''Millionaire'' helps ABC take the sweeps lead | EW.com


''Millionaire'' helps ABC take the sweeps lead

But the cocky million-dollar-winner causes Ken Tucker to fall back in love with ''Felicity''

”Millionaire” helps ABC take the sweeps lead

It looks like it’s in the bag for ABC to win the current sweeps periods, based almost entirely on the mega-ratings for ”Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” But last Friday’s all-the-way-to-the-top winner, John Carpenter – the first to win the full seven figures, and that includes the original, British version of the show – hasn’t done the series any favors.

I’ll preface my remarks by saying that Carpenter, having agreed to appear not only on ”Millionaire” but, post-win, on NBC’s ”Saturday Night Live,” ABC’s ”Good Morning America,” ”Live With Regis and Kathie Lee,” and CBS’ ”Late Show With David Letterman,” has turned himself voluntarily into a public figure, and as such is open to pop-culture commentary like…

Well, like have you ever seen a more cocky, unlikable contestant on a game show in your life? Even Carpenter, an Internal Revenue Service employee, said of the stunt he pulled during the million-buck question (calling his father, not for ”Life Line” help, but to inform him, ”Dad, I’m about to win the million dollars”) that ”I’m a bit of a smartass that way.” That’s fer sure – and it was kind of refreshing. After decades of game-show contestants weeping and yelping and hugging hosts, Carpenter’s disdain for the questions he was asked (that ”Laugh-In” Richard Nixon clincher was laughably easy to most American adults) was startling.

Initially, I thought he was a cold-blooded character, playing into all the clichés about I.R.S. minions, but after all his other media appearances, I admire Carpenter for maintaining his dignity as all around him, TV personalities are gushing and joshing.

I don’t quite believe that Carpenter’s win was greased by easy, end-of-sweeps-stunting questions by ABC and the ”Millionaire” producers. But I do know that my interest in the show itself has peaked with Carpenter’s victory. With the addition of Fox’s dreadful rip-off show ”Greed” and more avarice-aimed game shows in the offing, I’m ready to start switching back to other networks’ regularly scheduled programming. Better a good episode of ”Felicity” (to the four other viewers who watched this past weekend: Wasn’t that a juicy Thanksgiving episode?) than watching Regis anoint another millionaire.