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
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
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
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
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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