The New Lingo Has Its F-L-A-W-S
Originally posted: June 10, 2011
(Text by: Jim Williams)
This week GSN debuted a revamped version of the
network's most successful original game show, Lingo. Gone are Shandi
Finnessey & Chuck Woolery and in are Bill Engvall & a possible $100,000
payoff. The following commentary looks at the good, the indifferent &
the true flaws of the new Lingo.
The game, at its core, is the same. Teams of two are solving 5 letter
words to outscore their opponents and make Lingos.
The game is played for money, which is good. Most winning teams will
amass $1,500 or more which isn't really that bad for guessing a few
Your mileage may vary, but I like the new bonus round. A maximum of 5
words (maximum of 5 guesses per word) is played in 90 seconds. Each
correctly guessed word is worth more money. Getting 1 word adds the
amount a team won in the main game to its bonus round bank. From there
the money doubles with each word correctly guessed. If a team can get
all 5 words in 90 seconds, they win $100,000. There are no clues in the
bonus round, and there are no bonus letters offered, which I think is
fair since they're shooting for a 6 figure payoff.
Bill Engvall, for a rookie, is a solid host. He knows when to inject
humor and bring out personality, and when to play it straight.
They opted to change the method of selecting of balls to a wall of
silver balls. It's change for the sake of change. I personally preferred
drawing balls from inside the podium, but it's not a deal breaker for
Prize balls are in the mix. In theory, this should be a good thing,
however it's possible that a game could come down to having a team get a
Lingo and on their final ball they could pull out a prize ball and go
away with just a prize.
Speaking of the balls, they have random numbers that have no set BINGO
logic. Others have explained to me it's akin to European BINGO, but it
still seems odd to me that someone can pull out a ball with an 88 on it.
Not a good or bad thing, just a head scratcher.
The winning team keeps the money they banked in the main game while the
losing team, unless they uncovered a prize ball at some point, will go
home with nothing. I'm indifferent on the matter since the Woolery
version offered nothing to the losing team, but it couldn't hurt for GSN
to give the losing team their bank as a consolation, could it?
As good of a host as Bill Engvall is, he doesn't explain the new
wrinkles to the game at the outset. It may seem like I'm nitpicking
here, but I've never been a fan of explaining a game as you go. This
probably is more a fault of the producers & directors than it is the
I'm not a comedy coach, but as a broadcaster, I'd like to think I know a
thing or two about good comedy. Game shows where comedic moments happen
spontaneously are almost always better than those where the comedy is
forced. Lingo has become a show with forced comedy. How? Clues are given
before each word in the main game that often have a zinger in them with
a sexual or crude connotation. Why? They do absolutely nothing. As a
matter of fact, they probably deter contestants from playing the game as
they would have in the past.
Finally, stop me if you've heard this before...contestant coordinators
for new game shows really are complete and utter asses. Instead of
looking for decent game players, they look for completely over the top
personalities and stereotypes. I have no problem with seeing a show here
or there with a team of "characters". It seems, however, that the powers
that be at Lingo are trying to put "characters" into every episode, and
it comes at the expense of the game. As a prime example, many of the
players I've seen so far haven't grasped the concept of how to play the
bonus round. You have to throw out guesses rapid fire to have any shot
at winning the jackpot. We've gone from Bonus Lingo contestants getting
between 7 & 10 words in 2 minutes to contestants not even getting 1 word
in 90 seconds. There's just no excuse for it.
The Final Verdict
Lingo is far from the worst thing on GSN. That title remains firmly
around the surgically altered waist of Wendy Williams & Love Triangle.
The new Lingo can be enjoyable, but it can also be annoying as hell
thanks largely to pointless clues & loud, obnoxious contestants with the
IQ of balsam wood.
That's my take on Lingo. What's yours? Let us know in The Game Show
Garbage Forums at
http://gameshowgarbage.proboards.com/ and we might post your opinion
in a future commentary here on Game Show Garbage.