"The $100,000 Pyramid" (2016 ABC Revival) Review

Set Design- 10
Gameplay- 9
Show Flow- 10 
Potential Viewer Ratings- 9
Play-Along Factor- 10
Host- 8
Overall Rating- 9.3

Premise: Two teams comprised of a celebrity and a civilian contestant compete against each other in a series of three rounds. In the front game, teams must select one of the six categories and the clue giver will have 30 seconds to get their partner to guess seven words/items correctly. In the second game, one of the categories is secretly designated as the “Mystery 7” category. If selected, the contestant will have a chance to win a bonus trip if they can correctly guess the seven words in the category without being told what all the words have in common. The team with the highest score after three rounds wins a trip to the Winner’s Circle. Should a tie occur, the winner is the team who achieved the point total in the fastest, combined time.

In the Winner’s Circle bonus round, the clue giver will have 60 seconds to get their partner to guess six categories by giving a list of items that would fit within the category without being too descriptive. The respective dollar amounts for each category is as follows: $1,000; $1,500; $2,000; $3,000; $4,000; $5,000. Guessing all six categories correctly in 60 seconds wins the contestant $50,000 upon the first trip and $100,000 if they return for a second time.

A contestant could win as much as $150,000 (excluding Mystery 7 prize).

And now, for the review:

When GSN revived the big money word association game show in 2012 with The Pyramid, I didn’t think we would see a better recreation of the classic format to air in the 2000s and beyond – until ABC premiered its version on Sunday night. The producers have done an exceptionally, stellar job of recapturing the excitement and energy of the game than any other revival I’ve seen within the past 25 years from selecting competitive, energetic contestants and celebrities who are well adept in playing the game (best exhibited in the Kathy Najimy/Rosie O’ Donnell episode) to signing on an excellent and amiable host in Michael Strahan, who keeps the show flowing at a smooth, fluid pace while quickly building a great rapport with the contestants and celebrities. This edition of Pyramid retained a lot of the elements from the original while enhancing a few to make the show stand out, including the inflated $50,000/$100,000 Winner’s Circle grand prizes and category values (adding up to a generous $16,500), the slightly revamped theme music and other cues, the new set and new tiebreaker rules.

Although I had given The Pyramid set design a perfect 10 out of 10, I would be remiss if I didn’t give this version the props it deserves by grading the set anything less than a 10. The $100,000 Pyramid set, albeit small, is perfectly prepped for primetime. The one onstage element that won me over and compensated for the shrunken set is the return of the revolving trilions and infusing monitors with them. Bring back the manually-oped trilions may not be a big deal to regular viewers, but it is greatly appreciated by hardcore game show fans like myself because it subtly gives the new version a classic feel while maintaining its contemporary look.

The only problem I have with the show is the elimination of the tiebreaker. While The Pyramid improved the ancillary round with its “no-limit“ twist, The $100,000 Pyramid completely omitted the tiebreaker, which does take away from the original game’s competitiveness. However, that aspect is slightly regained through the new cumulative, time-based tie-breaking rules by forcing the teams to guess their words as quickly as possible. It does add an element of high-pressured tension during the game and suspense when a tie arises. I can see the producers making the call to remove the extra round in the interest of time given this is airing on primetime network television. This change is far from a deal-breaker.

Overall, I have nothing but praise and adulation for the 2016 incarnation of The $100,000 Pyramid. Unlike Pyramid in the early 2000s, the producers did not stray from the tried-and-true format and have accomplished their task in successfully re-creating the environment and experience of the long-running game show for television today. Bob Stewart, the original creator of The $10,000 Pyramid, would be proud of this rendition of the classic series. The $100,000 Pyramid is already off to a surprisingly amazing start by leading all 17 Sunday primetime programs among total viewers (8.09 million viewers) and Adults 18-49 (1.7 rating). I firmly believe The $100,000 Pyramid will be back for a second season on ABC.

Stay tuned for new episodes of The $100,000 Pyramid Sunday nights at 9:00pm and 9:30pm ET on ABC!
**All screenshots have been taken from the actual episodes of The $100,000 Pyramid.  No ownership is implied.**
Additional sources: TV By The Numbers, YouTube
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