Temptation: The New Sale of the Century

Lots of love? Prizes that only women want? Rossi Morreale? Rolonda Watts announcing? NO SALE!

Syndication: (September 2007 - September 2008)

I'm an 80s kid.  So when I got home from school, I parked my butt in front of the TV and I watched one of the best game shows, not only for its time, but the world over in Sale of the Century.  Back then, the show had everything that made game shows great.  A fantastic host in Jim Perry, a beautiful hostess in both Lee Menning and Summer Bartholomew (Sally Julian was too out there for my tastes), excellent announcers in Jay Stewart and Don Morrow, a bright and rich gold set, and thousands of dollars and cash and prizes at the ready to be dolled out to smart contestants.

It's original run lasted 6 1/4 years, and lasted about that long in USA Reruns, alongside its sister show, Scrabble.  It's fondly remembered by the game show fanbase as one of the best game shows out there.  So, the buzz was huge that Fremantle decided to bring it back in 2007.  There was high hopes for this show and everybody hoped it would be a huge hit.  Maybe the show would start a new trend of revivals in syndication.  Unfortunately, what we got was the quintessential example on how NOT to revive a game show.

So, for all the Game Show Garbage fans out there, I present to you Temptation: The New Sale of the Century.

Where shall we start when talking about this disaster?  How about Rossi Morreale.  His first appearance on TV, as far as I recall was on G4's Sweat alongside pro soccer player Cobi Jones.  They would break down what was going on in the vast world of sports games, namely Madden, MLB 2k3 among others.  He also was ranked a few times in People's yearly Sexiest Man Alive list.  Unfortunately, all of the sex appeal that he had according to people couldn't save his hide when it came to hosting a game show.  Not only was he mainly a big teleprompter reader, he also looked, felt and was practically very uncomfortable up there.  Another thing that irked me about him was that he really didn't seem to care about the show.  But then again, that falls on the producers, who were reported to have done Marathon sessions of tapings, upwards of to 12-14 shows a day because they wanted to beat the fast approaching writers strike that was happening in mid-november.

I don't talk much about the announcers for the show, since they normally range from mediocre to excellent, but in this case, I gotta mention Rolanda Watts.  Her announcing style could be best described as that annoying hair stylist that talks a lot without saying mainly anything.  Not only that, she's part of Oprah's Inner Circle, so whenever I hear of one of them falling hard, always gets me in good spirits.  But Rolanda on this show always said the prizes that, "You know you deserve the quality and performance" or "Girl, it's all about the Gucci, Prada, you name it!" Stuff like that made most viewers cringe.

So, Bad hosting: Check, Bad Announcing: Check, now.  Let's talk Format.

The format of the show was so haphazardly put together that it isn't funny.  You'll see that it rips off no less than 5 other game shows.  The show starts off with a speed round of questions, ripping off The Challengers usual start off point.  The contestants start off with $20 Dollars....Wait, I'm sorry, there's no actual cash on this show.  It's Temptation Dollars, which are non-transferrable outside of the soundstage they were on.  So, already we're on the cheap.  The speed round lasts for 30 seconds of straightforward questions.  5 Temptation Dollars for a right answer, 5 off for a wrong answer.  The person in the lead after the speed round gets to buy an Instant Bargain, which instead of a few dings, which sounded good, is now just the last 3 notes of the theme song, making it cheaper than having another sound effect.

The prizes themselves, were aimed towards the girl side of the spectrum.  Mainly they were handbags, chocolates, dayspa trips, makeup.  Not to mention, we get to hear Rolonda and her banshee voice talking about "I Feel Pretty about this makeup!"  And the already afformentioned Deserving of quality.  Another thing is that all of the the Instant Bargains had to have names or some annoying banner down below saying what they are.  It also doesn't help that they over-price the bargain price by about 10 Temptation dollars at the start of the game.  Also, you have Rossi reading taglines on his little card, making his hosting more disingenuous than before.

IN the old days, Jim Perry would end instant bargains by his siren call of "GOING ONCE, GOING TWIIIICEEEEEEEE!!!!  NO SALE!!!"  Rossi, doesn't even do that.

For more cheap effects, you get this pathetic countdown clock.  It just doesn't have the same oomph and feel that Jim Perry's line does.  After this, we have Ripoff moment #2...The Fame Game.

Now, the old Fame Game would have Jim reading a small bio about a person, place or thing in the third person  The first person that would buzz in with the right answer gets a pick at the fame game board.  What happens in this version?

They rip off Wheel Of Fortune's Toss-up Puzzles with letters appearing on the board while Rossi blandly reads off facts.  The first person to solve the puzzle wins 15 temptation dollars.  Ugh, I don't want to continue anymore.  I need a commercial break.

DAMNIT!  Apparently, since they couldn't be arsed to make money with a real game show, they rip off Every single home shopping game show from 1987 by selling prizes that would be featured on the show on their website called As Seen On Temptation or by simply calling a pathetic toll-free number.  Yeah, they annoyed us with that on Bargain Hunters, Home Shopping Game and Shoppers Casino...well everything about that show was annoying, but nevertheless, they have it here. 

It doesn't get any better when the next round is a big ripoff of another 80s classic in Wipeout.  It rips off their Challenge round with 12 possible answers.  But instead of 8 right answers and 4 wrong ones.  9 are the real thing and 3 are what they call Knock-offs, just to add to the feminization of the show about fake fashions or jewelry, that sort of thing.  Each answer is worth a varying amount of money based on how obscure the answer is.  While it's not bad, it's not really that good either.  Definitely not an original idea here.

We get another Instant Bargain and more Rossi patheticness, then it's time for another speed round.

Now we're ripping off Dis or Dat from You Don't Know Jack.  Still same speed round rules apply.  Rossi reads off a person, place or thing, and then they have to choose Dis or Dat, or one of the two answers that are shown.  I sense a pattern here.  But same as the first speed round, 5 up for a right answer, 5 down for a wrong one.  Then we get to Instant Cash.

Well, Instant Cash in the old days has 3 boxes, two boxes have $100, the other box has $1,000 to start and it goes up by $1,000 each day until it's hit. It cost the amount of the leaders lead to go for it, but more often than not it was a risk people were willing to take, especially when the jackpot reached above $8,000 or so. I think the maximum it was at before someone hit it was $16,000 and it was hit a couple times at that amount.

Now I know what you're asking, how cheaply did they mess this one up.

VERY!  Rossi brings out 3 wallets that look like they were dug out from the archives of Jackpot!  2 of the wallets, in different collors, whether they be White, Red or Brown, have $100.  The other one has their jackpot which starts, not at $1,000 but only $500 and goes up by $500 each time it's missed, until it hits a maximum of $5,000.  I mean, that makes no sense.  You want people to go for it, so it creates the urgency of seeing someone win big off of it.  Capping it at $5,000 makes it seem like it's no big deal.  And the way the amount is shown in the wallets is nothing short of cheap as well.  It's like they took a piece of paper, cut it out and had $100 or whatever in red ink.  That just screams lazy.

Then to add to the laziness, we have another speed round but this time it's 10 for a right answer and -10 for a wrong answer.  Then the person in the lead wins, and brings her, or in the super-rare case, his winnings to shopper's paradise.  What Irks me more is that the departing contestants get nothing except "Lots Of Love" from Rossi.  Speaking of cheap, he seems like the type of guy that woos you, but instead just takes you to Denny's.  Anyways, now to Shoppers Paradise.

Now, let's see how they do Shopper's Paradise.

So far so good, it's like the shopping format.  X amount of Temptation Dollars buys Y.  Like $92 buys a $2,000 TV.

Whereas the car is worth $850-935 or something like that, depending on the car.  Or in certain cases, a big Round The World Trip.  Now, although math sometimes fails me, average winning score on Temptation was around 80-100.  So, they needed to figure out a way to boost the score.

Enter Wipeout Ripoff 2.0: Super Knockoff.  It's played like the original Knockoff, except 6 answers are right, 6 are wrong.  The winner picks one answer at a time, if they are right, they get the amount behind the correct answer.  Then they are asked if they want to stop or not because if one answer is wrong, then they lose all the money they earned off the Super Knock-off Board.

Then the question is asked, do you stay to earn more towards the car or another prize that you fancy, or do you want to take the prize that you have enough for....or in the case they don't have enough for the lowest, Rossi offers a Croton Watch, which is around $1,000 or so.  This wouldn't be so bad....if they didn't place another damned cap on things.  Yes, on a show like this, there shouldn't be any caps, but for here, because they are cheap, there is a 5-day limit for as long as a contestant can stay and rack up temptation dollars.  It's like they wanted to do something, but decided in the end to put in all of these caps to not allow contestants to win any big prizes.  I mean, people tuned in to Sale of the Century to see people risk their money in the hopes to win everything plus the cash jackpot....which Temptation didn't have.  Instead, the grand prize was a car.  Again, that just screams cheap.

Thus, with over half the potential viewing audience alienated from seeing this show, the Temptation wasn't even worth mentioning and was promptly cancelled after 1 cheap season on the air.

Where do I even begin?  If you want to revive Sale of the Century, at least do it half-way right.  Either have a big wad of cash at the end, make it a hard quizzer, or at least have half-way decent instant bargains, like stuff that isn't specifically aimed to one gender 95% of the time.  I mean, if you're going to revive Sale, at least have a host who can host worth a damn.  Rossi can't host anything proper unless he's reading off of a teleprompter and that's it.  I mean, he did Can You Duet? and that was ok for what it was.  Rolonda Watts sounded like she was faking it like Meg Ryan was faking an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally and making that chick who announced Peer Pressure sound like Jay Stewart.  This was a huge disappointment to many viewers and a gigantic kick in the testes to the game show fanbase out there.  I really wanted to see this be done right, and instead it just added to the stigmata that goes with Fremantle and Game Shows, with that nickname Dismantle.  Let's just hope that this show doesn't return at all, in any form.