CBS & GSN: (September 1997 - September 1998)
Wheel of Fortune is probably the most successful game show in the history of Television. Whether it's the simplistic gameplay, Vanna White, tons of cash, nice cars, Vanna White, Pat Sajak and the jokes, the big wheel or Vanna White, tons of people flock to watch it & is constantly on the top of the syndicated TV Market. Starting in 1975 on NBC daytime with then rookie game show host Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford, it became one of NBC's longest running daytime shows. Later on, Chuck and Susan left for various reasons and their positions were filled by weatherman Pat Sajak and Vanna White. In 1983, with their big debut in syndication, it became a runaway smash. While the daytime version left the airwaves in 1991, the nighttime Syndicated version still airs to this date. However in 1997, producer of many shows that will feature their way here onto Game Show Garbage, Scott Sternberg decided to make a children's version of Wheel of Fortune. In short, here's how Scott Sternberg screwed up Wheel of Fortune with Wheel 2000.
Firstly, I need to talk about the presentation of the game. During this time, the kids on this show have seen what Wheel of Fortune looked like, the big wheel, the big board, all that stuff. Here..it seems as if Scott Sternberg decided that he wanted to revamp it. So instead, we get something that looks more like it's trying too hard to be hip with neon, tons of monitors in the background, a factory design for some very odd reason, a wheel that didn't need to be changed, and probably the biggest sin...
Having the puzzle board just being one big monitor with computer generated graphics representing the spaces. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised. Scott Sternberg is known for cheapening and screwing up almost anything he touches. I mean, he also produced Let's Go Back, an adult game show, and the stakes on that show were $500 and some $25-40 items that you could find at hobby shops. Heck, kids on Make the Grade were winning more than that. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Not only does the set look cheap, it also looks bad. I doubt the kids were super-excited to see the set when they were playing.
The host of this show was David Sidoni. I don't really have much bad to say about him, although he could tend to get annoying at times. But he's a capable host, which is proven when he also hosted Mad Libs. For a kids game show host, he's alright. He genuinely roots for the kids to win and is excited for when they do well and is sympathetic for when they don't do well. Unfortunately, he's hampered by this freak of nature.
Enter Cyber Lucy. She is a Motion-captured creation that acts as David Sidoni's sidekick, announcer, letter person and whatnot. She's portrayed by Tanika Ray. Unfortunately, while she may be a nice actress and dancer, her demeanor here, along with her announcing skills kinda make me yearn for Tiffany Phelps from Double Dare 2000. She was loud, trying too hard to be hip, and since she was completely motion-captured, her movements gave me the impression that she was high or something like that during her time on this show. Now, when I was a kid, her bulging eyes and her overall look gave me the heeby-jeebies, so her look is more to blame of the designers than her.
The core gameplay of Wheel 2000 is the same as Wheel of Fortune. Spin big wheel, guess a consonant to put into the puzzle, buy a vowel, solve the puzzle win the game. Now, they did add a couple new things to the wheel, such as the Double Up 500 space, where David would ask a question and if you got it right, the amount went from 500 points to 1,000 points. There's a set prize wedge that if a contestant lands on it, they'd get 100 points and a small prize, which usually were small radios, pocket TVs, watches and Game.com's. While that might not sound as bad, they did add one major thing to the wheel that slowed the game down immensely.
They added 3 big stunt wedges to the wheel. Meaning, if a contestant landed on it, they would have to perform a stunt or some certain thing to get random letters from the Randomizer. There were 3 big problems with this. The first one was that the stunts took like 30 or so seconds to explain, 1 minute to perform, 30 or so seconds to wrap up and see if the contestants want the letters or spin again. The second problem, more often than not, the contestants would get Q's, Z's and other useless letters, so making the previous two minutes, completely worthless. The third one was that it just felt like it was slapped on and it didn't fit with the basic formula of Wheel of Fortune. Wheel didn't need to have stunts to gain letters, and the kids version didn't need it either. And once the stunt was played, they became gigantic 250 spaces.
Now while there were no Free Spins available on the show, but both Lose a Turn and Bankrupt were still there, but under different names. Lose a Turn was called Loser. Which was a childish term, to begin with. It simply meant that they got the L on the forehead and they lost their term. Yeah, childish, even for a kids game show. Bankrupt however was called The Creature. You like creatures in game shows, Don't ya Sparky?
SCREW YOU SCOTT STERNBERG FOR STEALING MY SPARKY!
It's insinuated that the Creature is a Dragon by his design of his eyes and the big breath of fire he blows out. I mean, if the eliminating of points was done by electricity, at least have the creature cast lighting or something more original than breathing fire, you untalented hack.
One of the bigger faults of this game, which slowed it down is that it actually had Cyber Lucy or various celebrities give 30 second or so descriptions of the puzzles after they have been solved. Mainly to educate kids who were watching the show about Semicolons, or the Printing Press or a Submarine. I mean, people watch Wheel of Fortune to be entertained and to solve puzzles, not to learn stuff. I guess Scott Sternberg had to ruin almost everything about pacing on Wheel of Fortune. Most of the shows had only 3 puzzles solved during the show. Very rarely would you get a 4th puzzle.
I know I'm doing it out of order, but they had the contestants choose the category. And even the category names had to be made lamer. Thing was turned into Just Stuff, Place was turned into Globetrotter, Person or Proper Name was turned into VIP's, and they had other stupid categories that no kid would choose like Measure It or It Adds Up or stuff like that. I mean, couldn't they have just played normal Wheel of Fortune with points instead of cash, kind of like what Barry & Enright did for Joker Joker Joker? I guess it's Scott Sternberg, he's gotta find some way to screw up a flawless format.
Normally, I don't complain much about the grand prizes, but here I must. The Grand Prizes ranged from something good for the time, like a Computer, to pathetic prizes that were secondary prizes on shows from the 80s like Limo Rides for a week to school, a Blimp Ride and A Theme Park Tour where you get to go behind the scenes of one. Yay, exciting. I mean, couldn't they have just had $2,000 to shell out for a bonus round win or a trip? I guess Scott Sternberg loved to do things on the cheap, especially prizes.
That was Wheel 2000. A horribly done kiddie version of Wheel of Fortune that was axed from both CBS and GSN in one year. However, GSN aired reruns for the next 2 years, until they got the rights to Click. In short, Sidoni was fine, and very respectable, but the rest of the show was drek. Everything from Tanika Ray's actions, cheap prizes, lame stunts that ate up too much time, stealing Sparky from me, among other things that I've listed. I'm just happy that Wheel has Teens play the game and would be fun to have kids play with their parents on this show instead of those lame My Favorite Teacher weeks the show did in the mid 90s.
Now if you thought Scott Sternberg thought he'd only screw up Wheel? Well.....
Think Again. Next Week: Jep!
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