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$1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime

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with Chris Wolvie
Everyone's Favorite Deadly Sin...Now In Game Show Form
November 15

From Los Angeles, it's the biggest game show in television history where one person in one night could walk away with (over) two million dollars! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome toÂ…

SHOW: Greed (The Series)
AIR DATES: November 4, 1999 to July 14, 2000
CREATOR: Bob Boden
PACKAGER: Dick Clark Productions
HOST: Chuck Woolery

So, after "$1MCoaL", million-dollar games were relegated to tournaments of champions or state lottery game shows. Then "Millionaire" came along and, suddenly, EVERYONE wanted to give away a seven-dollar check. But the first to the block was FOX and Dick Clark Productions. And, unlike "Millionaire" or numerous other million-dollar game shows, this one was actually "birthed" in the good ol' greedy USofA! So it's OBVIOUS that the show would be called "Greed". Problem was, I think they tried TOO hard to differentiate themselves from "Millionaire". Oh, sure, having a team of five play instead of just one is unique...and wanting to grab your teammates' shares of the pot was very interesting, but the gameplay was rather complicated...and certainly TOO complicated to warrant a syndicated remake or even a remake on GSN or Buzzr. Turns out, "Greed" is a hard thing to justify. (See what I did there?)


Six contestants are taken from the "contestant pool" and asked a question with a numerical answer. Each person inputs their answer. The closest to the right answer is the captain of the team. The four next closest take positions based on how close they are (any ties are broken by how fast they inputted the answer). The sixth contestant is sent back to the "pool" to try again. Later in the series, this was eliminated and the five team members had their positions decided via backstage draw.

The first half of the show involves all five contestants to climb the "Tower of Greed". The team member in Position #4 gets asked a multiple choice question with four possible answers. The member gives their answer, but the Captain can approve of it or overrule the member and give their own. If the answer is right, they put $25,000 in their bank. If the Captain decides to move on, they go to Position #3 for $50,000, then #2 for $75,000 (with FIVE possible answers) and finally #1 for $100,000 (also five answers). Captains could elect to quit at any time with money earned being split evenly amid the five members.

Before the fifth question, the category for the question is given and the Captain is asked if they "feel the need for greed". If the Captain continues, then a "Terminator" chooses one of the five. The chosen member can decide if they want to keep the team as is or challenge one of the other members for their share. If the member challenges, they get $10,000 for themselves, win or lose. The challenger and the challenged answer a toss-up question with whoever buzzes-in with the right answer (who whoever doesn't get it wrong) staying in the game and taking the other member's share of the bank. The loser leaves the game. If the Captain is challenged or makes the challenge and loses, the winner becomes the new Captain. This process is repeated for the sixth and seventh questions.

The next four questions have four right answers. The fifth question has six possible answers, the sixth has seven, the seventh has eight and the eighth and final question has nine. One by one, the remaining team members pick which of the possible answers is a correct one. The Captain is offered a "Freebie" which eliminates one wrong answer before any picks are made. The Captain may also change one answer before they are locked-in. The answers are revealed, one at a time, as being right or wrong. If three correct answers had been picked and revealed, the host gives the Captain as choice to either take a guaranteed amount ($20,000 for the fifth question, $50,000 for the 6th) or risk the final answer being wrong. Before the last of the SEVENTH question is revealed, the host offers the keys to a Jaguar XK-8 convertible and $25,000 to each INDIVIDUAL member to take or leave (should anyone take it, their share(s) are split amid those who leave it). If all for answers are right, the move up the "Tower"; $200,000 for the fifth question, L$500,000 for the sixth and $1 million for the seventh.

Before the final $2 million question (after the category is revealed), the host gives each individual member a choice to take their share(s) and leave or risk it to go for the top prize. Those who risk it are shown the nine possible answers and are given 30 seconds to deliberate as to which are the correct for. They are then given 10 seconds to give their answers (it was considered a loss if they didn't answer in the time allotted). They could not change any answers and they could not take another buyout. If all four answers given are right, the members split $2 million.

At ANY point a wrong answer is given, the team leaves with nothing (save for any Terminator money they won).

In the last months of the series, it was changed to "Super Greed" and the top three amounts were doubled to $1M, $2M and $4M. The buyout. after the seventh question was changed to a Jaguar and $75,000...and then changed to $150,000 cash since the first team to be given the buyout. all took the car and cash.

Obviously, FOX wanted to outdo "Millionaire" by offering more money...but they didn't want to go nuts they only chose to go to $2M (plus $50,000 for each game it wasn't won for a time). Perhaps it was for the best. And, just like "Millionaire", it was SUPER tough to reach the top of that "Tower". And that made it a great idea. Work for those millions, man!

Calling this "Team Millionaire" might be accurate but not entirely fair. When it comes down to brass tacks, the Captain was steering this vessel and it was up to them to decide if their cohorts were right or wrong. Plus the fact that the team can change on a dime (or, rather, 100,000 dimes) mixes things up. Are people willing to ditch a smart person just to earn two shares (and $10G)? And will they regret the action if they leave with nothing else? Nothing like making a social game out of avarice.

Those the music seemed ominous throughout the show, Chuck Woolery still was able to smile. He let people know, "Yeah, this is a stink-load of moolah, but that doesn't mean the players can't have a little fun, right? Or, if THEY won't, then I sure am and so should you!" His decades of hosting made him a great choice for his final network hosting gig.

Everything about the show - the set, the aforementioned music, the sound effects - made the show seem like this was life or death for anyone who plays. Again, yes, this was a lot of money up for grabs. But it was like the team couldn't relax save for a minute or two after they move up the "Tower". If I were my six-year-old self, I'd be hiding my eyes before that last answer is revealed and jump at the "nope" sound effect (again, I was the kind of kid who hid his eyes from the Devil in "Joker's Wild"). I'm a bit surprised no one had a heart attack. I get that's what they were going for but, when it's consistently tense, sooner or later people don't get tense about it any more and it just gets annoying.

Needless to say, the opening question was a waste of time. They should have just picked five people from the get-go. I'm sure they wanted a REASON that the Captain ended up there but...having a shlub there instead of someone who could've won on "The Price Is Right" doesn't really change much.


Well,...maybe. Even two million dollars make people drool sometimes. Why else are state Lottos still around in the age of Powerball and Mega-Millions? The format is fine but simplify the "buyouts" to all cash and have the team VOTE on taking it or risking it (with the Captain being a tiebreaker). And, for the love of Ben Burtt, make the music and SFX a LITTLE more cheery so that contestants don't need to have ulcers fixed.

He not only PRODUCES, he HOSTS, too!

Chris Wolvie would prefer a show called Lust...but he never subscribed to the Playboy Channel, so... Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at