Induction #252 - It's Your (Million
Dollar) Chance of a Lifetime
The Vanilla Ice of the Primetime Game Show Boom Of 2000
FOX: (June 5th - 10th, 2000)
Seven Network in Australia (1999-2000)
August of 1999 saw the rejuvination of the game show in the US. The reason behind it was Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The hit from the UK came to the US and became an instant sensation for ABC. It changed the landscape with it's darker set, ominous music, boatloads of money, a simple game that anybody could play and a real showman in Regis Philbin. The show was a runaway smash hit with its special run in mid-August. Every show felt special, especially with the interactivity that it had with the audience and at home. People calling the number to take the test and qualify to be on the show was enormous for the time. It was the jolt needed in a genre that had been always classified as a relic of the past.
In November of 1999, other networks decided they want
in on the action. FOX came the closest to replicating Millionaire's success with
Greed. There, they amplified just how cutthroat the game could be. Calling it
the richest, most dangerous game in America, contestants risked everything on
each question and from their own teammates who wanted their share of the prize
money. CBS would try with Winning Lines, another import from the UK with one of
the most amazing end games in game show history in the Wonderwall. NBC tried a
revival of Twenty-One with Maury Povich as host, with gigantic amounts of money
at stake, but without any of the risk the original had. While some of them would
be deemed ripoffs of Millionaire, all of them had something different than
Millionaire to make them unique.
But then in June of 2000, we'd be treated to another show from FOX. This show would be another import, this time from Australia. Here, contestants would answer questions on a dark set with ominous music for boatloads of money and has a simple game that anybody could play at home. There was ripping off Millionaire, but then this show openly tried to xerox it. I give you It's Your Chance Of A Lifetime.
Debuting on June 5th, It's Your Chance Of A Lifetime was deemed to be another big money event like Millionaire was. FOX scheduled this special as a week long event with the goal being another weekly show to possibly team up with Greed, which was still airing at this time and doing pretty well. The big problem was that it didn't try to be anything different than Millionaire. We'll start with the setup. The main crux of the set were the two chairs, the monitors, and the back wall that was dark and ominious to go with the music and the lighting. It's like the producers saw what Millionaire was doing and decided to copy it directly.
For hosting we have Gordon Elliot. If you're expecting me to badmouth him for being on this show, then you're dead wrong. Gordon is one of the most underrated hosts in game shows and is in my Game Show Boy Stable alongside underappreciated hosts like Lew Schneider & Deon Cole. He's everything you want in a game show being played for gigantic amounts of money: genuine, happy to see you win big amounts, sorrowful when you lose everything, personable, and is fantastic in general. If you liked Gordon Elliot on To Tell The Truth before he got screwed over by Rupert Murdoch, then you'll love him here.
What you won't love is the game itself. The game is broken up into two parts. The first question asked is the Credit Card question, which is usually supposed to be a question anybody over the age of 9 should be able to answer. Get it right, and the show pays off your credit card and it does that by having the contestant shred their latest bill via a shredder right beside them. An incorrect answer ends the game. People bagged on how the first five questions on Millionaire were easy, but at least the $500 and $1,000 posed a little bit of a challenge. This was flat easy, although one contestant did miss the question, "A Rolling Stone Gathers No what?"
The rest of the game is a 9 question gauntlet. The contestant is shown a list of categories and the computer will randomly pick a category. The first question is worth $5,000. After the first question, the contestant has to gamble at least half of their money on the next question. The questions get harder after the third and sixth questions with the lighting and background changing, like how Millionaire's background and lighting gets darker and darker after each question after getting to the $2,000 question. I guess the difference between this and Millionaire is the questions are straight-forward and have no choices and a two minute clock per question. It reminds me of the line Vanilla Ice uttered when pressed by journalists about him ripping off Under Pressure by Queen for Ice Ice Baby. But only if there were something we can say they use similar to Millionaire that could seal the deal...
Oh there it is. The Lifeline.....I mean Second Chances. One second chance will allow a contestant to swap out the current question for a question in the category they deem their favorite from the list of 9. The other one will make the question multiple choice. Adding to the little bitty ting line of Vanilla Ice, this one removes a ting of Millionaire's question style and instead has three choices instead of four. If a contestant gets to the 7th question, they get their Last Chance meaning they can select one of the helps. The format is that of it's trying so hard to be Millionaire without calling itself Millionaire. It feels like a complete rushjob. And the show's creation is true to this.
The origins of this show are suspect to say the least. The original title of the show was Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime. This was a creation by the Seven Network in Australia. How that came about was the same as how The Chamber was created and rushed out in the states before the Chair. Nine Network had gotten the rights to make a version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Seven Network decided they needed to beat them to the punch to get a show out there that had more money on the table and could suck away potential viewers by adding a play along aspect with someone in the same city as the in-studio contestant. Aussie viewers saw both shows and flocked to Millionaire and left the ripoff to wither.
It's Your Chance of a Lifetime wasn't given much of a chance by viewers and critics, and they were all right. The show was a gigantic flop and plans for a weekly show was scuttled quickly. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just that show was left to die, but because of the massive flop that it became, FOX execs reversed course on another show. In May, FOX had already signed a deal to renew Greed throughout the summer and into another full season after that. After Chance of a Lifetime became a massive failure, FOX scuttled all of their quiz show plans entirely and decided to take a different course of action, despite the good ratings that Greed was bringing in. Greed would be cancelled in July of 2000 because of it.
And that's why it belongs on this site. It's bad enough to be bad on its own, but if a show is so bad that it forces the entire network to change plans, then it's a whole other matter. Even though Gordon Elliot was fantastic, everything else was nothing more than the ripoff of Millionaire that it was purported to be. The set, the feel, the look, all felt like it was done on other shows. This whole format and gimmick was nothing more than a cash grab and deserves to be left to wither and die. So while this originally started as an induction of the FOX version in the states. It can be considered an indictment on the original as well, which was even worse in Australia.
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