TBS has teamed up with entertainment icon Snoop Dogg with Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker's Wild. Snoop Dogg, who counted The Joker's Wild as his favorite game show growing up, hosts TBS' new...
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TBS has teamed up with entertainment icon Snoop Dogg with Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker's Wild. Snoop Dogg, who counted The Joker's Wild as his favorite game show growing up, hosts TBS' new version set in his very own casino that includes a gigantic slot machine, giant dice and playing cards. The game features a variety of categories with a Snoop-a-fied touch and includes cameos by Seth Rogen, Wiz Khalifia, Karlie Kloss, Michael Strahan, Method Man, Regis Philbin, Kelly Osbourne and Karrueche Tran. Streetwise questions and problem solving, not just book smarts, rule the floor with all the action controlled by the one and only Snoop D-O Double G.
TJW = WTF?? A CBS Classic is Revived But Changes Nearly Everything (And Not In A Good Way)
"From Hollywood it's the game where knowledge is king and Lady Luck is queen..."
Sadly, the "knowledge" is largely gone from TBS's revival of "The Joker's Wild", a classic CBS game show that rewarded actual book knowledge with cash and prizes of up to $25,000. Entertainer Snoop Dogg brought back a new version of this Jack Barry vehicle in October of 2017 on TBS and for those who remember and loved the original, this one is a huge disappointment. The beautiful, sparkling new set alone is not enough to save this bomb.
There's so many things about the new version of the show that I disliked upon viewing the premiere. The audience. The questions. The changed flow of play. And most certainly the host. Snoop's persona – at least on the show – is that of a drug-friendly casino operator party guy with a streetwise sense of humor. That, of course, is nothing like Jack Barry or, really, any other quiz show emcee of any of the classics.
Snoop is supposed to be the main draw for the show - but with the original, it wasn't about the host. It was about the game, at least for the viewers. Jack Barry was an affable host, like many emcees of the day, but he wasn't playing a version of himself, and a seedy one at that. He was actually trying to clean up his image, having been implicated in The Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950's. He needed to be squeaky clean. Luckily, it worked.
A good game show host - to me - knows how to set up tension and the big moments. Snoop isn't up to that the way, say, Steve Harvey is on "Family Feud". If you're watching a game, as a viewer, you don't want to be going, "What just happened?"
Snoop has famously said "The Joker's Wild" was one of his favorite shows growing up, and that he used to watch it with his grandmother. I don't think Snoop would have done so well as a contestant on the CBS original.
The new version of the game is not a general knowledge quiz – at least, as you'd see on "Jeopardy!" with Alex Trebek. On the new version of "Joker" questions are more about streetwise subjects or comedic themes. The category names are too silly to recount here, but I was reminded of the equally frivolous names chosen for categories on the 2000 "Pyramid" revival with Donny Osmond (which I was glad to see bite the dust). Sometimes it's possible to be too cutesy.
Even the lousy 1990 version with Pat Finn, there were quiz questions about real topics – given as definitions, where the player had to define the person, place or thing Finn read off his cards. The message Snoop's "Joker" sends is that there's zero value in knowing school subjects or facts. This show is suitable for a "post-fact" era.
New "Joker" isn't even the same game structurally. Designed to fit within a single-half hour, with no carry-over champions (even the current incarnation of "Family Feud" with Steve Harvey lets families stay five days to win a new SUV), this version of "Joker" is a contest to see who can amass the most money during game play, not whether they can reach a particular amount. That dramatically changes the game. There are fewer moments for natural tension. A wrong answer to a question can't be picked up by an opponent for credit, as in the original version. There is no "final spin" rule if a player reaches the winning amount before players have had an equal number of spins. And a three-Joker spin is lame, as it only counts for $500 towards a daily total. There is no Joker's Jackpot and no five-win big car payoff.
Speaking of the audience (and the players), I didn't see anyone present over the age of 30. The original "Joker" wasn't so narrow in its appeal, and that might have been part of the reason it was a classic – you could see students, parents, professionals, artists, young adults, older adults, everyone. It seems that Snoop's version of the show basically says, "If you ain't a club kid, or you don't dig me, you're too old."
"The Joker's Wild" was never intended to be a comedy game show. There have been other game shows that were expressly designed as humor vehicles - "Make Me Laugh", "The Hollywood Squares", "The Gong Show", "Match Game", "Every Second Counts", "Can You Top This?" - but taking a venerated quiz and turning it into a comedy vehicle isn't a good idea.
I partly blame "new generation" producers – folks whose interest is in leaving their own mark on a classic genre rather than respecting what made the genre work – it's all about them. I have seen revivals come and go in recent years, but they usually never stay. They all have to be edgy. They all have to be "explicit". They all have to be bawdy.
Richard Kline's company tried to redo "Joker" in 1990 by changing nearly everything and it was a flop – only after several months in did they try to retool the game with classic "Joker" rules, but it was too late then. Replacing Snoop as host would be better, but it wouldn't save everything.
If you wanted to have a game show in a night club - and all that implies - you'd get Snoop's reboot of "The Joker's Wild". With the exception of the beautiful new set, there is little that a fan of the original CBS "Joker" will enjoy – unless you want a program based on jokes. "Jeopardy!" or quiz show fans can rightfully wince. And TBS will have to promote the daylights out of this show to make it a commercial success with its millennial target viewers.
I will stick to reruns of the classic CBS show on YouTube.
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