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"Deal or No Deal", from Endemol, the folks that gave you "Fear Factor"
and "Extreme Makeover", brought this international import to the States
for a five-night run on NBC originally back in December 2005. Hosted by
Howie Mandel, the show is like a cross between "Let's Make a Deal" and
"Russian Roulette", and here's how it works: A contestant out of the
audience chooses one numbered briefcase out of 26 for their game. The
cases have cash values ranging from one cent all the way up to $1
million (and there are several six-figure prizes starting at $100,000).
All the values are posted on a large, projection-screen TV monitor in
the studio. The contestant then begins a process of elimination,
calling out the numbers of six briefcases. As each number is called, a
lovely model opens the numbered case to reveal the cash amount inside
(Mandel: "Nikki, open the case."). The cash amount is then removed from
the list of cash values on the projection monitor.
Following this, a "banker", seated in a surveillance room above the studio floor, phones the host with an "offer" - a dollar amount he is willing to make for the briefcase the contestant chose at the start of the game. Essentially, the offer is an average of all the cash amounts on the monitor that haven't been yet eliminated - the more low amounts that are eliminated, the higher the offer. The host informs the contestant of the offer - which is posted in large numerals on the projection monitor - and then, after a bit of mathematical banter, the host pops the all-important question to the contestant: "Deal or No Deal?" If the contestant accepts the Deal, he/she wins the value of the offer and the game ends. If not, the contest must open five more briefcases before the next offer is made. If the contestant passes on the Deal at that point, then he/she must open four more cases, then three more, then two more, until in the later points in the game, there is an offer issued after one briefcase is selected.
The tension increases with every round of selections because in many cases, a contestant chooses a case with a large dollar amount, eliminating the possibility of winning that prize. Also adding to the drama - the contestant has three to four other guests (loved ones or friends) on the show to help him/her decide whether or not to take a Deal, usually introduced after the second round of briefcase selections. So there is an emotional aspect to "Deal" as well, one the large studio audience gets pumped up for.
Once the contestant has accepted a Deal, the host has the contestant theoretically play out the rest of the briefcase selections ("Let's see what you would have done...") and then reveals the contents of the briefcase that the contestant chose at the start of the game.
Overall, "Deal or No Deal" offers the best odds for winning $1 million on national TV - 1 in 26. But as host Howie Mandel states at the beginning of each show, the game is a combination of "luck, guts, and a great sense of timing." Part of Mandel's opening spiel: "One million dollars as the top prize. No crazy stunts to perform, no trivia questions to answer. In fact, there's only one question you need to know how to answer, the only question that counts. Deal or No Deal?" At the time of this writing, "Deal or No Deal" was introduced by NBC as a "stripped" broadcast (same time for five consecutive weeknights), airing between 8pm and 9pm Eastern Time. The show's initial ratings for the first two nights were great news for NBC; they handily won their Monday and Tuesday time slots.
Part of the entertainment value of "Deal or No Deal" is watching the contestants agonize over whether to accept a Deal or press their luck; a knowledge (or appreciation) of probability helps a lot, and screen graphics are occasionally shown to help viewers do the numbers (Example: "Kyle has a 25% chance his case contains at least $300,000"). The exchanges between the contestants and their guests are often very funny. Host Howie Mandel, better known for his goofball stand-up comedy and appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno", is an affable host, not overpowering the show. He has "a great sense of timing" himself, and sets up cliffhangers before each commercial (sending the audience into frustrated groans of anticipation).
And for anyone that doesn't believe there's a play-along element to the show, you get caught up in the moment, screaming at the TV, "Take the deal, you bonehead!" Most NBC affiliates also participated in the "Lucky Case" home game, in which viewers could win $10,000 based on their selection of one of the 26 cases.
Considering "Deal or No Deal" requires no intellectual knowledge (other than, perhaps, a little statistical analysis) nor mastery of a game (such as "Wheel of Fortune" or GSN's "Lingo") it is a surprisingly entertaining show. At the time of this writing, over 30 other countries had their own versions of the show.
Since when does a show have to be "intellectually Challenging"? Wheel
of Fortune has lasted for decades with practically NO intellect
required. (Other then knowing the English Language) The reason this
"game" is so good is because it IS Brilliantly simple. They could've
just called it "Greed" because that's all it's about.. that and knowing
how to play the odds. In the tradition of "Let's make a Deal" where
contestants keep their prizes or chose between trading for what's
behind curtain 1, 2 or 3; there hasn't been a similar game on
You have to Praise "originality" on television these days no matter how simple. Look at how many Networks copy the success of an Original show.. there was American Idol, so other networks tried to bring back Star Search to compete, and then Nashville Star.. both of which never came close. Survivor becomes a hit, so they try Fear Factor, The Cage, and endless others. "Tough Man" makes a mark as a Boxing competition, so they throw out the Contender and another Boxing reality show. Lost becomes a hit, so networks try and compete or Capitalize with Surface, Invasion and Threshold ... Law and Order and CSI are hits, so they make two more Spinoffs of each that saturate the Original.
These days, if a show isn't competing with a similar show it should be PRAISED. Surprisingly enough, "Deal or No Deal" actually has that "addictive" entertaining quality to it. No matter how simple it is. It's only downside in programming is that it's competing for airtime against "American Idol" which has been dominating 3 nights in a row in it's new season... blame those responsible for scheduling.
I can see this show returning many more times. And as for the "Banker", He'll probably be revealed one of these days. Maybe It'll be Regis. Simple it may be, but with all the copy-cat programming, at least it's refreshingly "Different".
Well, I, for one, find this show to be very interesting and
entertaining. Walk away when the commercials come on and come back
three or four minutes later and you will eliminate most of the
irritation. Howie Mandel does a really good-natured hosting bit that
should be a lesson to those that take themselves too seriously.
The girls are great and are having a lot of fun. This show will develop into a truly entertaining habit for the American viewing audience.
I found myself muttering at the ridiculous offers of the mysterious banker (the cheap creep ... get real!) I wanted some of the macho type, posturing contestants to refuse an offer and have to settle for a lot less. (goody goody) .. The whole gamut of human emotions that is strung out here is quite consuming... I look forward to the next show to see what sort of contestant we have and how they will handle it.
I should like so much to slap some of the contestants silly. Greed is either funny or pathetic and sometimes both at once. Tune in and feel very superior to these poor creatures and find yourself pulling for some of them and despising others. All the facets of watching a wrestling match without having to ignore the phoniness. These people really do want that money.
I am trying to tell you why you are going to get hooked. A very nice package and I say, "Yay, Howie, keep it on the fun level that it is now. Watch it. Enjoy it. Don't let anyone tell you it is not worth while until you have tried it yourself. Any night it is NOT on, I am very disappointed.
Please, spare me!! This program was watchable at its beginning, and
Howie Mandell is a likable presence. And even now, he does the best
possible, given his "script," and the guests which the producers have
I must admit, though, I still watch it some, with the sound muted about 90% of the time or more. Almost without exception the contestants act like yowling hyenas or screeching magpies, and their actions are a good approximation as well.
If there are those who feel as I do, then suicide watches should be established for the inevitable moment when Howie says "...change your life" one too many times.
The game is a simplistic lottery, with no way the contestants, who usually avow they have chosen a case with big bucks, could possibly have any intelligent reason for so believing. And then the Stepford models wish them luck, and purport sometimes to act if revealing a huge amount is somehow their fault. All they do is walk-on and stand like attractive cyborgs, holding an object with a figure enclosed which nobody viewing has any notion as to its amount.
So why do I watch at all? First, it has reached the level, like some movies, as being so bad that it is (sometimes) pretty "good," in a fascinating way. And I hope to catch the occasional contestant for whom you can "root," who has the intelligence to take the 6-figure offer, perhaps $200,000 or more, rather than risk opening the one large case remaining, among several smaller ones. This would be like someone having a $200,000 bankroll in Vegas, and laying $150,000 on the table, knowing if they picked a low card (among, say, 4 or 5) they could make a nice winning but if they selected the high one, their 150 thou would be gone. No sane person should make this wager. Yet several who could have walked away with a quarter of a million or so have opened one case too many and left (if smart) with 30- to 50-thousand. But several of these have continued and opened the last reasonably large case to leave with $10,000 or less.
Even the best poker players - the pros - go "on tilt" - playing stupidly the nest hand or two after a significant loss, compounding the problem, even though they know better. The contestants on this show do this a maximum speed.
I'd also like to see the occasional show (only one I saw was close to this, although there have probably been some others) where a contestant opens almost nothing but low amounts.
The reverse would interesting, where a contestant might open the cases with the nine largest amount initially.
One other fact. Among the contestants, as well as the three friends/family each one has on-stage (they must be endured, as well, as well as Howie's banter with them) most seem to have one thing in common: whatever their ages, backgrounds or interests, few look like they have ever pushed away from the dinner table early, or refused additional helpings.
On a recent program, the man playing turned-down $41,000, and then opened the last big case ($300,000) with $5,000 the highest of the few then remaining. He got to the point of a $2,500 "offer, with two cases remaining - $5,000 & $10. He kept "his" case, walked away with ten bucks, but with Howie's affirmation that he has a lovely family.
On another, A young Korean man, for once a likable, non-annoying presence, announced his folks had come to America with just $750 to make a new life. His parents were in the audience (and thankfully, likable as well), and he had the good sense to take $200,000+, with $75, $750 and $750,000 remaining. The was indeed an interesting coincidence, and his case contained $750, more interesting yet. But Howie treated this as if it were just shy of being on the order or the "second coming." This show does not lack hyperbole in any way.
What makes a good game show? A good game show is one that the viewer
can play at home while watching it on T.V. You can answer Jeopardy
questions or you can solve puzzles on Wheel Of Fortune; however - you,
as a viewer, really can't do much of anything on this show.
The ONLY exciting thing about this show is the fact that there is big money involved. This is great for the contestant, but the viewer can only live vicariously through the winner.
Seriously, this is only fun to watch when the person loses (or wins) all the money - mostly loses though. It seems that later episodes, the producers put contestants on that had a good sob story (not to diminish them).
I think the reason this game show became such a hit was that they put a pretty good improv comedian (see his early works) as the host and that the games rules are ultra simple - answer only one question (Deal or No Deal).
I can only give this show a rating of 3 because it is the same ole' episode every single time. I can even guess with pretty good accuracy what the banker will offer.
All that happens in this entire show is models holding numbered briefcases walk out, then the host (that famous and hilarious guy who starred in the movie "Walk Like A Man" in like 1981 then disappeared until now) asks the contestant to randomly pick numbers. Then they open those cases. Wow! That's it. The object is to not open the cases with big dollar amounts in them. A completely random game. After each round, the "banker" (a shadowy figure in a booth overlooking the studio floor - possibly one of the host's "Walk Like A Man" co-stars) calls down with an offer to buy the briefcase the contestant selected. Then they have to decide if they will take the offer or shout "NO DEAL!" and put the smack down on a big red button, which is so dramatic a moment I simply cannot put it into words. This show is almost as boring as watching grass grow. It says nothing but horrible things about our society that this random-numbers-guessing-game is a highly rated TV show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This might be the least challenging game show ever devised. I mean, all
you have to know is how to pick a suitcase and have it opened. There
are some factors that make it work.
Howie Mandell is the perfect host for this. He brings humor and personality to the table. He can over state the obvious and sell water to an Arab without being annoying (just imagine Gilbert Godfried trying to host this show).
Then, the show sells the models (sex) in that in a lot of them, 24 great looking women all wearing the same gown march out with suitcases to open on stage. There are more women wearing the same dress here than in most non-celebrity weddings.
Finally, there is the banker. Sitting in the dark glass room throwing out offers after each set of bags is opened. He or she calls on the phone and makes calculated offers to either tempt or create a boo from the audience. They are the wild card to the show. We don't need to know who the Banker is though we do on some shows. What is important is this evil persona thrown in to put us all on our guard for the next financial crisis.
Still, the package holds up enough along with the contestants friends and relatives to create entertainment. There is no violence here, and the innuendo is usually pretty harmless. Mandell is always topless and the models are always ready for the next ceremony. Sometimes they even cut the pay scale by using Contestants with the bags instead of models.
Strange how this works, but it does pretty well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first read the little synopsis on this show in TV Guide, I
couldn't believe how far Howie Mandell had continued to sink. First
those horrible Boston Pizza commercials and now a crappy NBC game show
involving no talent whatsoever, outside of the ability to calculate
odds (which, oddly enough, nobody on the show seems to be able to do).
And yet, when I turned in by chance a few nights ago, I couldn't turn it off. Never before have I seen anything which disgusts me more, and I keep tuning in. Why? Because there is nothing more interesting than watching people turn away guaranteed cash in favour of those pie-in-the-sky numbers glittering on the board.
I've seen a doctor, admittedly up to his eyeballs in loans turn down $140 thousand because he had a small chance at the $1 million left.
I've seen some woman turn down 3 years wages to end up with $5.
I watch each and every night, hoping and praying that contestants' greed turns against them and they pick "the case" which unravels any chances of a six-figure outcome.
And finally, back to Mr. Mandell. Howie, I have to say, I love you more than ever. While originally I felt that he deserved a nice swift kick to the nuts every time he cut to commercials, there's nothing quite like seeing there grief stricken faces when he tells them they need to wait until the break is finished.
I give it 0 stars out of 4, and will be tuning in tomorrow again at 8:00.
Just great. At my age, it's fairly bizarre to enjoy a show this much considering it is primarily aimed at a demographic somewhere in their mid-80s but I must confess, this is just grand. For certain, what knocks this show out of the park for me is Noel Edmonds. He gets soooo into it. It's a show where average members of the public open boxes and yet he treats the show likes its God's gift to the world. His enthusiasm turns a frankly rubbish television show into very amusing, very tense and very watchable rubbish. Definitely a highlight in the history of Channel 4. I would recommend it to anyone (particularly those that have little, or no, dignity).
I once used to watch deal or no deal regularly. I watched it every time it came on NBC or any other network, but one day I stopped and thought to myself, did I just succumb to insanity as Einstein defined it, according to Einstein insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome (not verbatim). What does this have to do with this show, well keep reading. Deal or no Deal is a show you become an expert at after watching a couple of episodes. Same story same occurrences but maybe the models might differ from one episode to another but mostly even they are the same. So for me there is no point on watching this show regularly when I can predict what's going to happen. After seeing about five or six episodes of this, I could literally tell what case number the players will choose, and what the banker will offer. For a game show it's not bad. But this is not a show you would never get tired of, or at least be in love with for a long time.
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