In the U.K. version, two teams, comprised of five men against five women and a celebrity captain for each team, compete against each other in a series of 60-second challenges to earn points. Each player must compete in an event and the team with the highest score at the end of the sixth event will win the game and will advance to the Cash Builder round. In the Cash Builder round, the winning team will start with a bank of £5,000 and will have 60 seconds to add to the bank for the final round. Each item in this round is worth £1,000 towards the bank. After the Cash Builder round ends, one player will be selected to play in the final round for the grand prize bank. If the contestant beats the final challenge, the team wins the money in their bank.
In the “Gameplay” factor, the U.K. has the advantage over the U.S. in this category. What fascinated me most about the U.K. version is the approach they took for the show and how it differs from almost every other international version of Minute To Win It. I like how the U.K. version’s concept and format is more original and the “Battle of The Sexes” theme they have going on as well. On the other hand, the U.S. version’s format not only rips off Millionaire’s original money level format (with milestones included), but also rips off The Cube, with the contestants using “lives” as chances on Minute To Win It. There are also too many milestones in the U.S. version. NBC had it right during the first season with only one milestone at the $50,000 level. The only time the show should have that many milestones is during the celebrity episodes. With all the milestones, it seems like the U.S. version’s only objective is to give away as much money as possible without any risk involved, such as on Deal or No Deal and Red or Black. Additionally, the 60-second games are challenging and are regularly rotated well, but sometimes I think some of the lower level games are more difficult that some of the higher level games. Overall, even though I think more money should be offered in the Cash Builder round, the U.K.’s format is far more creative than the U.S.’s format.
Gameplay: U.S. Version= 5 U.K. Version= 9
Factor #2: Show Flow
The U.S. version and the U.K. version each took a different approach to Minute To Win It. The U.S. series began focusing mainly on the gameplay. Several episodes later, the show transformed into a sob-story driven game show that is mostly fixated on the contestant’s lives rather than the actual gameplay. I understand that the show wants to capture the raw emotion from the contestants by having the emotional support from the audience, host, family and friends who might appear on show. However, it gets to the point where it’s annoying when the show is filled with almost every second of emotional moments, family flashbacks, and “surprise” family guests and phone calls. The U.K. version, however, has a more comical and light-hearted feel to it. It’s interesting that this show went with the comical approach because it has been a while since I have seen any game show where humor was a key element since Match Game. Darren McMullen, the host of the U.K. version, often jokes around on the show among the contestants, celebrity captains, and the viewers while still focusing on the show’s gameplay and not being completely fixated on trying to fill every second with jokes.
The U.K.’s great balance of humor and focus on the actual gameplay gives them the edge in the “Show Flow” category. Another reason why the U.S. version gets a below average rating in this category is because the show inserts the annoying, off-putting commercial cutaways at the beginning or in the middle of the games being played. This show also uses too many intros into commercial breaks as spoilers and teasers, and often abuses that aspect by spoiling the entire episode. A good example of this would be the two-part “Team Bishop” episode that was spoiled within the first commercial break by revealing one of the kids playing the million-dollar game Supercoin.
Show Flow: U.S. Version= 5 U.K. Version= 9
Factor #3: Host
In the U.K. version, Darren McMullen does a great job hosting the show. As I have said in the “Slow Flow” section, McMullen does a good job of making the contestants feel relaxed and not tense by joking with them while still focusing on the gameplay, even though some of his jokes are lame and unfunny at times. In the U.S. version, Guy Fieri carries the show well and interacts with the contestants well and often consoles and reassures the contestants when they don’t do well in a challenge. The only problem I have with him is that he often commentates too much during some of the tense, tough games. This was almost a tough one to call, but the edge goes to the U.K.’s Darren McMullen.