Wednesday, October 04, 2006

TV: That's the Question

• GSN adds another word game to its stable of originals.

Genre: Game show
Logistics: GSN, 5 p.m. (Central) weekdays
Verdict: &&&1/2

GSN's fourth (!) game show launched since April could give enduring hit Lingo a run in the addictive word game category. Despite some obvious similarities to Wheel of Fortune (the hangman concept) and Jeopardy! (contestants guess the question), this imported format never feels derivative. Here's how it works: While presented with a series of trivia questions — mostly pop culture and history — contestants are shown the scrambled answers, each of which contains an extra letter. That extra letter is then revealed in a question displayed hangman-style onscreen. For example, if the extra letter is "E," all of the E's in the question are revealed. Contestants get points as they answer the rapid-fire questions that reveal letters and bonus points for solving the onscreen question. In the first round, the answer to the question is revealed; in the second round, they have to determine both the question and its answer. While it sounds a tad confusing, That's the Question is easy to pick up and play along. I like that if forces contestants to think on multiple layers: They've got to be quick on their feet to answer the rapid-fire trivia to maintain control and reveal letters while, at the same time, trying to determine the question. Unlike on GSN's new train wreck Chain Reaction, the games this week have been highly competitive with the outcome often coming down to the wire. That's a good sign for a game that is played within a set time allotment rather than to a specific goal. The $5,000 bonus round is essentially more of the same, with the winner's score (e.g., 107) converted into seconds to answer trivia and reveal letters in a question. The contestant must also come up with the "final answer." The show misses a chance to get viewers involved by eschewing returning champions, but it has a nice set design with a lot of yellow and green on a giant "Q" — a nice change of pace from the still-pervasive dark Millionaire look that was tired six years ago. Host Bob Goen, the Entertainment Tonight vet, is smooth and affable — an excellent fit for the show, which is GSN's best effort since I've Got a Secret. Will the audience follow? That's the … well, you know.

// Incidentally // Bob Goen hosted the last couple of years of daytime Wheel of Fortune, which ended in 1991.

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