Wednesday, November 15, 2006

TV: Show Me the Money

• Oh, my.

Genre: Game show
Logistics: ABC, 7 p.m. (Central) Wednesdays, if it hasn't been cancelled yet.
Host: Captain William T. Kirk, aka William Shatner
Verdict: &1/2

It would be tempting to call this a shameless rip-off of Deal or no Deal if it weren't a product of the same production company, Endemol. Still, it feels like a rip-off in which the hot models break into impromptu salsa sessions rather than toting metallic suitcases. In this ill-conceived quiz-dance hybrid (which conveniently followed Dancing with the Stars for Tuesday's awfully long 90-minute preview), the models hold scrolls instead of suitcases. Contestants must amass six correct questions to win the loot; after each question, the contestant chooses a model, and the amount on her scroll determines the amount added to or deducted from the player's total, which can (but probably never will) exceed $1 million. Aside from the general cheesiness of the whole affair, a major criticism lobbed at Show Me the Money is the easiness of the questions. I'll agree that six right answers seems slight for a big wad of loot, but the questions aren't all easy: The debut expected a contestant to name the group that performed the fairly obscure 1994 song "Fade Into You," which reached number 44 on the Hot 100 for Mazzy Star, a group that never charted in the top 40. That's a $1 million level question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, folks. As for Shatner, he does his level best and only breaks out the dramatic delivery (Khan! What … is … the meaning … of this!) on the occasional reading of a question. The overly calculated contestant selections — military hero, stereotypical gay man — only reinforce the general aura of phoniness. It's a safe bet this will quickly exit, and it's a shame a copycat effort like this makes it to air rather than a smart, proven format such as Temptation ($ale of the Century), which begs for a new U.S. version. Between this and FOX's The Rich List, the damage may already be done to the current game show resurgence and the prospect for more new primetime shows.

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