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Can I Have A Little Game With My Show, Please? - June 9

Way back in December, Chico Alexander and myself were discussing the pros vs. cons of Deal or No Deal. Going back to said column, one of my biggest gripes was the following -

Pacing. Slow, slooooowwww, slooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww....Both contestants got through the game in around 50 minutes. It should not take 50 minutes for a player to open up 26 suitcases - especially since it only takes around 15 minutes for the person to go through five rounds. That's 20 cases opened, leaving 35 minutes to open up the remaining six. Any game show works the best when it moves, and when we are down to six cases, the game moves at the speed of molasses. I'm sure that they want to ratchet up the tension, but you can't ratchet up anything if your audience falls asleep. When a new person shows up, I can change the channel and come back in 40 minutes, because after 40 minutes, either a) we are at that moment when we should really care or 2) the person took the deal, which means that they were incredibly unlucky and got stuck at an amount that the audience isn't really going to care much about, anyway.

It seemed like the producers listened to my gripe...for a while. The shows did move a little quicker, as the average contestant hangs out with Howie for around 40 minutes. It could have been condensed to a half an hour, but the pacing hasn't been brutal.

Interspersed between these episodes were 60 minute stand-alone pieces. Each show features only one contestant, but the show came with enough filler to stuff a Thanksgiving turkey. I can understand why you would want to have only one contestant on the show, but it further dragged out an already dragging show. Because of the gimmicks (a rodeo clown getting married, a Russian woman with a list that goes 3 cases too far, etc.), it was tolerable...barely.
Then came the 90 minute season finale extravaganza.

We do get Celine Dion singing two vocal performances...lasting for around 2 minutes. The contestant, on the other hand, gets twice as much singing air time. We also get a cute clip of previous contestant Thorpe Schoenle cashing his check for $400,000+ and another montage of the Deal or No Deal models.

The rest of the 70 minutes worth of program? An opportunity to milk out every last advertising revenue dollar by stretching that drama. I did like the fact that Celine was there for the whole time (vs. other silly guest cameos), but it also gave the producers enough to stretch that 90 minute show wider than a set of spandex pants at an 80's reunion concert.

Keep in mind that the only gameplay of this show is the opening of 26 cases. This should take around 30 minutes, and probably less than that with precise editing. There's no way that this should take 45 minutes, let alone double that time. The ratings have shown that the audience would probably sit through 3 hours of a show with only one contestant - but it doesn't mean that the networks should make us sit through it.

It would have been bad enough if the problem was limited to DOND, but we got a double dose of it with Game Show Marathon. The idea of GSM is for celebrities to play versions of America's favorite games. Part of the problem is that there needs to be a way to stretch a 30 minute show format into a 60 minute show. They did a very good job with Let's Make a Deal - maybe even too good, because they edited out all of Kathy Najimy's segment (to be fair to Kathy, she got zonked, so her appearance wouldn't have affected the show, but it would have
been nice to at least mention that she did participate).

The segments on Beat the Clock were timed out decently, but with only 7 minutes worth of live stunts, you had to have filler. Wednesday's said filler included approximately 10 minutes worth of taped highlights of the original show and a 5 minute montage of the awarding of the Price is Right prize package from...Todd Newton?!? Though I am wondering why Todd isn't in a more prominent role in the series, the show in itself, albeit, stuffed, was managed decently, time-wise.

On the other hand, The Price is Right segment was brutal. I covered it all in last week's State of Play, but even after the introduction of the show, you could have eliminated the bid segment completely and still had enough time for all 6 celebrities to play a pricing game, with the Top 2 winners advancing to the Showcases (which was done in the 30 minute syndicated version of the show).

I am sure that NBC is making money hand over fist with a 'Supersized' edition of DOND, but when does supersized turn into stupor-sized? And at what cost does running a show with tons of fluff and no substance mean when you start losing audience to ennui? When I want to see a Game Show Marathon, I expect a marathon of game shows, not a marathon of sifting through unnecessary junk to get to the game show. Unfortunately, the only marathon that I have been enduring for the past week is trying to stay awake to see what I'm actually tuning in for.

Gordon Pepper thinks that his and Joe's version of the Game Show Marathon at Congress is still the standard. E-mail him at

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