December 24th, 2005


Deal or No Deal

"Deal Or No Deal" is the most interesting new game show we've had for a while in the UK. It's a format that has been used in countries on at least four continents, as lovingly compared and contrasted by brigbother. After months of speculation, Britain finally has its own version, stripped across the Channel 4 schedules from Monday to Saturday at 4:15pm. It also represents Noel Edmonds' return to TV, after the wheels fell off Noel's House Party years ago. I half-wrote this in early November and then let it go for weeks; as the US is having their version at the moment, this strikes me as the appropriate inspiration to finish the job off while it's at all relevant.

It's a fairly dumb show; at heart, it's Let's Make A Deal writ large. (UK readers, Take Your Pick writ large is even more accurate. Someone made that comparison before me and I can't remember who.) Nevertheless, there's something to it; it poses a few interesting questions about people's attitudes and expectations pertaining to winning. In short, a contestant is selected and wins a sum of money (in general). They have no control over how much; they have very little idea as to how much at the beginning, but during the show, they get more information. They are given six opportunities to swap their unknown prize for a known sum of cash, based on what the information is; by the end, it's heads-or-tails as to whether the sum of money is one known value or another known value. If they accept a known sum of cash, they win that much; if they reject all six offers, they win their original sum. Er, that's it.

It's the Crazy Frog of game shows.

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