Before I commence the blog’s annual Top 10 Moments of 2017, I’ve decided to do something different this year. In addition to unilaterally assembling the countdown list, I will introduce the site’s first-ever countdown of the five best new game shows of the year. We’ve seen a lot of fun and fresh new shows (Funderdome, Emogenius, iWitness) and we’ve also seen some clunkers that should be left behind when the new year arrives (Snap Decision, Candy Crush, Big Star Little Star). This list includes game shows that officially premiered in 2017 (not counting “sneak peek” episodes that may have aired in 2016 prior to the debut) and revivals as well. Click on hyperlinked titles if you want to check out any past episodes of the shows mentioned (with the exception of the first show listed).
With two seasons under its belt, Divided is one of the more intriguing and controversial game shows to debut this year. Based on the ITV game show of the same name, the GSN series groups four strangers in a team and they must work together answering multiple-choice questions in a unanimous manner while facing the pressures locking-in their answer in the midst of the dwindling money clock. Correct answers add money to the bank and incorrect answers deplete their bank by half. At the end of the show, the remaining three contestants must unanimously decide who gets which portion of the bank (60%, 30%, 10%) or risk going home with considerably less or even worse – nothing. Although I don’t care for the fact that this game show (fronted by The Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal producer Mike Richards) purposely aims to bring out the absolute worst qualities in people, here are a few reasons why Divided is an interesting social experimental program:
- The inclusion of thought-provoking opinion poll questions to invoke brief and interesting topics of discussions (e.g.: Allowing daily prayer in classrooms, which areas do communities believe their local police has failed them, what do black Americans consider the most important problems facing this country)
- Format keeps contestants on their toes throughout the entire game by placing a strict emphasis on teamwork, decisiveness, compromise and accuracy
- Good casting of combining strangers with varying, diverse backgrounds into teams to see how they can work in a cohesive manner despite their dissenting opinions (e.g.: partnering a transgendered individual with a Trump supporter)
#4: Fear Factor
After a five-year hiatus, MTV decided to bring back the hit NBC competitive reality show from the dead. This edition of Fear Factor debuted during the spring this year with rapper/actor Ludacris taking the helm this time around and a slightly redesigned format catered to millennial audiences. In addition to casting younger contestants, the other major change that was made in this version was tailoring each round in a specific manner. The first round, Beat The Beast, focuses on conquering fears of insects, reptiles and other creepy crawlies. The second round, Face Your Fear, purposefully forces the remaining contestants face a fear they all have in common. The third round, The Final Fear, is simply an extreme physical stunt which usually includes accomplishing a task while being submerged underwater for an extended period of time, on top of a towering skyscraper or maneuvering across a tractor-trailer ferociously driving on a test track. Not only was Fear Factor renewed during its first season, the season premiere of the show set an MTV record for the highest-rated premiere in two years among young adults (18-34) with its total viewership clocking in at 936,000.
Produced by Wanda Sykes and hosted by Guy Branum, this is one of the more interesting and unique game show hybrids I have ever seen, fusing a game show with a talk show. Talk Show The Game Show has the same entertainment appeal as ITV’s 3-2-1 (game/quiz/variety show) and The WB’s Studio 7 (reality/game show). This show strikes an excellent balance between the talk show portion with the three three-minute interviews of the night’s guests and cleverly executing the gaming portion during the interviews, post-interview “Jimmy Fallon-esque” mini-games and the subjective head-to-head end game without compromising either aspect. The new truTV game show successfully satirizes the superficiality of mainstream late-night talk shows by humorously awarding or penalizing guest stars for excessive name-dropping, plugging their latest projects or products, telling funny anecdotes, etc. Talk Show The Game Show is one of the more underappreciated game shows I’ve seen recently and I’m glad it will be returning February 1 on truTV.
#2: Beat Shazam
The freshman FOX game show proved itself as the most successful modern attempt at reviving the Name That Tune format from the jump. The network paired this show alongside its decent Love Connection revival during the summer. The brilliance of the game show lies within its simplicity (although they could have done more with the redundant format, but I digress) by simply guessing the song that’s playing within a matter of seconds. The show’s main draw is somewhat similar to what makes Wheel of Fortune so appealing to a variety of viewers: it’s easy to play along at home by quickly identifying titles to some of the latest and greatest pop culture hit songs spanning across several genres and decades. Jamie Foxx is the second reason why Beat Shazam is so fun to watch. Foxx is humorous, music-savvy and ad-libs well off of contestants’ responses.
#1: The Joker’s Wild
Not only do I believe this was the best new game show this year, I have no qualms in deeming The Joker’s Wild as the best game show revivals of 2017 as well. Michael Strahan and company excellently revamped this classic program for modern, younger viewers to enjoy. They made the perfect call in developing the show around Snoop Dogg, from the categories thematically named after the emcee to the nightclub casino atmosphere the show attempts to capture with the creative set design. As I had stated in my review, the TBS version tops the 90’s syndicated version (hosted by Pat Finn of Shop ‘Til You Drop fame) by a mile, mostly by retaining several key elements from the original 1972 version, including the slot machine design, the “Beat The Devil” bonus game and the front game format. For at least half its ten-episode season, The Joker’s Wild has ranked in the Top 10 of top 150 cable telecasts on Tuesdays among the key Adults 18-49 demographic. We should be seeing a second season of this show on TBS.
Stay tuned for TBIR’s 2017 Top 10 Countdown List later today (or tomorrow)!