus round
was...a QUARTER of a million?! That means that the champs would have to
a) win four games straight and b) get 15 right answers in each bonus
game JUST to win ONE million! Did FOX not know that there was already a
game where answering JUST 15 questions makes one a millionaire?! And the
lists in the bonus games were no laughing matter; in the one episode,
the two "Rich List"s given were "Best Picture Oscar winners" and
"Animated Disney Films theatrically released including Pixar". If you a)
don't watch the Oscars regularly and b) don't have kids or (like me) are
a kid at heart, this would be hard AF. It's amazing the one team who won
both games managed to win $175,000 in those two bonus rounds. This was
the opposite of the problem with the "Twenty-One" revival years before;
whereas "Twenty-One" gave away too much money too easily, "The Rich
List" made it too HARD to win too LITTLE money for the effort.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
The concept itself seemed worthy enough for GSN to revive it with much
less money involved. And the show DID have success in Europe and Oceania
(it's still airing new eps in Germany, Spain, New Zealand AND the UK).
But, if GSN couldn't keep it alive, it's proof that the FOX cancellation
was what killed this beast in America. And I'm quite surprised that,
after this debacle, FOX had the nerve to try again years later with
"Million Dollar Money Drop". But that is a GGB story for another time.
Let Europe and NZ have this; the show was (literally) "Lost" to us in
NEXT TIME: The "Newlywed Game"...for kids?!
Chris Wolvie LIKES seeing business get unfinished.
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