#68: Born Lucky
Lifetime: (October 1992 - December 1993)
There are certain types of shows out there that will either be big hits, or be epic failures. I've already talked about the Hidden Camera based game show, which has yet to at least have a show that could be considered a hit. But another show that either is a big hit or a big failure is the stunt show. Shows like Beat the Clock, Double Dare, and to a lesser extent, Fun House and currently Minute to Win It all use this format and it makes it work, whereas shows mainly done by Stone Stanley Productions use the Stunt Format as a crutch for a weak format. Especially a show that seemed like a blatant rip-off of one of their better shows.
It's not that uncommon to take your own show, tweak it a bit and make it another different show. Mark Goodson did this a lot in the 50s by tweaking What's My Line? and getting The Name's The Same, I've Got A Secret and I've Got A Secret was tweaked to make Make the Connection. Stone Stanley did it by tweaking Fun House and making it College Mad House, and in turn taking College Mad House and changing the setting and making Shop 'Til You Drop. But then they made the mistake of tweaking Shop and putting it in a real mall and making the stunts on Shop 'til you Drop look like legendary stuff. So, let's talk about Born Lucky.
I'll say this, We're on a good start with Bob Goen. He is one of those hosts that just gets dealt crappy format after crappy format. His resume up until this point includes Perfect Match, a bad Newlywed Game Clone, you got The Home Shopping Game, which was a crutch to sell cheap merchandise at cheaper prices, Blackout, which has the dubious distinction of replacing The $25,000 Pyramid and have been replaced immediately after by the same show. He finally got a break by getting the daytime Wheel of Fortune. There, he proved that he could hang with the big boys.
However, he's handicapped by an annoying git in Jonathan Coleman.
....Wait. Not Jonathan Coachman.
There, that's Jonathan Coleman. He's supposed to be Bob's version of Mark L. Walberg. But instead he comes off as an annoying tool, like Brad Sherwood when he announces The Price is Right. His announcing is decent, but that's about it. His role could have easily just been an announcer and it'd be ok. But since they made him do more than what he was good at, it was a failure.
Now the format. 4 people are picked out of the crowd at the start of the show and Coleman gives them some clue as to what type of stunt they are going to play. On the surface, this seems ok. I mean, who wouldn't want to be picked out of a crowd to win stuff?
But then when we get to the stunts themselves, you can tell these stunts are from the "Shop 'til You Drop Rejected Ideas" bin. I mean, having to identify astrological signs by really cheesy clues, flinging plastic fruit above your head to the ceiling which is loaded with velcro, among other things. I mean, these aren't really stunts that anybody would be overly excited to be playing. And let's be serious. How can you be excited when you have to figure out what fabric gets washed in what way or deciphering license plates.
Not to mention, the prizes for the show. Ok, now I wouldn't normally rail on the prizes for the show, but this show's prizes require it. Firstly, you get cash depending on how well you do with the stunt...and by cash I mean big pieces of paper called "Mall Money", which can be spent at the mall immediately after the game. The max you could get is $100 in Mall Money. So, making a fool out of yourself nets you $100 in white paper.
But what's worse than the pieces of paper is the actual prizes given out for playing the games. I mean, you could win such prizes as....a blanket. Yes, a Blanket. I also heard that there was Jewelry given away from a company called Imposters. I wish I was making that up. The jokes just write themselves, ladies and gentlemen. But anyways, the prizes were cheaper than those found on Shop 'til You Drop, and I'm also including the joke prizes in the early episodes.
Then the two people with the most white pieces of paper goes on to the "Challenge Round" where there's one stunt that needs to be done and the two players must either bet how many in 1 minute they can get done, or get the task done in the least amount of time. So basically, it's taking the Bid-A-Note round for Name That Tune and drowning it in regurgitated Orange Julius. The winner proceeds to the bonus round to win more pieces of white paper.
The bonus round consists of having to do 5 "exciting" tasks, such as sorting the laundry, mating socks, guessing what the slogan is for laundry detergent, all that fun stuff. Yeah, nothing like doing your chores on TV for pieces of white paper called "Mall Money" and making a fool out of yourself by having a toilet paper roll on top of your head. The payout is $100 in Mall Money for each task done and getting all 5 nets the poor sap $2,000 in white pieces of paper to spend at the mall. I mean, I was right when these stunts were Shop 'Til You Drop rejects. These are some of the most boring final game stunts I've seen since Supercoin on Minute to Win It, and the bonus game is just as hard.
I guess the reason why this show made it to air was that Lifetime wanted to find a third show that fit in with their other two heavy hitters in Supermarket Sweep and Shop 'Til You Drop. But as the old saying goes, Two's Company and Three's a Crowd, so Born Lucky only lasted a year or so before it was time for its mother to drag it by its ear out of the mall. As I said before, Stunt Shows can be fun, if executed right. But when you have stunts that aren't even good enough to make Shop 'Til You Drop's lofty standards and give out prizes that cost less than the Mall Money given away, then it isn't long for this world. Sadly, this would be the last game show that Bob Goen has done until he got That's The Question for Game Show Network back in 2006. It had a decent premise and could have been a good distraction, if it was executed right. But poorly conceived stunts, cheap payouts, Jonathan Coleman's aura of mediocreness and other variables doomed this show to failure.
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