Trying to Chip Away At Prime
AIR DATES: May 20, 2015 to June 1, 2016
CREATOR: Rocket Science Laboratories, LLC
PACKAGER: BermanBraun/Single Shot Productions
HOST: Mike Greenberg
WATCH IT HERE: YouTube
(clip only; cannot find full ep)
The show was plugged as "Millionaire"
meets "World Series of Poker". Interesting concept but...they
DO know that those who play in the WSoP have a chance to BECOME millionaires,
right? But I guess what they mean is that strategy and working against
your opponent mean just as much, if not more, than getting the answer
right. And, for the first six-show "tournament", "Duel"
looked like a very interesting take on million-dollar game shows.
Two people being asked the same multiple-choice question and then
placing chips on what they think is the right answer until one person
doesn't cover the right answer and loses. But when they tried to make
it a weekly deal, they changed the rules around that, let's face it,
made things a bit more unwatchable (especially with "Price Is
Right $1,000,000 Spectacular" running against it).
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
SEASON 1 (THE TOURNAMENT)
A "contestant pool" of ten players stay through the entire
run. Two are selected at random to start and, after each Duel, the
winner picks which of three randomly-picked members of the "pool"
to face next.
The two Duelists each get ten poker-esque chips worth $5000 apiece
A screen is raised between them and the host gives a multiple choice
question with four possible answers. The Duelists then place a chip
on what they think is the right answer. If unsure, they can put chips
on mulitple answers. Once they "lock-in" their choice(s),
though, they cannot change them. Once both Duelists are locked, the
screen is dropped so they can see the others' answers and the correct
answer is revealed.
If both Duelists have a chip on the right answer, the Duel continues
and any on WRONG answers are removed from play (the Duelist gets the
one on the right answer back). For each chip removed from play, $5000
is added to a growing jackpot. The screen is raised again and another
question is asked.
If one Duelist has a chip on a right answer and the other does not,
the Duel ends and the one with the right answer is the winner and
keeps money based on how many chips they have left. They then get
to choose the next opponent. If the loser has accumulated enough money
to be in the top four, they stay around for the finals or until their
amount is superceded by another loser.
If both Duelists FAIL to have a chip on the right answer, all the
chips are taken away and a sudden death "shootout" takes
place. Each is given four chips and gets asked one more question.
The Duelist who answers the question right using the least number
of chips wins.
During each Duel, the Duelists are given two "Press"es.
There is normally no time limit for answering the questions but, after
locking-in, a Duelist can hit a "Press" button, giving the
other Duelist only seven seconds to put chips on the board before
being automatically locked-in. As the host stated a few times, this
usually occurs when the Press-er a) knows the answer right away or
b) puts chips on all the answers.
After five days of Duels, the top four money-winners compete in a
single-elimination tournament for the jackpot (which keeps growing,
by the way). The top winner chooses who to face in the first semi,
leaving the other two to compete in the second. The winners of those
go to the Final Duel with the winner collecting the Jackpot..
SEASON 2 (THE WEEKLY SHOW)
Two Duelists begin, then the winner chooses between three possible
challengers. Each Duelist only gets ONE "Press" per Duel
and the winner receives money based on how LONG each Duel lasts, from
$1000 for winning on the first question up to $50,000 for winning
on the tenth question. After the tenth question, if both Duelists
are still in it, "shootout" rules prevail until someone
gets the $50,000.
After each Duel, the winner - aka Champion - gets one "MAX"
chip and one more question. If they get it right, the winnings for
that Duel double (up to $100,000). The Champion then has the option
of leaving with the money or risking it on another Duel. If a Champion
keeps risking but loses their second or third Duel, they forfeit everything.
If they lose on their fourth or fifth Duel, they leave with half their
winnings. Winning five Duel in a row augments the amount to $500,000
and the Champion retires. Whether the Champion quits or retires, two
new Duelists start the next Duel.
Kinda like "500 Questions", the set had that modern-day
gladitorial look about it. I wouldn't be surprised if they just took
the "Million Dollar Password" set and re-tooled it. Still
works, though, for the asthetic.
When they said the show was like WSoP, they weren't kidding. Half
the fun of watching WSoP is seeing what everyone in the hand has and
wondering what the current bettor will do. Here, we see where both
contestants place their chips and, if we know the answer ourselves,
we wonder if the Duelists know they got it right/wrong. And the "Press"
is a lot like "calling the clock" in poker, forcing the
other player to make a decision or lose.
Other than that, the "Million Second Quiz" format of the
first season was servicable. And a jackpot based on wrong answers
REALLY made the finals more exciting.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
I'm not sure just how exciting Mike Greenberg was on ESPN Radio's
"Mike & Mike in the Morning" or doing highlights on
"SportsCenter"...but he really didn't do it for me as a
game show host. Sure he kept the game going as best he could but a
more veteran host probably would've been better. Just being on "ESPN's
2-Minute Drill" does not a game show host make (says the man
who really wants to take over either "Jeopardy!" and/or
"Price Is Right")!
While the show was interesting during the tournament season, the second
season's change of rules lessened it (as it ALWAYS seems to do when
you change rules mid-series). And the fact that you didn't win the
money you just Dueled for made it ridiculous. Furthermore, in the
first season, you REALLY wanted a Duel to end ASAP so you could keep
more money based on chips. Now you had to hope your opponent wasn't
quite as thick so the Duel could continue long enough to make real
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Were I given the option to re-tool the tourney to a weekly,
I'd've kept the chips' monetary amount, kept the "jackpot"
and have the winner play the "MAX" game FOR the jackpot.
I think it would've made for a more interesting show...AND the Champs
could stay on as long as they kept winning. Keep the weekly format
closer to the tourney format and it could last. Well,...that and not
being on Friday nights.
NEXT TIME: The actual appraised price is WHAT?!...
Chris Wolvie looks 'em in the eye, aims no higher, summons all
the courage he requires...then runs like hell! Follow him on Twitter
@ChrisWolvie and e-mail
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.