Carol Kaelson/Syfy
Jonathon Dornbush
July 15, 2015 AT 12:00 PM EDT

The game show format could always use a twist, something to shake it up, not merely stir it. Geeks Who Drink answers that call with a literal twist, depending on the players’ drinks of choice, that is.

Hosted by Zachary Levi, Syfy’s Geeks Who Drink puts the nerd cred of two teams of geeks to the test with some prizes on the line and a steady supply of alcohol throughout the show.

Both teams, headed by a celebrity geek, compete in a series of quiz rounds and games that whether they really did spend all of those years reading and rereading their favorite comics, or whether they simply skim Wikipedia to know what’s happening in the latest Marvel movie.

NCIS: Los Angeles’ Eric Christian Olsen and Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter head up the two teams in Geeks Who Drinks’ premiere, which also takes the time to introduce the non-celebrity geeks. Channeling his inner Alex Trebek, Levi discusses a factoid or two with each contestant that best show off their nerdy side, while other pieces of information briefly appear on screen throughout the episode. It’s a nice way of paying more than mere lip service to the “Geeks” in the title.

And more than that, Geeks Who Drink seems built to be fun. In fact, it may be one of the only game shows in recent memory where being a contestant is probably as enjoyable as being a member of the audience. The show’s set is built to be a large bar-restaurant, with the audience seated at tables, drinks in hand. (There are several shots to waitresses in the crowd reminding you of all the presumably free alcohol being consumed before you.) Coupled with the bar behind Levi and the teams, and Geeks Who Drink does well to break out of the traditional game show set mold.

So while you may be sitting there jealously watching the crowd, your enjoyment of Geeks Who Drink will come down to how much you like Levi. For Chuck and likely soon Heroes fans, that won’t be much of an issue. Levi does a great job keeping the night going, with his own commentary and sense of excitement for the material maintaining the pace. Levi has proven his nerd cred before, and the show gives him another outlet for it. More than that, he genuinely seems to be enjoying himself, which will help as he fine-tunes his hosting skills throughout the show.

That enthusiasm is on full display, even if the material is never particularly challenging. These questions won’t quite stump you like a round of Jeopardy will (or maybe I just need to get outside more often), but it’s fun to put your pop-culture knowledge to the test alongside the show. There’s certainly no shortage of geeky subject matter to cover, and hopefully, as the specific topics seem to indicate, the show continues to switch out the subjects covered to make each episode feel fresh.

But overall, Geeks Who Drink starts off on a fun beat, which is exactly what a game show like this needs to survive. It has some rough edges in its pacing and team interaction to smooth out, but that’s something that can be solved with time. It’s a blast to see how deep your geek knowledge goes, but the true joy of Geeks Who Drink is its atmosphere, which wants to ensure you’re having as much fun watching as they are playing. Even if you have to pay for your own alcohol.

Geeks Who Drink airs Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET on Syfy. 

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