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with Chris Wolvie
May the Odds NEVER Be in Your Favor
July 13
Tonight, one of these lottery winners could get a chance to win BIG money! And they're not playing for "Monopoly money"; they're playing for COLD, HARD CASH! We've flown all these lottery winners here for a luxurious Vegas vacation, they're chance to be on TV and and win ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Tonight who will become the newest member of the...

AIR DATES: March 28, 2015 to April 30, 2016
CREATOR: Steve Saferin
HOST: Billy Gardell


When you plunk down a spare dollar or two for a lottery ticket in one of the 31 states, DC or the US Virgin Islands that allow lotteries, you expect to, if you're REALLY lucky, break even. You NEVER expect to be on a game show, right? Well, while various state lotteries had their own game shows based on winning scratch-offs, the Multi-State Lottery Association - the people behind Powerball and Mega-Millions - ran a multi-state game called "Monopoly Millionaires' Club". And, while you could win a ton of bucks by yourself, what you REALLY wanted with this game was to lose and enter a second-chance drawing to be selected to fly to Las Vegas and meet the "Mike" in "Mike & Molly" for your chance to win up to a million bucks. While that may SOUND exciting, even winning ANYTHING in the games to QUALIFY to try for the million was absolute murder!

The audience - made completely of winners of the drawing - is divided into five (later three) sections marked by tokens from the board game. One person from each section is designated the "game player" for the section and will actually play the game. In each segment, a section is chosen and the game player joins the host on the main floor to play a "Price Is Right"-style game for up to $100,000, which is divided 50/50 between the player and the rest of the section. The games are (loosely) based on parts of the Monopoly game:
NO VACANCY: Fill up as many rooms in the MMC hotel as possible without overbooking a floor.
PARK IT!: Park five cars of various values in the MMC Garage so that no lower-priced car is above a higher-priced car.
RIDE THE RAILS: Earn as much money as possible by stopping trains in their tracks before seeing the caboose.
ADVANCE TO BOARDWARK: Roll a die and move your token towards Boardwalk WITHOUT rolling the same number twice.
ELECTRIC COMPANY: Throw switches to light light bulbs and earn money but don't light TOO many or you'll blackout.
BLOCK PARTY: Pick cards to capture all the monopolies before earning three strikes.
COMMUNITY CHESTS: Pick chests of increasing amounts or lose everything.
BANK BUSTER: Use keys to crack the safe but don't RE-lock more than one lock.
Most of the games could be quit on at any time with the money banked being split the same way. During the second season, rules were adjusted for COMMUNITY CHEST to make it faster to accomodate the half-hour run-time.

Also between games, co-host Todd Newton would give a different contestant a chance at up to $10,000 with a simple mini-game.

The game players who won money are given a choice between giving up their winnings to "GO For a Million" or not. The player who says "GO" with the highest winnings gets to play. If there is a tie, the player is chosen at random.

The game is played much like the bonus game in the first "Monopoly" game show: the object is for the player to roll a pair of dice a maximum of five times and get around the standard Monopoly board once. The difference is that each property landed on - from Baltic through Boardwalk - adds money to a bank that can be split with the section the player represents. As for the other spaces:
RAILROAD: Landing on a railroad gives the player a trip for themselves.
JAIL/JUST VISITING: Player gets a trip to Alcatraz.
FREE PARKING: Player gets a 1 in 4 chance of winning a car.
INCOME TAX: Player gets another roll or cash.
ELECTRIC COMPANY: Player gets their electric bills paid off for a year.
WATER WORKS: Player gets a water-based prize, chosen at random by the player.
LUXURY TAX: Either half or ALL of the bank and prizes are taken away, chosen at random by the player.
CHANCE/COMMUNITY CHEST: Player picks one of four cards. On the first three sides, they all have amounts to add to the bank. On the fourth, one card says "ADVANCE TO GO" and one says "GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL".

Rolling doubles gives the player an extra roll. If the player lands on the "GO TO JAIL" space, draws a "GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL" card or rolls three doubles in a row, all the cash and prizes are taken back and the game ends. During the second season, several spaces were changed where the player could lose a roll (though only once during the game). If the player does not get to GO after five rolls, they still keep all the prizes and split the money in the bank 50/50 with the rest of their section. If the player passes GO, they and the section split $200,000. If the player lands EXACTLY on GO - either through a roll or choosing an "ADVANCE TO GO" card - the player wins $1,000,000 while the section splits either $200,000 or $300,000, set before the game starts.

I absolutely LOVED the set. The floor was digital so that it could be any game chosen during the (half) hour and the Monopoly board for the bonus game. Can you imagine if "The Price Is Right" did this? Well,...I mean, it would lose some of the charm it's built over the last 45 years but...can't say it wouldn't make for a smaller and more efficient set, right?

At first I thought, "'Mike' as a game show host? I dunno..." But, when I watched him, I could tell he had it in him. He knew the games and could explain them better than Drew Carey ever did on HIS show. He was friendly to the contestants and seemed genuinely attached to them and how well they did. He was an "everyman" actor who turned that into a great hosting job. Here's hoping he gets to do it again someday.

Unlike the original game show, they kept the "Monopoly" font for nearly everything. Yeah, it's a small thing...but it's those little touches that can make or break a game, especially in syndication.

I'm not complaining too much about the NUMBER of games; that would make me a hypocrite for watching TPIR for over four decades. But this show was like watching TPIR with only "Stack the Deck", "Rat Race", "Pathfinder" and others of the most complicated games around. It's almost like they were trying to shoehorn as many Monopoly references and they just didn't know when to stop putting rules in. I mean, even TPIR has games that were simple 1-in-6 chances or so. But, since each game is for 100 large, I guess they had to make it hard to get.

While I appreciated them changing things up when they were forced to trim the runtime in half, that just made winning the million that much more difficult. I don't think anyone won the "mil" during that season.

This show was SUIPPOSED to be on GSN...but it was sent into syndication at the last minute. Why, we may never know. It may not have been a bad idea (who KNOWS if they would've had a second season if it WAS on GSN), but the fact that either GSN rejected it or the creators thought it was too good for GSN kinda frowns on it in the overall picture, right?


I sort of knew the show's days were numbered when it turned into a half-hour show. Despite my complaints, I did like the show and wanted it to continue. But the lottery game that got its contestants sold poorly. And, no contestants means no show. Sooner or later, people are gonna get tired of the idea of being stranded on an island with other people and "Survivor" will end. Still, for a TPIR-clone, I'd like to see it again. Maybe GSN will revive it PROPERLY this time?.

NEXT TIME: Turning your game show knees to

Chris Wolvie, seriously, has the idea for a RISK-based game show written down; CONTACT him, GSN! Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at