As I have tweeted during the show’s premiere, Don’t is like watching a show with DVD commentary that you accidentally left on – and yet, you don’t mind it be it being on.
Don’t You Dare Miss This Game Show
On each episode of this misnomered game show that rewards contestants for not doing things, a team of four family members face a gauntlet of five games worth around $20,000 each. Throughout the show, teams also have a chance to win bonuses like doubling their total for any game if they perfectly complete a challenge by activating the “Don’t Touch” button or adding $5,000 to their bank by taking on a “Don’t You Dare” side bet. Teams could win more than $100,000.
On its surface, Don’t looks like a watered-down, single-player version of Ellen’s Game of Games with its outrageously massive and masochistic games and an equally massive $100,000 top prize. Upon a closer look, Don’t is one of those niche game shows that’s designed for a specific crowd like the television adaptation of You Don’t Know Jack.
From the from the unique and unusual mind of Ryan Reynolds, several of the humorous elements seen within the show such as his smarmy and sarcastic deadpan color commentary and the ridiculously random bits (e.g.: the continuing origin story of the “Don’t Push” button) are similarly seen in the 2016 Marvel movie Deadpool, also produced by Reynolds. (He even introduces his off-camera persona as the the antihero, like in Deadpool, during the intro in the first show.) His strange style of comedy makes Don’t worth watching from week to week to see what sort of interesting twists he adds in each episode, like the obscure retro reference to ABC’s Afterschool Special series seen before the first act break in the premiere episode. I also love how he gets the studio audience, contestants and show’s staff to play along with his gags and gimmicks.
Reynolds acting as the disembodied, omnipresent “Don’t Master” while creating short and slightly embellished backstory for the quartet of contestants is an odd but humorously clever way to keep viewers interested in how the family members’ personalities will factor in how well (or poorly) they play the game. It will keep you invested in each episode as if you were watching a short film.
To say the least, Adam Scott is a very surprising choice as host. Strangely enough, the way Scott hosts this show in such an awkwardly stoic manner is fitting and works quite well for an unconventional game show like Don’t.
The only change I would make to the format is adding an end game and giving the team the chance to earn a part of all of money they have accumulated in their bank on one final stunt rather than giving it to them outright throughout the show. The Don’t Push button could also dramatically raise the stakes in the final round by doubling the team’s entire bank or cut it in half. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but just something I’ve thought about how to end each episode on an exciting, climatic note.
Overall, Don’t is a fun family game show filled with creative and challenging physical and trivia games like “Don’t Get Tired”, “Don’t Miss A Beat” and “Don’t Talk To Strangers”. It has its own special charm that will keep you mildly entertained and amused from its random openings filled with a hybrid internal/external monologue by Reynolds down to families celebrating their five-figure winnings after completing their final body-bruising stunt. My personal favorite game so far is the simple yet slightly daunting 60-second, cash-draining “Don’t Blink” challenge. It’s yet another excellent addition to ABC’s summer lineup of game shows. However, if you’re not a fan of Ryan Reynolds’ antics coated in esoteric and existentialist references, there is a very good chance that you will be less than enthused with this show.
Rapid Review Score: 7.6/10
Prediction: I “don’t” think ABC will pass this comedic game show by after its first season.
Watch new episodes of Don’t Thursday nights at 9:00pm ET on ABC and catch up on the series on ABC.com!