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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good Show! Elements of "Now You See It" and "Scrabble", 3 July 2007
8/10

GSN's first new game show effort in several years (after the bombs "Cram" and "WinTuition"), "Camouflage" is a very clever and challenging word search game with elements from other word-based game shows like "Now You See It" and "Scrabble".

Based on a video screen displaying one to three lines of run-on letters (some of which spell some rather amusing phrases, thanks to the show's team of writers), contestants must figure out the answers based on the clue read by host Lodge. Example clue (not on the show): "It's just a numbers game." Example puzzle: "CRABLOPOTTERIBBY". As the computerized video screen removes the extra letters the answer emerges, "LOTTERY". Contestants able to determine the answer to a puzzle with fewer letters removed earn higher scores. Three rounds of puzzles are played to determine a winner.

The player with the highest score advances to the Final Camouflage round and must solve a series of short puzzles in 45 seconds. For each puzzle solved, one letter is removed from the final puzzle. The player solving the final puzzle wins $5,000, or $250 for each of the other puzzles if the final puzzle is unsolved.

What "Camouflage" has in common with "Now You See It", "Scrabble", "Crosswits" and even "The Magnificent Marble Machine" is the crossword puzzle-style clues. Those who enjoy crossword puzzles will likely enjoy "Camouflage".

The show is taped at KCET-TV, a PBS station in Los Angeles, for GSN.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not as good as the original, 12 October 2006
6/10

"Whammy!" was a lower-budget re-hack of the CBS Television classic "Press Your Luck". Taped at the Tribune Studios in Los Angeles, the show had smaller prizes and the dopey gimmick of dumping things on contests hapless enough to spin a Double Whammy.

Hosted by the relatively fake Todd Newton, "Whammy" pitted three contestants in a contest of nerve and luck. The first round was, effectively, a game of chicken in which each contestant, one at a time, took turns stopping the computerized ring of video monitors (which replaced the rear-projection screens of the 80's). If you hit a Whammy during this first round, you were out for the rest of the round. Each successive series of turns, more Whammies were added to the board, making it increasingly risky to press your luck.

The second round is what used to be the first round. Contestants were asked a series of general knowledge questions. The first contestant to buzz in and give an answer correctly received 3 spins; other contestants selecting the correct answer from the first contestant's answer and two other answers received 1 spin.

The exciting final round is what most people remember from the original CBS show - the spins round. Each contestant would take turns trying to stop the flashing video monitors on prizes or cash, which would be added to that player's bank. Landing on a Whammy meant the contestant lost what was in his/her bank to that point. At any point, a player could pass his/her spins to another player in hopes that the recipient would hit a Whammy (unless the spins had already been passed previously, in which case the player would have to take them).

There were a number of things I found frustrating about this format of the show.

1. Todd Newton is no Peter Tomarken. Todd Newton might be better on some other show, but the quick pace called for someone just a bit snappier. Peter Tomarken was the perfect host - funny, just a bit of a smart aleck.

2. The structure of the show meant a commercial dropped in the middle of the spins round when the tension was greatest. Never kill momentum with a commercial. On the CBS version, there was a first question round, then a commercial, then the first spins round, then a commercial, then a second question round, then another commercial, then the second and final spins round - to completion! - and then a final commercial before the contestants' prizes were read back to him/her.

3. The toteboards on the CBS version of the show were larger and easier to read. Presumably because it was less costly, "Whammy" went with video monitors with pretty small fonts instead. This made the prizes look even smaller.

4. You didn't get two rounds of spinning, just the one at the end.

5. The reading of the prizes at the end of the show would, often times, be a laundry list of things without brand names, suggesting there was nothing special about them. On the CBS version of the show you heard about everything. On "Whammy" it was more like, "You've won a pool table... how about a new jacuzzi... and a golf cart." They needn't have bothered.

6. Dump the Double Whammies. This is "Press Your Luck", not "Beat The Clock" or Nick's "Double Dare". Leave the messes for stunt-based game shows.

If there is a remake of "Whammy", I hope it's called either "Press Your Luck" as it was before, or the more appropriately titled "Big Bucks!". And I certainly hope Todd Newton isn't hosting it!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A 30-Minute, All-Female Version of "This Is Your Life", 29 September 2006

ABC-TV's "The Girl In My Life" was a schmaltzfest featuring Fred Holliday rewarding women nominated by viewers as worthy of receiving prizes and the national spotlight. This non-game show originally aired afternoons around during roughly the same period as games like the (then) new "You Don't Say", "The MoneyMaze" and "Rhyme and Reason".

Being a guy, I wasn't able to get into this lovefest but, for some reason, I can still hum the theme song.

If memory serves me, the show was a Carruthers Company production (the folks behind the 80's hit "Press Your Luck") and Tom Naud Productions (the folks behind the not-so-popular "Rhyme And Reason").

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
"100 Mexicanos Dijeron", but played with dollars, 6 August 2006
7/10

In 2006, Telefutura took "100 Mexicanos Dijeron", their hit game show to a broader Latino audience, broadening the concept to include those of other Latino persuasions - Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Argentinians, Ecuadorians, and other Spanish-speaking groups than just Mexicans. The result is "Que Dice La Gente?", literally, "What Are People Saying?", the newest incarnation of the Goodson-Todman 1976 classic, "Family Feud". Once again, Marco Antonio Regil hosts and the show lasts a full hour, enough for two full games.

In the first half of the show, two new families compete in a race to 300 points. At the start of each round, Regil asks a survey question previously asked to 100 people (e.g., "Name an occupation that requires you to be clean"). One player from each family sounds in and gives an answer. The player giving the highest (most popular) answer in the survey automatically gains control of the question for his/her family. This differs from the American version in which the family decides on whether to play the question or pass to their opponents, hoping they can steal it back later.

One by one, each member of the five-person family team gives answers they think will appear in the list of answers from the survey. The more popular the answer, the more points - 55 responses equal 55 points. An answer must have been given by at least two people to make the list of answers, so in most rounds the number of points does not equal 100 exactly.

If an answer does not appear on this list, it's a strike (signified by a buzzer offstage); if a family gets three strikes the opposing family can claim the points in the bank by giving one unrevealed answer not mentioned by the first family. Unlike the American version of the game, the value of this final answer is added to the bank if given; on the American version of the show, the value of the bank is effectively frozen after a third strike. This occasionally led to some meager banks (imagine a 6-part question where the bottom two answers were given for a total of 18 points) and a team giving a #1 answer couldn't improve the bank.

The first three rounds are played for points at face value, with the fourth round played for double points and the fifth round, if necessary, played for triple points. If no family has reached 300 points by the end of the fifth round, then a sixth and final round is played, "Subita Muerta" or sudden death, also for triple points (to ensure a winner). This is the only round of the game where a pass or play option is present, but it is also the only round where one strike is allowed (similar to the 2000 production of "Family Feud"). Often the sudden death round has only three answers so the pass/play strategy makes sense: does a family risk playing in order to give two correct answers, or pass to their opponents hoping they can get one final chance?

The winning family goes on to play "Dinero Rapido" (literally, "Fast Money") for a chance to win up to $5,000 in the first half of the program or up to $10,000 in the second half (as compared to "100 Mexicanos Dijeron" in which the prize was slightly less than $10,000). As in the American version of the show, two players answer the same five survey questions in 15 seconds (first player) and 20 seconds (second player), with a total of 200 combined points resulting in the big prize. A failure to produce 200 points meant the family received a consolation prize of $500. (This is not substantially different from the 1976 version of "Family Feud", in which winning families received between $300 and $600 for winning a game.) The winning family from the second match has the chance to return to defend their championship title on the next show.

Before the "Dinero Rapido" round is played on the second half of the show, the first player pulls a ribbon from a table decorated with large, colored, transparent, acrylic question marks (the same as in the show's title logotype). Certain ribbons are marked $500 (a bonus prize if the family earns 200 points), certain ribbons are marked "Extra Puntos" (extra points, a random number of points added to the score if the family fails to earn 200, kind of a second-chance way to win), and still others are marked "Doble" (double, which doubles the possible prize from $5,000 to $10,000). The rest of the non-winning ribbons are simply labeled "Buena Suerte" (good luck).

"Que Dice La Gente", like "100 Mexicanos Dijeron", is funny and entertaining and Regil's million-dollar smile and cordial nature are a pleasure to view. As with the previous show, there are "V.I.P." specials featuring celebrities familiar to Latinos.

"Que Dice La Gente", at the time of this writing, aired on the Univision/Telefutura television networks, in prime time, at 7pm Eastern and 6pm Central.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A hipper update of an NBC classic, 3 August 2006
7/10

A lot of people think of ABC's "Password" as the only word association game from game show history. Ah, if they overlook "Chain Reaction", how wrong they are. Michael Davies, the British genius behind "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", has dusted off this old show (it seems that Europe is the new region for game show production companies, think Fremantle Media's "The Price Is Right" and Endemol's "Deal Or No Deal") and brought it back with a new look and feel.

The object of the game is simple. Guess the next word in a series of words, each of which is associated somehow with the word above and below it. Letters are revealed one at a time and teams alternate back and forth until a word is guessed (or completely revealed, unlike the NBC version). Here's an example of a completed chain:

CHOCOLATE

MILK

SHAKE

DOWN

PILLOW

TALK

SHOW

The connections are "chocolate milk", "milk shake", "shake down" (as in shakedown), "down pillow", "pillow talk", and "talk show".

In this new version of the show, each correct guess is worth $100 in on the first chain, $200 on the second chain, and $300 on the third. When a team of three players (usually all friends associated somehow - all childhood buddies, all comedians, etc.) correctly guesses the last word in the chain, they get a chance to play a new feature for this edition, "Speed Chain". The Speed Chain is a miniature chain in which the team has 7 seconds to guess the middle two words of the chain. An example of a speed chain is:

THUNDER

S

C

DOOR

The correct answer for this one is:

THUNDER

STORM

CELLAR

DOOR

A Speed Chain pays at the same value for the preceding words in the chain - not much of a bonus, but some feel the show may make some adjustments during its inaugural run.

A fourth and final chain is played, but unlike the original version, now a player on a team must name a wager (from $100 to $500 of their bank) in addition to selecting where a letter is placed. The team with the highest bank after this final chain is the day's winner and advances to the bonus round.

In the bonus round, as on the original show, two players on the team alternate giving single-word clues to form a question that their now-blindfolded third teammate must guess (after ringing a bell). Seven correct answers in 90 seconds doubles the money won in the main game, while ten correct answers triples it. (The main game money is not at risk.) This is considerably less than the $10,000 originally awarded for a successful run in the NBC version.

Viewers old enough to remember clock radios with flip-style numeric displays or airport information boards with flip-style letters may enjoy the faux-flip-style graphics used throughout the show to display the words (or, like me, they'll wonder why the show didn't just bother getting some real displays!). Those born after 1980 probably won't appreciate the significance of the flip display paradigm; they'll just think it's "cool".

When NBC did the show back in the 70's, the venerable Bill Cullen hosted and celebrities played along with regular contestants. When the show was syndicated (as "The $40,000 Chain Reaction") it appeared to be done on the cheap. Thankfully, Michael Davies & company have given the show a better look, but appear to have skimped on the budget. As the show is running on GSN, that may be the reason.

"Chain Reaction" will have you calling out answers to the TV; it is an eminently playable game. With some adjustments and some larger prizes, the show has the potential to be another word-game hit on GSN, much like "Lingo".

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"A quiz show for people that don't like quiz shows", 25 April 2006

So went the tag line for PBS' "We Interrupt This Week", a weekly news quiz featuring two teams of well-known columnists and journalists, produced at the studios of WNET Channel 13 in New York City. Imagine a cross between "The News Hour" and "College Bowl" and you're 90% there.

Two teams of three panelists competed on "We Interrupt This Week", a Home side of regulars and a set of Visitors that changed each week. The object of the game was simply to score the most points, but unlike other quizzes, this one had a delightful twist: points were awarded not just for correct answers, but also for witty, clever, or funny responses. Ned Sherrin's opening spiel began with an acerbic rundown on the events of the week just past, and wrapped up with the memorable words, "Those are all the rules, except to say that MY decisions will be arbitrary, prejudiced, and final." Panelists appearing on the series included Jeff Greenfield, Carrie Nye, Barbara Howar, and Richard Reeves.

The series ran during the fall of 1978 but, failing to win a sufficiently strong audience, would never return. Another popular news quiz would eventually surface on National Public Radio, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!", but "We Interrupt This Week" remains a rare nationally-televised game or quiz show on PBS.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Better Than The American Version!, 12 January 2006

If you happen to be up on your Spanish or wish to learn to speak it better like I do, you'll really enjoy "100 Mexicanos Dijeron" (literally, "100 Mexicans Said..."). The show is the Mexican version of Goodson-Todman's 1976 hit, "Family Feud", and features local television personality Marco Antonio Regil as host. Unlike the American version, this version, produced by Televisa for the Telefutura network, lasts a full 60 minutes.

In the first half of the show, two new families compete in a race to 300 points. At the start of each round, Regil asks a survey question previously asked to 100 Mexicans (e.g., "Name an occupation that requires you to be clean"). One player from each family sounds in and gives an answer. The player giving the highest (most popular) answer in the survey automatically gains control of the question for his/her family. This differs from the American version in which the family decides on whether to play the question or pass to their opponents, hoping they can steal it back later.

One by one, each member of the five-person family team gives answers they think will appear in the list of answers from the survey. The more popular the answer, the more points - 55 responses equal 55 points. An answer must have been given by at least two people to make the list of answers, so in most rounds the number of points does not equal 100.

If an answer does not appear on this list, it's a strike (signified by a buzzer offstage); if a family gets three strikes the opposing family can claim the points in the bank by giving one unrevealed answer not mentioned by the first family. Unlike the American version of the game, the value of this final answer is added to the bank if given; on the American version of the show, the value of the bank is effectively frozen after a third strike. This occasionally led to some meager banks (imagine a 6-part question where the bottom two answers were given for a total of 18 points) and a team giving a #1 answer couldn't improve the bank.

The first three rounds are played for points at face value, with the fourth round played for double points and the fifth round, if necessary, played for triple points. If no family has reached 300 points by the end of the fifth round, then a sixth and final round is played, "Subita Muerta" or sudden death, also for triple points (to ensure a winner). This is the only round of the game where a pass or play option is present, but it is also the only round where one strike is allowed (similar to the 2000 production of "Family Feud"). Often the sudden death round has only three answers so the pass/play strategy makes sense: does a family risk playing in order to give two correct answers, or pass to their opponents hoping they can get one final chance? The first family reaching 300 points receives a flat 5,000 pesos (at the exchange rates current to this writing, about $450). This is not substantially different from the 1976 version of "Family Feud", in which winning families received between $300 and $600 for winning a game.

The winning family goes on to play "Dinero Rapido" (literally, "Fast Money") for a chance to win 100,000 pesos (or close to $10,000). As in the American version of the show, two players answer the same five survey questions in 15 seconds (first player) and 20 seconds (second player), with a total of 200 combined points resulting in the big prize.

Win or lose, the family advances to the second half-hour of the program, in which they meet the defending champion family from the previous night's show. Game play is the same for the second half of the show, with the winner of the game declared the day's champion and advancing to Fast Money for a larger prize of up to 200,000 pesos.

Before the second Fast Money round, the first player selects a piece of candy from a large basket on stage (this is reminiscent of when Richard Dawson had players on the end of the stage pull a lollipop; certain marked pieces carried a $100 bonus). Many pieces are simply labeled "Buena Suerte" (Good Luck) but some pieces are labeled with special additional prizes (5,000 pesos), extra points (a random number of points added at the end of the game if the family has less than 200 points), or "Double" (raising the prize to the 200,000 peso maximum).

The pace of "100 Mexicanos Dijeron" is brisk and Regil's sense of humor is delightful. The audience's and players' enthusiasm is far more palpable than that of the American version. The scoreboard and game resemble those you'd see in a soccer stadium, complete with cartoon animations. The celebrity specials that run occasionally carry the designation "V.I.P." and feature Mexican stars playing for charities.

"100 Mexicanos Dijeron", at the time of this writing, aired on the Univision/Telefutura television networks, in prime time, at 8pm Eastern and 7pm Central.

38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly Exciting "Deal"!, 22 December 2005

"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.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"Billion" a Pepsi/WB Promotional Special, 21 November 2005

In this two-hour summer special, The WB and Pepsi teamed up for an entertainment extravaganza highlighting the upcoming WB fall schedule, and offering the chance for one player to win a billion dollars. One thousand winners - determined by whether they found specially-marked bottle caps on Pepsi products - were flown in to Southern California for a chance to win cash prizes.

The special started with a chimpanzee selecting numbered billiard balls at random to form a six-digit number that, if matched at the end of the show, would guarantee the winner $1 billion. Holly Robinson Peete hosted this segment of the show.

The middle section of the show was a series of WB promos and other games with members of the studio audience, often for cash prizes.

Throughout the show, the names of the 12 finalists were announced. These finalists were selected based on how close they came to predicting the 6-digit number - which they picked before the show was aired - for $1 billion.

The end of the show - the last 30 minutes - was where the real excitement was. The finalists, in a game of chicken, were each given the opportunity to buy out their chance at a billion dollars for dollar amounts ranging from $20,000 (first offer) to $100,000 (last offer). The premise was that those that weren't confident in their prediction could take a sure thing rather than going away with nothing. Each round, everyone had 10 seconds (marked by a huge projection-screen clock) to press a button they were holding if they wanted out. One by one each contestant left or was eliminated from the round until one player remained, and that player won a guaranteed $1 million.

Finally, the 6-digit number was revealed, one digit at a time. If all six digits matched that of the contestant's prediction, the contestant won $1 billion.

Many folks online thought that a billion prize was financial suicide for Pepsi, who (it was said) actually took out an insurance policy with the world-famous Lloyd's of London should a contest be lucky enough to beat the 1-in-1,000,000 odds of winning the big prize. Others felt the use of a chimp to make the selection of the winning number silly. But the whole thing was definitely enough of a success that ABC-TV picked up the show the following summer (2004).

"Emeril" (2000)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A disaster that never needed to be made, 25 August 2005

Emeril LaGasse is a well-renowned chef whose antics on his own show, "Emeril Live", which airs on the Food Network (on cable), are plenty entertaining. So why did NBC decide to green-light an effort - with a script - where Emeril plays himself? Who knows? It could be imagined that Emeril was so hot at the time the sitcom aired (2001) that NBC wanted a piece of the pie.

Here was the problem: Emeril didn't need a script. The man is at his best when he's working without a net, schmoozing the audience stageside, and chatting with his band. He's plenty funny on Food Network's show without any help from writers and, of course, meddling producers and exec-producers. In addition, his real show gets a full hour while working to a sitcom format (plot exposes, builds, and resolves in 30 minutes) would have been constricting.

Mercifully, this dish from NBC was sent back to the kitchen. "Emeril Live" continues to provide "Bam!" on Food Network, where Emeril will continue to work his magic on viewers.


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