October 23, 2007

Millionaire is back.. slightly modified but still much the same

Posted in Nine Network at 9:51 am by Give Me The Remote

Last night was the first installment of the new Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I had actually forgotten to switch this on until I heard the familiar strains of the opening sequence and then Eddie McGuire’s fight night voice welcoming all and sundry. So I flicked it on.

Eddie McGuire with Millionaire Rob Fulton

All actually seems very familiar with the old format. A couple of small changes though. The game now goes up to a $5 million jackpot, which works by simply adding another question to the end worth that amount. So question 15 is still worth $1 million but is no longer the top amount. Simple enough. The other (actually quite interesting) change is an addition to the lifelines. If the contestant gets to the 2nd safe level of $32 000, a new lifeline appears called ‘switch’ (i think), which basically says to Eddie – ‘I don’t like this question give me another one.’ So that’s a pretty nifty idea. Unfortunately, however, nobody got to this level and so we didn’t get to see it in action. This leads me to what I see as a major problem in the format.

In the past, 10 contestants were auditioned to be on the show and of course they were all absolute smarties due to the little examination they had to get through to make the grade. At this point, each of the 10 would vie for the hotseat by playing the fastest finger first game. No more! The new millionaire contestants are ‘chosen’, sort of Backyard Blitz stylem if you know what I mean. They seem to have chosen people who have undergone hardship or have a real excuse for wanting the money. So people who weren’t adopted or are without cancer need not apply. Being chosen in this way means that generally the intelligence level has decreased significantly from the older game. These aren’t smart people. Just average. The questions should either get easier or no where near as much money is going to be given away (how unfortunate for nine).

The show is also live now and goes for 90 minutes. Which is too long. Sixty minutes is enough thanks – I looked at my watch 5 times during the last half hour. Apparently there is also some sort of ‘cattle-call’ sound that Ed will play now if the contestants are taking too long, but it didn’t happen last night.

An interesting thing I found about last night was Eddie’s insistence on showing to us that the show was recorded live by talking up recent events. Okay Ed we believed you when you said it was live, you don’t need to bring up last night worm debacle a gazillion times.

Another laughable Eddie moment came in the cross-promotion of the new show Viva Laughlin (or ‘Lofflin’ as Eddie likes to call it), which follows Millionaire. Eddie starts by being honest and admitting that the show has absolutely been canned as possibly ‘the worst show on television’. Then he continues, and ‘but wait I’ve seen it and it’s actually really good. and i’m not just trying to sell the show.’ (not his exact words, can’t remember) You are trying to sell the show! Why else have you brought it up. It doesn’t mean a thing whether you actually like it or not, you are talking it up on your program for a reason. You’re plugging it!

Viva Laughlin

Anyway, overall it was good to see Millionaire back and somewhat faster paced. The format is easy to follow and fun. It really is a cracker of a show. I definitely see it going back to the 8:30-9:30 in the future, live or otherwise. 7 until 8:30 is just strange. But I’m guessing nine doesn’t have any suitable lead in programs to go 7:30-8:30 that they’re confident will deliver justifiable numbers going in.

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