"Million Dollar Mind Game" First Season Recap

This afternoon’s episode of Million Dollar Mind Game marked the season finale of the first season of the new ABC game show. In Million Dollar Mind Game, a team of six contestants must answer questions and riddles for the top prize of $1,000,000. Click here for more information about the rules of the show. What makes this show great and one of the best recent game shows you have probably never seen before are the challenging logic-based questions that are asked on the show and the formal attire that the contestants, studio audience, and host are required to wear for the show. The only factor that is keeping the show from getting great viewer ratings is the timeslot. With the timeslot the show is currently placed in (Sundays at 4:00 p.m. EST), Million Dollar Mind Game has received less than impressive ratings, which could lead to the series’ unjust demise despite the support of the dedicated fans who remember to watch and promote the show weekly. In this week’s article, I’m going to recap all six episodes from the first season of Million Dollar Mind Game.

Episode 1: The Middle School Teachers (Airdate: 10/23/2011)
In the series premiere of the show, a team of middle-school teachers were the first team of six to step up to the million-dollar challenge. Even though the team blew through all three of their helps on the first three levels, the team managed to walk away with $72,000, becoming the show’s first winners. The team bailed out at the right time having answered three questions incorrectly and after brilliantly figuring out that the reason behind the Mona Lisa’s smile was because of her pregnancy. 

Episode 2: The Video Game Geeks: Part 1 (Airdate: 10/30/2011)

On the second episode, a team of self-proclaimed video game geeks were the next team to face the challenge. From the start, this team proved to be a force to be reckoned with after zooming through the game and reaching the $360,000 level without using any helps. Even though the team answered two questions incorrectly, the video gamers displayed excellent teamwork and how the game should played. One of the contestants, Frank Toda, even proclaimed that “You might as well disconnect my red button now because we’re going for the million dollars.” His philosophy would soon backfire and ultimately destroy the team’s success. But, I’ll get to that in a moment. On a quick end note, the one moment that surprised me on this episode was when the team answered the Harry Potter question wrong. The question was “School kids in the U.K. were all abuzz when Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban came out. Even though U.K. shops were open all day and had them in stock, the book didn’t go on sale until 3:45p.m. on July 8 of 1999. Why did they go on sale at that precise time?” Their answer was because of the sequence of the numbers are significant to the train times for Hogwarts. The correct answer was to prevent kids from skipping school to go and buy the book. Compared to the difficult questions the team had to answer throughout this game, I thought this question would have been a piece of cake for the smart team.

Episode 3: The Video Game Geeks: Part 2 (Airdate: 11/6/2011)

On the third episode, the show picks up from the previous episode with the video gamers resuming their game. At this point, the team has won $360,000 and is only two questions away from winning $1,000,000. On the $600,000 level, the team struggled by incorrectly guessing the mystery object’s purpose. With three incorrect answers, the team answered their second $600,000 question confidently and even used their “Extra Time” help to make sure they had the right answer. Needless to say, the team answered the question correctly and won a cool $600,000, and more importantly the right to vote. The question at hand was whether to play it safe and keep the $600,000 or shoot the works and play for the million. One would think that the team would unanimously vote on bailing out with the money considering the team is only one incorrect answer away from losing it all and barely escaped with the money by the last question correctly. What would soon happen in the upcoming voting round would prove otherwise. With the questions getting tougher and with more money at risk and at stake, this would become the most crucial point in the game. After the votes were locked-in, it was revealed that five out of the six teammates voted to walk away with the cash. Unfortunately, Frank Toda stood by his philosophy that his team would play for the million no matter what and voted to play on. With his vote, he forced his team to abandon the $600,000 and play for the top prize. The audience, Frank’s teammates, and the host were all stunned, shocked, and surprised at Frank’s bold and confident decision. At the end of it all, even though the team swapped the million-dollar question for another one, the video gamers answered both questions wrong and left with nothing. This team losing $600,000 was more heart-wrenching to watch than Ken Basin losing $475,000 after answering his million-dollar question incorrectly on the final episode of Millionaire’s 10th Anniversary Special. I bet Frank wished that he could press the reset button to that game now to change his bold, yet boneheaded, vote.

In the next game, a team of female karate students and their teacher take their turn on the show. After starting the game off on the wrong foot by answering their first question incorrectly, the team answered three straight questions correctly and racked up $24,000. On the $48,000 level, the team had a difficult time fighting their way through this level after answering two more questions incorrectly, despite the fact that all three of their helps were available to them. After initially struggling on this level, the team finally answering their question correctly for $48,000 and unanimously decided to walk away with the money in the voting round after the question.

Episode 4: The U.S. Air Force (Airdate: 11/13/2011)

In the fourth episode, a team of members from the U.S. Air Force play for the big bucks. This episode was initially advertised to air after the second episode, but was held off to air in honor of Veteran’s Day, which occurred two days before the current airdate. About 40 minutes later after answering two questions incorrectly and using only one help, the Air Force team walked away with an incredible $210,000.  A pretty impressive game played by the Air Force team, in my opinion.

Episode 5: The University of Texas Alumni (Airdate: 11/20/2011)

In the fifth episode, a team of six University of Texas graduates play Million Dollar Mind Game. This young and energetic alumni team has vowed that they will not leave the show without some Texas-sized winnings. During the first half of their game, this Texas team gave us a reason why you don’t mess with Texas as they stampeded their way through the first six questions without using any helps. Sadly, the team’s flawless run came to a screeching halt as they struck out on the $210,000 level. After answering four straight questions incorrectly on that level, despite using their “Extra Time” and “Swap the Question” helps, the team left with nothing. This team played a terrific game and it was heartbreaking to see them lose the way they did.

Episode 6 (Season Finale): Pub Quiz Champions (Airdate: 11/27/2011)

In the final episode of the first season of Million Dollar Mind Game, a team of six pub quiz champions put their brilliant minds to the ultimate test in this game of logic and knowledge. One contestant who stands out in this group of six is Brad Rutter, Jeopardy’s biggest money winner and one of the few people to proudly say that he has beaten Ken Jennings on Jeopardy. During their game, this team proved why they are trivia champions after starting off strong by answering seven straight questions correctly without using any helps. Watching the first half of this episode was like déjà vu, as the University of Texas alumni team played the same way on the previous show. Before the team had a chance to see the $360,000 question, Vernon Kay mentioned that the team was playing a “perfect game”. One of the contestants quickly reminded Kay that it’s bad luck to say that a team or player was playing a “perfect game” while the game is still active. Perhaps Kay jinxed the team because they answered their first question incorrectly on the $360,000 after “the perfect game” comment was said. Despite the team’s minor struggle on the $360,000 level, the team of trivia buffs managed to walk away from the show $600,000 richer, with answering only one question incorrectly and using no helps. This team’s $600,000 win makes them this season’s biggest money winners.

The Pub Quiz champions’ performance on the show might be a tough act to follow, but not impossible. Hopefully, ABC will renew this awesome game show and place it in a better timeslot (preferably primetime on a weeknight). Maybe we will see a team who will be clever, shrewd, smart, and bold enough to conquer Million Dollar Mind Game!

One Comment Add yours

  1. arsilnik says:

    Nice article. I hope to see MDMG 2nd season. I'm fan of russian original (and russian competitive version), and i really enjoyed american show despite it quite different from russian.


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