Set Design- 7
Show Flow- 9
Potential Viewer Ratings- 6
Play-Along Factor- 10
Overall Rating- 7.5
Premise: Three contestants compete against each other in three trivia rounds with help from a different expert in each round. In round one, four multiple-choice questions are asked for 50 points each and the points double if the expert answers incorrectly. Round two plays similar to the first round with the exception of three questions are asked and the points are doubled to 100 points for correct answers and 200 points if the expert answers incorrectly. In the third round, three tougher questions are asked contestants now have the chance to answer based on the suggestion of the expert for 200 points or answer on their own for 400 points. The contestant with the most points at the end of three rounds wins $1,000 and advances to the bonus round.
In the end game, the champion faces one expert in a best-of-five contest. If the champion answers more questions correctly than the expert, (s)he wins $10,000. Win or lose, the contestant returns the following show as a returning champion. If the champion wins three bonus round, (s)he will become a resident trivia expert on a later episode.
Review: Even with game show great Ken Jennings gracing the show’s stage with his presence, Best Ever Trivia Show doesn’t quite live up to its superlative title.
What makes beat-the-expert game shows so fascinating and unique is having the ability to watch civilians have the chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to attempt to match wits with and outsmart some of the most astute quizzers and astounding athletes in the world for a handsome sum of money. It’s the reason why shows like Win Ben Stein’s Money, The Chase, Eggheads and American Gladiators became cultural phenomenons in the game show world and even why Beat The Geeks, Pawnography and the CBS version of Double Dare were so enjoyable to watch during their brief stints on the respective networks on which they aired.
Although we see a roster of trivia experts from veterans like Ken Jennings and Raj Dhuwalia who have won tens of thousands of dollars on quiz shows including Jeopardy! and the U.S. version of The Chase to quiz bowl champions like Muffy Marracco and Susannah Brooks, we see them play a more passive role for most of the show and the entirety of the front game on this new Game Show Network original series. The only time we see the experts actively compete against contestants is in the bonus round. It’s cool to see these trivia buffs flex their mental muscles in the game show arena on the show’s seemingly cool and casual atmosphere, but I would prefer if they were to play a more combative role against the opposition to genuinely see how they would truly measure up against the elites.
The front game features fun and challenging trivia questions and a round-by-round point structure that doesn’t allow a lot of room for error – even in the third round with 200 and 400 stakes. The contestants can’t simply rely on making a last-minute comeback in the third round and must consistently answer correctly throughout the main game in order to place themselves in a prime position to win this game. The $10,000 end game showdown is where we see the real action briefly take place and is somewhat similar to what you might have seen in the best-of-five final round on The Weakest Link.
Even though I have been largely critical of this show so far, I will say that there are two impressive redeeming element Best Trivia Show Ever has: returning champions and the chance for contestants to become a resident expert on future episodes. The latter is an incentive that is rarely offered on competitive series and is a game show fanatics dream come true. The only two shows that come to mind that have offered a residency on a game show is the NBC revival of American Gladiators and BBC Two’s Make Me An Egghead.
The concept of returning champions is something I truly miss in today’s era of game show and was a welcome surprise when I first viewed the show last week. As brilliantly exhibited on Jeopardy! with James Holzhauer’s ridiculously remarkable run, returning champions gives viewers an incentive to watch additional episodes and provides a subtle storyline that gives you a reason to root for or against certain contestants as if you were watching a football game or a drama series. I haven’t seen a Game Show Network game show with carryover elements like that since Lingo had its progressive jackpot starting in 2005.
Overall: I have mixed feelings about this show, but I think Best Ever Trivia Show should be renamed A Marginally Decent Trivia Show. With the show’s simple format and special appearances by revered trivia stars along with Sherri Shepard’s warm and comedic presence on show and is no stranger to hosting game shows as she was the former host of GSN’s version of The Newlywed Game from 2010-2013, I believe it’s good enough for a second season.