Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Deal or No Deal
Deal or No Deal is the first hit primetime network game show since the heyday of Regis and the one-time ratings juggernaut that was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Deal or No Deal (an international success with versions in a couple of dozen other countries) is proudly simple (no questions…trivial or otherwise…other than the titular one), repetitive, shamelessly giddy (the contestants dance, yell, jump, and mug for the camera like they were all in the throes of the biggest sugar rushes you could ever imagine), and strangely addictive.
Howie Mandell, free from the manic silliness that used to punctuate his standup comedy act, is an engaging master of ceremonies who seems to really enjoy his interaction with the would-be “millionaires” who join him on stage.
The game itself is simple…there are 26 briefcases each representing an amount of money from one cent up to one million dollars (the models carrying and opening the cases, each outfitted in identical outfits, are pure window dressing), the contestant chooses one for themselves and then the other cases are opened with breaks in the action during which the mysterious “Banker” tries to tempt the player into quitting by offering sums of money to sell back the chosen case. If the contestant doesn't sell back the case, the amount of money in their case is theirs. A small group of friends and family members are brought onstage to yell and scream and dance and prod the contestant with giddy advice. Not much more to it than that.
As of this writing, nobody has won a million dollars but everybody seems to be having a grand time. NBC is trying to avoid the Millionaire overkill by scheduling the show just twice a week…on Mondays and Fridays…and so far it’s working. It will quickly get old…this sort of show has a short shelf life…but for now it’s entertaining enough (and it doesn’t take itself anymore seriously than that which is cool.)