GSN: (October 1998 - October 2001)
It comes as no surprise that whenever says the words "GSN Original" to someone who is currently watching the network, they could be shuddering in fear because they just saw an episode of either Hidden Agenda or Carnie Wilson: Unwatchable...I mean Unstapled. Although both of those shows sucked to no end, they aren't the first, and they most certainly won't be the last GSN originals to be god-awful. The current heads of GSN have nothing on the original inept leader of GSN that was Michael Fleming. His long line of failures can be attributed to the fact that he's taken the Vince Russo approach of TV programming, in that being he just threw crap on the air just to see what stuck. Although he did have a couple of programs that stuck in Hollywood Showdown and another that escapes my memory at this point, one of his first was not only one of the worst programs for GSN, it was also one of the most boring programs in the networks history. Prepare to be witness to an Inquizition.
The host of this guy was known as the "Inquizitor". To this date, the identity of the "Inquizitor" is still unknown. According to Wikipedia, some names that have popped up as to who the "Inquizitor" are Brent Williams and actor William Bassett. Another name that was thought to be the "Inquizitor" was Bob Stewart, the producer Sande Stewart's dad. Although, eye witness accounts from a couple of contestants can confirm that it wasn't Bob Stewart who played the role of the "Inquizitor." But back to the "Inquizitor" Himself. His hosting style was something completely fresh for its time. Instead of calling the contestants by their first names, he would often refer to them in a gentlemanly fashion, such as Miss Jackson or Mr. Gutierrez. Not only that, he was Anne Robinson before Anne Robinson even came on TV as hostess of The Weakest Link. He would often or not chide the contestants for their stupidity or not pressing the button to lock in their answer in time. I honestly wish his identity was known, so I could meet him and shake his hand. For this type of show, he was a good host. But, just like what we saw with How Much Is Enough, a good host can only take a show so far.
The Game itself is what drags this game down, down down. The game is a direct copy of the UK and US game show, 100%. Which, is a game show I will have to take on in the future. The show has 4 people answer random questions asked by Mr. Happy himself. He gives a statement and three choices such as..."Baseball's David Justice was once married to .......A. Halle Berry, B. Naomi Campbell, C. None of the Above." The contestants would have 3 seconds to lock in their answer. If they are correct, they earn 1 point. A missed answer or if the contestant doesn't lock in an answer within the time limit, they get no points. The game continues until a bell sounds and the person with the lowest score is eliminated from the game. How are they eliminated you ask?
Well, unlike the cool way they were eliminated in Russian Roulette, they simply turn around and the screen fades to white, and an ominous sound plays. Haunting, I will grant them, but it just seems so cheesy.
Now, when I originally saw this show, I thought, that was a great set. Imagine my disappointment when I found out from a contestant experience that the entire set was done on a blue screen in a tiny studio. I commend Sande Stewart for his ingenuity, but I honestly do with a real set was used, instead of copping out and using a blue screen and paying a graphic designer a couple hundred bucks to come up with something menacing to use.
Round 2 plays like round 1, just with one less contestant. I honestly wish they could do something, like making C another real choice or maybe add a fourth choice, like what Russian Roulette did. Instead, the show is just acting like those lame Family Channel Interactive Games that were on in 1994 like Boggle, Jumble & Shuffle. It's just so draining to watch and the only reason you'd watch is to see how the "Inquizitor" insults the contestants or his snide comments. So, the show becomes more of an exercise in torment and torture for the contestants who in order to survive have to answer questions in a short amount of time and under, supposed, daunting circumstances by a blue screen & a evil bastard of a host. It just gets boring after awhile.
Round 3...I should just copy the above paragraph and make it easy on myself. It's exactly like the last 2 rounds, but after this round, the winner is crowned and the loser is quickly told to get lost. The grand prize for this torment? $250. Really? $250 for standing there and being bombarded with a ton of questions that are sometimes harder than the top tier on Millionaire? At least the grand prize should have been 4 figures. Although in Season 2, they upped the grand prize to $500, it was still very cheap. The consolation prize? A phone card...a damned phone card. Couldn't they have given them at least a copy of the Greatest TV Game Show Themes CD that was completely overstocked in the Warehouse? I mean at least they could get some enjoyment out of that.
And at the end of the show, the "Inquizitor" leaves the "Torture Chamber" and cackles menacingly.
So now, that ends probably the 2nd most boring game show of GSN's history. The heavily repeated gameplay drains me more than normal, the set is fake, and the payouts are laughably cheap. It's something that would be found on a local TV station instead of GSN. This would go on for 3 Seasons before finally being sent to the torture chamber itself and put out of its misery in 2001.
Sadly, this wouldn't be the last horrible show to be on GSN. The long list of failures would continue for GSN and Michael Fleming; Such failures he did were Extreme Gong, Burt Luddin's Love Buffet, All New 3's a Crowd & Throut & Neck. Thankfully, his reign over GSN ended in 2001 to be replaced by Rich Cronin, who actually made some good GSN originals in Whammy, Lingo, Russian Roulette & High Stakes Poker.
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