One Chance in 100 - October 12
You may not know this, or maybe you do, but, eh,
apparently there's a big money game show premiering tomorrow... and apparently
it's one that we're all looking forward to.
But what are the chances of "1 vs. 100"
succeeding from a strictly numbers standpoint? After all, we've heard arguments
that suggest that it is both a) a good way to declench after a hard work week
(Variety) and that b) it's transparently lame (the Buffalo Sun). When you get
right down to it, what are the chances of it succeeding?
Well, let's look at the time slot first. Friday.
Unless you're a fan of "Numb3rs" or "Deal or No Deal" (of which we'll get to
later) or SciFi's double take of "Doctor Who" and "Battlestar Galactica", you're
usually out and about taking on one of your duties as an alpha consumer (Friday
night movies... first to buy, first to try). Not much room for a life on
television. But think about this, for the last year or so, "Deal or No Deal" was
the top performer on Friday nights at 8p.
Examples... The finale of premiere week of "Deal
or No Deal" scored a 7.4/14 in households with 11.59 million viewers (the top
performer that night, a new "Close to Home" an hour later). Last Friday saw the
show win the hour despite formidable opposition from a rerun of "Grey's Anatomy"
and CBS' "Ghost Whisperer". The latter, more so. Furthermore, the show slid a
bit to a 6.6/12 with 10.65 million viewers, only about 1 million more than
"Ghost". So yeah, Deal's still a potent Friday night watch, but it isn't the
show that Monday's show is.
For the record, that show posted a 9.8/15 in the
overnights, 15.22 million viewers strong last week. Word up.
So NBC has the time slot to succeed. But will it
have the eyes? That's all dependent on what happens this Friday.
Here's the plan. "Deal or No Deal" will start the
night, then we'll lead into "1 vs. 100." Is that a winning formula? Well,
"Celebrity Cooking Showdown" comes to mind. That said, a lead-in on this
volatile a night, with this volatile a show, is not a guarantee of success.
After all, Dateline's everlasting "To Catch a Predator" series (I think they're
on part 742 now) is only able to muster second place opposite "Close to Home",
so much of the success of "1 vs. 100" will be generated on buzz. After all, to
quote both "Field of Dreams" and "Sim City", "if you build it, they will come;
if you build it well, they will stay."
Half of the success/failure story of the American
version of "1 vs. 100" is already writ.
The Weekly Rant, or why on earth is Ken
Jennings' book in the biography aisle, while Bob Harris' book is in the humor
Thinking back to a conversation that I had with
Paul Bailey, Matt Ottinger, and Steve Beverly, the grand poobah and two of the
elder statesmen of the Game Show Congress, one thing is certain...
Game show fandom needs more young'uns like us.
It's really an interesting thing, as we are at a
generational crossroads with "Wheel" and "Jeopardy!" quickly approaching their
25th anniversaries, "Feud" coming upon its 30th, and "The Price is Right"
celebrating its 35th. It's a love that us as youths can share with people who
were there 25 or 30 or 35 years ago. After all, in those days, you were a kid,
you were home sick or a baby or whatever, and what was on the tube waiting to
entertain us? People ready to do whatever it took to win big cash and bigger
The good news is that programmers are starting to
bring'em in early.
With the success of the recent "Jeopardy!" Back
to School week, and the rise of shows like NBC's "Endurance" (now in its sixth
season), CBS's "Dance Revolution" (which, though co-produced by Konami, bears no
resemblance to its source material), and even MTV's "Yo Momma" (which is about
to hit up the Big Apple for season two), it is becoming apparent that game shows
marketed for the youth of America are beginning to become big business again.
Almost like they were big business 20 years ago, when a renaissance then
prompted niche programmers to look for a way to bring the world of the genre we
love to confused children of the 80s such as myself.
And done properly, they could foster in a
lifelong love of competition for their target audience.
Think about this. The audience that was brought
up on "Double Dare" and the shows it spun off during the late 80s - and I'm even
willing to throw in "Press Your Luck" because of its cartoonish appeal - are the
same audience watching "Deal or No Deal" and "Millionaire" and seeing something
that they relate back to their youth.
It's a comforting thought, really, because if you
look down the road in 20 years, you'll see the same argument, and us youths will
be the "elder statesmen" that are looked upon for example. So it's our duty to
make sure that the example we leave is one of quality.
That way, in 20 years, you can look to your kid
and say "Hey, you like this show? I liked it too when I was your age."
Chico Alexander, with countless spelling bees
and talent shows under his belt, believes a little healthy competition now and
then is a good thing. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.