Saturday, September 08, 2007

Going once … Going twice … No sale?

First look: Temptation

Someone in a forum I frequent said Temptation (The New Sale of the Century) should be the Battlestar Galactica of game shows, and that really sums it up perfectly. The Australian version is, in fact, worthy of such praise. The U.S. Temptation that was previewed Wednesday night on MyNetworkTV is decidedly not, although the seeds of a solid remake of Sale are certainly there.

Here's a look at some ups and downs based on these two "celebrity" episodes (the alleged celebrities were former American Idol Karaoke contestants):

GOOD: The set, largely in the style of the Australian show, is modern without mimicking Millionaire for the billionth time. A dominant color other than black on a new game show? Wow!

GOOD: It's actually using the original shopping format, in which a contestant's score goes into the bank toward the purchase of fabulous prizes (we know a Jaguar (!) is available for $941). It always created such drama on '80s Sale when Jim Perry would declare, "Alice needs to win today, and she needs to win with $82 to take all the prizes we've got plus that cash jackpot of $86,000!"

BAD: There doesn't seem to be a cash jackpot or a chance to play for all the prizes. Drama killer!

BAD: The theme music is an absolute abomination and an insult to a classic format.

BAD: The classic buzzer sound from NBC and Aussie Sale, still used on Aussie Temptation, is gone.

BAD: The co-hostess has always added charm to Sale as she introduces the contestants and instant bargains, and here we have none.

BAD: The show has done away with straightforward questions, forcing everything into a "round." The result is a series of mini-games: Speed round, instant bargain, knock-off, speed round, instant bargain, etc. It feels completely awkward and against the grain of Sale.

GOOD: Host Rossi Morreale showed salesmanship potential on the instant bargains, when the player in the lead has a chance to purchase, for example, a $1,400 television for $13 off her score.

BAD: Giving the player a five-second countdown to decide on the purchase of Instant Bargains is just wrong. Jim Perry's salesmanship made the show on the instant bargains. "Going once, going twice, no … What if I add another $500?" Having a shot clock shut outs out the fun and drama of the haggling.

BAD: The Fame Game has been turned into hangman with a series of clues and a flat addition to the score for a correct answer. Wrong! Getting rid of the pick of the board, where a player could hit $10, $15, $25 or an assortment of kitchen utensils, is a misstep on par with the theme music.

BAD: The game-ending speed round has been slashed to a slight 30 seconds; it has been 60 on all previous versions of this format. Sixty seconds allows a lot of questions and possible comebacks; 30 seconds is barely time to get going.

Temptation debuts Monday in daily syndication (check local listings). It's too early to declare this a disaster, but it's rather hard to stomach when compared to Aussie Temptation's excellence.

// More here on Temptation and Sale of the Century //

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