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Midnight Money Madness... Madness - September 1

Gordon: This is Gordon Pepper, and welcome to this week's State of Play. I am joined by my brothers in arms who have braved the elements to watch Midnight Money Madness this week. We start with the man who's stuck watching it and can't even win, Mr. Don Harpwood.
Don: If only they'd let Canadians play... *Sigh*
Gordon: Next up, a man who couldn't play because the web site was down. Mr. Jason Block.
Jason: (cocks shotgun and ready to fire)
Gordon: Next up, a man who couldn't play because he was too busy laughing at Omarosa, Mr. Aaron Huertas.
Aaron: Plinko boy would love to dance with Omarosa.
Gordon: Finally, a man who couldn't play because...well, why didn't you play, Joe Mello?
Joe: Because the TV's in another room. And was often being used by PS2 gamers.
Gordon: Well, that's good enough reason as any. So now it's time to evaluate MMM, starting with...The Good.
Aaron: I liked that there were 2 hosts that kept the game going. There were a variety of different games, and that the games are fast paced
Joe: There were also nice stakes (albeit sometimes a little too high) and the celebs are at least moderately recognizable.
Jason: And the energy level is really high!
Gordon: I liked the fact that the celebrities came to play the game.
Joe: And that didn't stop them from being fun, which is also good
Jason: Phyllis Diller still rules.
Joe: Phyllis Diller > j00
Gordon: Even Omarosa was fun
Don: Yeah, it was nice that she played along with the whole "You're fired!" bit.
Gordon: The Wheel of Money at the end was also a nice touch
Jason: And I did like the variety of games.
Joe: The Wheel provides an adequate bonus round structure which Text2Win really didn't have
Gordon: The variety was nice. They did have unscramble stuff and fill in stuff like Playmania, but they also had visual games and they changes up the presentations
Don: I haven't had a chance to see how the wheel segment worked, since I've had to go to bed before the end lately.
Joe: Essentially, you get paid for paying attention
Jason: Basically they ask a nightcap question where they give the winner $400...and the wheel is spun for a max of $2500
Don: Cool.
Joe: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the question is typically related to the night's activities
Jason: Yes it is. Like last night "firing gimmick"
Joe: The celeb also plays some quickie games to raise the payout of the query to said $400
Joe: I believe it starts at $200 and goes up $100 for every correct solve.
Gordon: It does. So there were some very nice things about the show. Now lets go to some of the things we didn't like about the show.
Aaron: They were making a lot of mistakes, especially from the technical end. The sounds were off.
Joe: There's still an unbalance in the difficulty level of the games, and there's no reason for me to believe that the celebs aren't a premiere week stunt.
Gordon: I would also think that the commercials are ill-placed. I understand why you do it (for the people to have as much time as possible to call in), but it makes the game play choppy.
Jason: Would you consider the clues bad or ugly?
Joe: I consider them bad, right with some of the contestants
Gordon: The clues are bad. Name a Madonna song. You only have a few hundred to choose from.
Don: Compare that with some word unscrambles, such as... WSHO ME HET ONEYM
Gordon: Or name a famous queen, and the answers include RuPaul and Dairy Queen
Joe: Those are dumb survey groups
Jason: The same problem PlayMania has.
Gordon: Ive never heard them say where the surveys are actually from. For all we know, it could be from the 'Committee to put up stupid answers so it takes people a while to guess' committee.
Don: Did MMM even mention that those were from surveys? Because I don't recall them saying that...
Jason: No they never said.
Joe: I think PM says they take theirs from people off the street in SoCal
Gordon: There's another bad part - the timing. You have people call in, and then you have the person selected abruptly stop while the hosts are telling you to call in. As for those contestants...ugh.
Jason: If you are going to call in, then PAY ATTENTION to what's going on so you don't repeat an answer.
Gordon: Now for the Ugly Part....Jay?
Jason: The web site had MAJOR TECHNICAL PROBLEMS on Wed/Thur., and the call backs were teases.
Joe: Can I contribute something on the technical problems?
Jason: Sure.
Joe: I'm a member of the Invision Boards, so it caught my eye when one of the members said that the TBS forums were going essentially bat(^_^) over the website problems. One of the TBS people actually said something that the Invisioner (Chad) quoted and may have credence. "The website [for online entry] was NOT working last night. If you viewed the page as SOURCE and know anything about HTML the Submit button did not have a TRUE value associated to it so it
did NOTHING." "The only way to get the damned thing to work was to hit ENTER not submit. And was this brought up on the show? I think not..."This should have been made aware on the show to everyone... And it is considered gambling if there is no way to play for free so I can understand how many viewers saw this as fraudulent."
Don: Well, on the show, they did emphasize the phone and text methods more than the Internet method.
Joe: The "viewers", according to Chad, were apparently calling and mailing the FCC and FTC
Jason: And about the 2nd hour they started to mention the web page. Although they can technically say that they were showing the webpage on the graphics.
Gordon: I'm not sure if it was done on purpose, but the fact that they did not even mention the website meant that either 1. They knew about the problem and didn't want to mention it or 2. They didn't know about the problem but decided to steer them away. Either way, it's a sign of bad will.
Jason: Endemol SHOULD know better.
Joe: Now I trust the word of a TV network's message board about as far as I can throw it, but if there's reason to believe that this was done on purpose, isn't that slightly illegal?
Don: There's something else that I find interesting. When they had phone problems on Tuesday, they didn't play any games, and showed an episode of Bloopers until the problem was fixed. When they had online problems on Wednesday, they went on like nothing happened. What does that tell you?
Joe: The left hand knows not what the right hand is doing?
Jason: Bingo.
Joe: I think something else which isn't directly related to MMM should be brought up as well. Don't forget that Great Britain is currently investigating such shows to see if they are actually lottery programs. I don't know what the laws are here, and I don't know about you, but if I were a state lottery commissioner, I would be a little peeved if some network decided to start their
own little game.
Gordon: But honestly, isn't this a lottery? Not to mention that unlike Playmania, MMM does not have a limit as to how many times you can call in. Its no longer based on knowledge or skill. You are paying a buck to have a chance to be put into a pool to give a correct answer. That sound like the lottery to me.
Don: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Jason: And we have My Network doing something like this in December. Twentieth Television will introduce a live program, My Games Fever, to all Fox owned-and-operated MyNetworkTV stations in December. Inspired by the UK genre of participation television, My Games Fever will consist of a multiple games format presented commercial free that will include text messaging and online interaction. Further distribution is targeted for early 2007.
Gordon: This doesn't sound anything like Playmania, Text2win or Midnight Money Madness, does it?
Jason: Sure it does, Captain Obvious ;)
Gordon: You think? Seriously, how many clones will there be until the market is oversaturated?
Jason: Until they stop making serious coin. BTW...Thanks to Marc Berman and the Programming Insider for that note.
Joe: So the question becomes how long do you think this will last before the government says "HOLD IT!" The more money they make, the more people will stand up and say that something's rotten in the State of.....Play. And since you can't outlaw the cell phone, you have to outlaw the game.
Gordon: I don't think you should outlaw the game as much as regulate it. In addition, I think that the games need to be changes so that skill is involved in determining the winner - or something besides Random Draw.
Joe: Or treat it like any other lottery and you have to turn over most of your revenue to X, Y, and Z government organization.
Jason: Or get a sponsor and get the 800 number. Like Disney did with Millionaire. Then it could be better.
Gordon: There's a big difference. Millionaires phone in contest was free.
Joe: Something like the DoND Lucky Case game is probably fine because it has nothing to do with the important part or the game, but yeah, what happens in Great Britain could open up a can of worms in the States.
Gordon: it sure could - especially if people have already opened a can of whoopass on MMM for all of the technical glitches,
Jason: They have.
Joe: And claiming that TBS is scamming and all sorts of other illegal procedures
Gordon: As this is being written up before Thursday's broadcast, It will be very interesting to see how they handle it tonight.
Joe: While nothing could compare to the Quiz Show Scandals, the way the media covers stories nowadays gives this the potential to make the scope of the Quiz Scandals look like a speeding ticket compared to what may come.
Joe: I mean, you could argue that GSN invented a new form of gambling.
Jason: You could. But I don't see that yet
Joe: Yeah, that's probably an extremist point of view, but that doesn't mean there isn't another Jack Thompson somewhere waiting to pounce and try and bring game shows down
Jason: I understand. But if they fix it, it won't be that bad.
Gordon: Yes, but it doesn't look like they are going to fix it, and it could get sticky. Final thoughts - how do you grade the show?
Jason: C. Like the energy, hate the technical glitches
Joe: I'll give it a C as well
Aaron: I give it a B-. They could do better.
Don: Well, aside from the technical difficulties that it had, I actually liked this better than Playmania. It could still use some tweaking, but still... C+
Gordon: I have to give it a C. I don't like any show that don't give you a legitimate shot when you call in. I think it's the best in terms of overall presentation, but calling in to try to get into the pool should not be a game
Joe: So I guess that averages to about a C/C+
Gordon: Yep. Any final comments?
Jason: Good potential...and get the kinks out and you may have a winner.
Aaron: I agree with Jason. It has the potential to be good if they make the improvements.
Joe: I think the best any of these shows can hope for is to be pretty okay. It's good mindless entertainment, but that's the problem--it's mindless
Gordon: The problem is that its not only mindless, it's dangerous. I'm hoping that this does get regulated.
Don: They should definitely make sure the problems they had with the online method last night don't happen again.
Gordon: Exactly
Jason: We want these to succeed...we just want them done better.
Gordon: I think that's what everyone is thinking. And that ends this week's State of Play. A special thanks to Jason Block, Don Harpwood, Joe Mello and Aaron Huertas for joining us today.

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