Sunday, August 06, 2006

TV: Chain Reaction and Starface

• With dodgeball out of its system, GSN finally offers some new quizzers.

Genre: Game show
Logistics: Tuesday through Saturday, 8 and 8:30 p.m. (Central)
Verdict: Chain Reaction && Starface &&

GSN takes a welcome step back to game shows with its two new originals, particularly Chain Reaction, which was developed by Michael Davies of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire fame. Despite good production values, however, the results are fairly disappointing. In the case of Chain Reaction, a word game remake in which contestants in teams of three (men vs. women) must complete a chain of related words with first letters shown as clues, there is the same affliction that hamstrings Lingo: the current obsession with forcing game shows to have completely self-contained episodes in which nothing carries over from today to tomorrow. By playing a predetermined amount of game rather than to a score or objective, the producers create situations in which the losing team can't catch up, resulting in anti-climactic game play that says, "Change the channel." Furthermore, seven years after the premiere of Millionaire, why does every set still have to look like a clone of that show? Enough already. Chain Reaction is a solid format that doesn't get the treatment it deserves here. It would be an obvious partner to GSN's successful word game Lingo, but it's instead paired with Starface, a celebrity/pop culture trivia quiz that has generated some ink because Danny Bonaduce hosts it. Starface tries admirably, but it's ultimately as one-dimensional as the celeb photos that continually pop up on the screen to establish categories.

// Factoid // The current incarnation of Chain Reaction is the third, following runs on NBC (1980) with host Bill Cullen and USA (1986-1991) with host Geoff Edwards. Though short-lived, the 1980 version, which teamed celebrities with civilians, was quite good.


Patrick said...

Hi, Jeb!

You make an excellent point about the self-contained factor. I'd certainly prefer carry-over contestants that you can get to know and even care enough about to root for than the constant stream of new faces: they make the contestants little more than props.

"The Price is Right," which is a different assortment of pricing games as well as contestants, is about the only show currently that the non-carry-over policy really seems to work well on.

It makes it a lot easier for GSN since they don't have to worry about scheduling reruns in any particular order, but it definitely hurts game play.

Jebb said...

Definitely agreed. Game show producers are missing a big chance to get people involved with returning champions.

Jenna Wilkins said...

I love when they turn game shows into games you can actually play (like finding Wheel of Fortune in the casino!). GSN turned two of their game shows into online games. Here’s the link if you want to play