TV Reviews: Million Dollar Money Drop and Onion Sports Dome
Million Dollar Money Drop
I'll watch any knowledge-based game show at least once. And I especially like shows where the questions are too difficult for someone to reasonably know them, so instead they have to use logical reasoning to narrow down the choices and strategies to hedge their risks. Million Dollar Money Drop perfectly fits this description.
Pairs of contestants (usually married couples) start off with a million dollars of cash to bet. (The money is in stacks of 1000 $20s, which are approximately six inches thick.) They are asked multiple choice questions where each answer is represented by a table. They have to physically move the piles of money onto the tables in a limited amount of time. They can split their money up, but they have to leave at least one table empty. (In early rounds there are four tables/answers and in later rounds there are three.)
Once time runs out, trap doors open up beneath all the wrong answers, and the cash literally falls away. Then they use the money that was on the correct answer for the next round. They only have a limited amount of time to discuss the answers and place the cash, and often contestants panic as time runs short. Since they have to leave one table empty, they could theoretically lose everything on any question. Contestants often split up the money among multiple answers if they don't know which one is right. That guarantees that they'll lose a big chunk of their money, but makes it less likely that they'll lose all of it. This makes the strategy a lot more interesting because risk management becomes key to the game.
If they make it the 7th and last question with some money left, they have to risk it all on one final question. (With two potential answers.)
The questions are so difficult that in the approximately ten episodes I've seen, only two pairs of contestants have won anything. And they only won $20,000 and $40,000 respectively, which means their 50 stacks of cash had dwindled to one and two stacks. All the other contestants lost everything.
I have two quibbles with the show: The first is that they insist on editing so that each pair of contestants is one entire hour-long episode. (If they make it to at least the fifth question.) This means that they often have a lot of padding, so you should DVR it and fast-forward through the crap. It's also a huge spoiler. If there's 20 minutes left in the episode, you know they contestants aren't going to lose on that question. It would be much better if they just didn't try to match contestants to episodes. Most other game shows of variable length will pause the game and have the contestant come back next episode, or introduce a new contestant in the middle of an episode. I don't get why MDMD doesn't do the same thing.
The other quibble is that it's a bit disappointing for most contestants to walk away with absolutely nothing. I think it would be reasonable to give those who make it to the final question 10% of their total if they get it wrong.
But still, I highly recommend this show to game show fans.
As a side note, E and I have started calling it Million Dollar Monkey Drop. We've debated over whether that would be "Answer this question or we'll drop this adorable monkey off a cliff," or "Answer this question or we'll drop this angry monkey on your head." Feel free to make your own suggestions.
The Onion Sports Dome
This is a spoof of Sportscenter and sports in general from The Onion. It's hard for me to figure out how to describe it. But I'll just say it's hilarious. Judging by the first episode, I'd say it's the funniest show currently on TV. And that's true even if you don't care about sports.
Of course it's always possible there could be a huge drop in quality from the first episode, but I hope that won't be the case.
Anyway, you should absolutely go watch this. I guarantee you'll laugh, or I'll give you your money back. (Offer only valid for those who spend $0 or less.)