NEW GAME SHOWS
by Brick Walters, 1/14/00
Dc: This is DCR, a news program that is Not to be Believed!
With the success of the TV quiz shows "Greed" and "Do
You Want To be A Millionaire," TV producers and networks are jumping
on the quiz show bandwagon and suddenly there's a wealth of new programs.
But some of the latest offerings are directed at very specific demographics.
Brick Walters reports.
Brick: Terry Lizardo is an executive at the Silver Weasel Network, and
principally responsible for her network's decision to add game shows.
Lizardo: It's simple. People love game shows.
Brick: Simple? One year ago, everyone in your industry thought people
hated game shows.
Lizardo: Correct. But that was before the Millionaire show.
Brick: So has anything changed, or were you just wrong?
Lizardo: Let's say we're more sophisticated now.
Brick: But in fact Lizardo and her ilk aren't more sophisticated. They
are keeping with a long standing tv tradition ... slavishly copying
A look at the list of new game shows introduced at midseason leaves
one breathless! There's "21," "It'll Come to Me,"
"Top of My Head!," "Winning Lines," "Cents
For No Sense," "Yes, I'm Sure! and "Stump the Crusher."
All going for the same audience ... or are they? Trey Phillips is a
game show producer.
Trey: A lot of game shows are built to celebrate smart people, and that's
great. But most people aren't smart people, and if you're not smart,
seeing a bunch of smart people on TV is kind of irritating. You can
watch "Washington Week in Review" if you want that. What you
really want to see are people more like you.
So this new wave of game shows are designed to draw contestants and
audiences of all types. Forgetful people. Slobs. Dummies. Arrogant know
it alls. You know, ordinary heavy TV viewers.
Brick: One such show is targeted at folks in their forties who are taking
longer than ever before to come up with a simple name, fact, or declarative
sentence. It's called ... "It'll Come To Me."
Host Ray Call quizzes middle aged baby boomers about a wide range of
triva. It's fast paced ... AND ... sometimes wild because any question
that goes unanswered remains on the floor. Permanently.
Ray: Okay, contestants, here's our next question.
Ray: What British Invasion band had their first big hit with the song,
Don: Oh, I know that. Um ... gol!
Ray: Anyone else?
Ray: Jim? Can you name that band?
Jim: No, but I did remember the answer to the last question yesterday.
Was it Nelson Rockefeller?
(sfx: correct bell)
Ray: That is correct. The answer to yesterday's closing question, "What
politician did Richard Nixon send on a goodwill mission to Central and
South America?" was Nelson Rockefeller. Jim, you're in the lead.
Martha and Don, you can still catch up. Next question ... We're looking
for the name of the actor who played "Gilligan" on "Gilligan's
Martha: Isaac Stern! It's Isaac Stern!
(sfx: "wrong" buzzer)
Ray: I'm sorry, Martha, Isaac Stern did not play "Gilligan."
Martha: No, no, that's not the question. I just remembered a question
you asked last week: "Who played the violin solos on the soundtrack
for 'Fiddler On The Roof.'" It was Isaac Stern!
Ray: That's correct! Now, for five hundred dollars, can you ...
... yes, Don with the quick buzzer!
Don: I found my car keys!
They were in my pocket all the time! Ha!
Brick: Sometimes an hour of "It'll Come To Me" goes by and
no one has answered a single question that was asked that night. But
not all the new shows are aimed at the frazzled and forgetful middle
agers. There's the whole borderline psychopath "Jerry Springer"
audience, which producers and networks would like to drag into prime
time, with shows like "Stump the Crusher."
The host of the show, Carl "Crusher" Hanshaw, is an ex-pro
wrestling bad boy who barks the questions at his belligerent contestants.
In a bonus round the winning contestant can try to stump the host, and
by doing so, send him into a violent rage. But sometimes it doesn't
take that long.
Crusher: Ok, Stella. Time to Play Stump the Crusher. Here's your first
question for $100! Where's the equator? A) Around the middle of the
earth. B) Halfway between the earth and the moon. C) In Australia. Or
D) Up yours.
Stella: What kinda question is that?
Crusher: It's what you get. Answer it or get out.
Stella: How am I supposed to answer that. I didn't pay attention in
Crusher: Where's the equator? A) Around the middle of the earth. B)
Halfway between the earth and the moon. C) Australia. Or D) ...
Stella: I'll say D, Crusher. Up yours!
Crusher: Is that your answer, your final answer? Up yours?
Stella: Well up yours too!
Crusher: Is it "up yours?"
Stella: It ain't up mine, but it's gonna be up yours, you no good ...
Crusher: Is that your answer? Your answer is "D?"
Stella: Yeah, you moron! D as in "duh."
Crusher: Well look who's a moron. The correct answer is A, the equator
is "around the middle of the earth."
(music: loser music)
Stella: It is not! It's up yours, you jerk!
Crusher: You want a piece of me? Come on!
(sfx: crashing ... fade)
Brick: The producers of "Stump the Crusher" say their set
has to be rebuilt a minimum of three times per episode, but they claim
to screen their contestants for violent tendencies and they say they
Producer Trey Phillips expects these narrowly targeted game shows will
eat into the audience for those with a more general appeal.
Trey: This is the process. There's a ratings success. You copy it and
throw it at the public until they can't stand it anymore, and then you
wait for the next big idea to come along so you can kill that one too.
Next fall it might be historical family dramas. Or swimsuit model detectives
It's our business and we love it.
Brick: Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home