As someone who has spent many hours vegetating happily in front of Jeopardy! and The $10,000 Pyramid as it inflated into a $100,000 pyramid, I wonder, Why can’t anyone come up with a good new game show? Such a program would be instantly addictive to millions of viewers, a bonanza for advertisers, and could easily yield a figure of national prominence equal to Vanna White. But I guess I also know the answer to my question. While game shows are cheap to produce and frequently seem as hastily slapped together as their glitzy sets, inventing a fresh, intriguing premise for one is actually exceedingly difficult; like so much supposedly cheesy pop culture, there’s an art to the good stuff that can’t be faked.
But the sillines of The Hollywood Game pales in comparison with the season’s other game-show launch, Love at First Sight. Love is a new dating game with fluorescent hormones, a variation on the legend-in-its-own-pants Studs. As host Jeff MacGregor explains it at the top of each edition, ”We bring three men and three women together and hopefully find love at first sight at the end of the show.” Huh? But I thought the phrase ”love at first sight” meant… well, love at first sight, the moment you meet someone. Deciding if you’re in love after 30 minutes of forced joking doesn’t seem quite cricket.
The swinging singles who form the Love contestant pool are required to ask each other cutesy questions that supposedly reveal their personalities. One guy inquired of one gal,”What three things are most likely to get you interested in a man?” ”His mind, his body, and his money,” she replied. The audience howled and squealed, as if this woman was being bold or racy, but her criteria seemed merely sensible to me. Also incredibly dull — I’d rather try to answer I Love Lucy questions than sit in on these televised personals ads. I really want to like Love at First Sight, too, because MacGregor, who presided over The All-New Dating Game in 1988, is my favorite younger generation game-show host: smirky yet truly funny and fast with an original ad-lib.
In the fall Bill Cosby will enter the game-show competition with his updated, syndicated version of Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life. The show is expected to do well, but no matter how amusing Cosby is, it’s just another reworking of an old idea. The great new game show of the ’90s remains to be invented. D+