Set Design- 5
Show Flow- 7
Potential Viewer Ratings- 7
Play-Along Factor- 9
Overall Rating- 7.8
Premise: A single contestants dates three guests throughout a course of a week. Once the studio audience views a brief introduction video for each guest, the audience votes on which guest is best suited for the contestant. Once the contestant enters the show, Cohen interviews the contestant and all three dates, one at a time. During each interview, the contestant and guests reveal what rating they would give their date based on first impressions. After all three interviews, the contestant selects which guest they prefer to take out on a second date. If the contestant’s selection matches the audience’s majority choice, it’s a “love connection” and the contestant and guest win a vacation getaway for their second date plus $10,000. If the contestant fails to match the audience, the contestant has the choice to either go on a second date vacation with their pick or opt to go with the audience’s selection and win $10,000. Two games are played on each episode.
This review will partially revolve around the opening spiel from the original version of “Love Connection”:
“Welcome to Love Connection, where old-fashioned romance meets modern day technology. Where you’ll hear all the intimate details of a first date.”
Keep this in mind while reading through the first half of this review, which mainly consists of the negative aspects of the revival.
Let’s start with opening. In past seasons of the once popular syndicated series, the animated intros – which often displayed dancing hearts, characters exchanging glances through screens and screenshots of singles’ reactions while they divulging the details of their dates – were and creatively designed to perfectly sum up the premise of the show and instantly gauge the viewer’s interest. The recognizable and iconic opening is one of those minor, seemingly insignificant details fans of the original version remember fondly and would like to see in a revival, similar to the “Come on Down” opening sequence on The Price Is Right, accompanied by chasing lights that border the screen. Not only was there an opening that failed to resemble the ones from years past, but the producers did not even bother to create one. The lackluster intro showed nothing more than the opening credits and the digital drawbridge lowering with Andy Cohen walking out. It was lazy, uninspiring and disappointingly off-putting. Perhaps we’ll see at the very least a highlight reel compiled of some of the embarrassing, shocking and endearing moments created for the intro during the middle of the season.
Speaking of off-putting, the saxophone-infused theme music that game show fans are well familiar with when reminiscing about the classic version was nowhere to be found in this edition. The basic, bland, boiler plate theme did not sound any different than any other music used for a panoply of other modern primetime game shows. They could have at least remixed the original music, but I digress.
Due to our ever-increasing tech-savvy society and the ubiquity of dating apps and websites, Love Connection lost its uniqueness: being one of only dating game shows to combine (as stated in the spiel) old-fashioned romance with modern technology. This version of Love Connection does not stand out as prominently from nearly every other dating show today because of it.
It is very difficult nowadays to find a primetime game show that does not utilize a dark set. Gone are the days were stages were brightly lit, colorful and full of personality. This set is not much different from others seen on various other shows such as ABC’s Millionaire, Deal or No Deal or 500 Questions. Although the enlarged and elongated digital displays are vibrant and impressive, the rest of the dimly-lit set leaves much to be desired.
Although there are a few minor elements within the show that I did not particularly care for, there are a few revisions in FOX’s Love Connection that makes it worth checking out.
Because FOX’s primetime edition does not run daily, it makes perfect sense for the central single contestant to date all three single contenders in the same week. This unique kink is reminiscent of what the dating game show Studs (hosted by legendary Sale of The Century champion Mark DeCarlo) had similarly done back in its heyday. This twist adds more entertainment and gives us more of a glimpse of the main contestant’s likes, dislikes and personality. This addition also enhances the show from an interactivity viewpoint and greatly increases the play-along factor from simply guessing whom the audience selected to also predicting which of the three contenders the main contestant chose and which option they selected should the round wind down to the love-or-money decision.
This perfectly segues to my next favorite aspect of the show. This season, we see a new element thrown into the mix that we have not seen since perhaps NBC’s For Love or Money: forcing a contestant into a dichotomous dilemma by choosing a second date vacation getaway with their selected suitor or a cash prize (plus a date with the audience’s selection). This wrinkle undoubtedly creates more intrigue, suspense and slightly more drama to see if a person is willing to forfeit a potentially lifelong romantic relationship with whomever they had selected in lieu of fleeting financial gain.
The veteran television personality is the ideal host for a dating show like Love Connection. Per usual, Cohen does a fantastic job of interviewing the guests in a casual, outgoing and natural manner. Although the interviews are not as lengthy compared to the original version, Cohen makes the most of it anyway by ensuring to get all of the pertinent, juicy first date details. I also love how he does not shy away from asking honest, follow-up questions pertaining to the guest and/or contestant’s questionable, eyebrow-raising behavior while dishing the details of their date, nor does he mind stirring the pot a little by injecting a few quips and jokes just for kicks and giggles.
Although there are cosmetic improvements that need to be mad, such as the music, the introduction and not designing the set to look like the inside of a villain’s electronically elaborate lair, Love Connection’s solid format pretty much stays true to the original without ruining it with the additional tweaks this version brings and the host selection is superb. A few of the other impressive elements that stood out were the selfie interview videos featuring the individuals describing positive and/or negative highlights from their date, allowing the single candidates to rate each other (which brilliantly adds subtle sexual tension and sometimes humorous and awkward moments during the interviews), and the quick recap of the end results of the two couples vacation getaway. In the original, we typically did not see couples return to the show to discuss the details of how their lives have been since the show first united them.
With Beat Shazam as a decent lead-in, Love Connection should have no problems ratings wise and I believe FOX will bring this back for a second season along with Beat Shazam (which I will cover in my next review). I have more faith in this pair of primetime game shows receiving renewals than the last pair which premiered last summer (BOOM! & Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?).