Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Things to know about Temptation

New versions of old stuff often stink. With that in mind, Jeblog presents Some Things To Know About Temptation:

• It is one of two new syndicated daily game shows for the 2007-08 season that will premiere on Sept. 10. The other new show is Merv Griffin's Let's Do Crosswords — a name that suggests Griffin lost his mojo for titles after Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.

• It is based on Sale of the Century, one of the unsung workhorse formats of the game show genre — an internationally proven game that predates Wheel of Fortune. Notable runs appeared on NBC from 1983-1989 with host Jim Perry, the UK's ITV from 1971 to 1985 and Australia's 9 Network from 1980 to 2001 (that's 21 years!). The show was revamped in Australia, returning as Temptation in 2005, and continues as a hit today.

• The Sale/Temptation format is a brilliant fusion of a three-player general knowledge quizzer with frenzied consumerism. At various points in the game, the player in the lead is tempted to buy snazzy merchandise such as a brand new television for, say, $6 off his score (questions are worth five each). "Going once! Going twice! …" For each game win, a progressively larger prize is offered to the champion, who can take it and leave or risk it to come back and play for more, as well as a mounting cash jackpot at the end. The ever-rising stakes can create delicious drama.

• The first of several dubious signs for U.S. Temptation is host Rossi Morreale, a correspondent for Extra and former host of cable nuggets such as Sweat on G4 and Junkyard Mega-Wars on TLC. His demo reel just doesn't say "game show host," and some might suggest it says "himbo." I hope to be pleasantly surprised come September.

• Second dubious sign: This description of the show, which is a pitch to programmers, describes Temptation's quiz element as "funny pop culture questions." This is like saying Deal or no Deal consists of a cerebral general knowledge quiz.

• Third dubious sign: The production involves FremantleMedia, an entity that has proved it can needlessly meddle with and ruin a solid format (see Whammy).

• Australia's Temptation, hosted by the classy Ed Phillips with cohost Lavinia Nixon, is the best game show currently on television anywhere (OK, I haven't watched Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, but still). Click here to watch a couple of episodes.

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