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 Five New TV Game Shows

Here are five nominees for best new television game show:
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - ABC. This one started the renaissance and remains the ratings leader. The lighting and music on Millionaire bring to mind a West Berlin discotheque circa 1980 (or a Wichita bowling alley circa 1997). Contestants go one-on-one with Regis Philbin, making them all wish the show followed the "You-Against-The-Host" format of Win Ben Stein’s Money. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has been analyzed as a microcosm of current American society. Things must be great for women, people of color, and non-goon white males in current American society, because apparently none of them feel the need to be a millionaire.
Greed - FOX. Uncle Rupert’s foray into the game show genre is highly derivative of ABC’s effort, with one classic FOX touch: you can screw other contestants out of their winnings. The result is part COPS, part Thunderdome, and part Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire? Of course that last one is part The Dating Game, part beauty pageant, and part America’s Most Wanted. Which leaves FOX viewers with a whole bunch of disgusting parts.
Rock And Roll Jeopardy! - VH1. VH1 is quite frugal, as creative touches like Pop-Up Video allow it to re-air the complete works of Duran Duran on the cheap. VH1’s version of Jeopardy! knows the value of a nickel as well. The show uses "points" to keep score instead of dollars, and caps any potential liability to the winner at $5,000. The parting gifts continue the economical trend. Second place receives a Sting CD, and the third place contestant gets to be personally scolded by Sting for not living a more appropriate lifestyle.
Winning Lines - CBS. If any network was poised to benefit from the latest game show craze, it was CBS. The Tiffany network’s viewers remember the last game show craze in the 1950s. (That one in the 1930s was a doozy too.) CBS even trotted out the evergreen Dick Clark, whose mere presence returns the CBS audience to nostalgic memories of his hosting The $500 Pyramid and giving out shiny new Packards. So what were the devilish details from the geniuses who revived JAG? A Byzantine game with a high-tech "Wonderwall" featuring dozens of possible answers. Cameras panned back and forth across the Wonderwall while a joystick-holding contestant shouted answers amid flashing lights. CBS viewers across the nation spat out their rock candy, put nitroglycerin tablets under their desiccated tongues, and rang for the nurse to change the channel.
Twenty One - NBC. This show is a reincarnation of the NBC game show immortalized in the movie Quiz Show. In the movie, Ralph Fiennes (pronounced "Ralph Fiennes") plays a charming contestant who is provided answers by the show’s producers. The modern show is careful to avoid any hint of a scandal by installing that bedrock of integrity Maury Povich as host. Unlike Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Twenty One interviews potential contestants beforehand to weed out some of the Herb Stempels. Next time, NBC might want to try that during the host selection process as well.

Emil Gam