Sunday, May 02, 2010


We Americans love our Silly Shit. If you doubt that, just turn on the TeeVee any Sunday evening, when you can see the spiky-haired Guy Fieri hosting the latest silly-ass game show, “Minute to Win It.”

The show is simplicity itself. A contestant is given an increasingly difficult series of stunts to perform, with sixty seconds to perform each one successfully. Get the job done and you win prize money; screw up enough times and you go home unhappy. The stunts are fairly uncomplicated tasks, usually involving some sort of physical dexterity or coordination; props are basic items like playing cards, plastic cups, and ping-pong balls. The Philip Glass-like music that plays while the robotic-voiced female announcer explains each task is a surprisingly high-toned bonus.

Of course, all of this has been done before... and on a much lower budget. I’m referring to the vintage TV game show “Beat the Clock,” in which contestants were given sixty seconds to perform various stunts with props that usually consisted of simple household items. “Beat the Clock” was a television fixture in its original run from 1950 to 1961, a time when contestants would actually get foam-at-the-mouth excited about the prospect of winning a C-note. But in American popular culture, everything old shall be new again... and so we have “Minute to Win It.” It’s the closest thing we have to an authentic Japanese game show (except for “I Survived A Japanese Game Show,” which is really a meta-gameshow). To make MTWI more authentic, all the producers need to do is add a liberal dose of Contestant Humiliation. They’d really have something then.

I have no idea whether the show is any kind of success. Given the continuing devolution of the National Taste, however, I suspect the producers are printing money by the ream.

Personally, I’d prefer to watch Guy Fieri in his native Food Network environment, pounding down monster portions of Diner Food and popping his patented Shit Eatin’ Grin at the camera. But that’s just me.

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