52 Games: Let’s Ask America

TITLE:  Let’s Ask America

DEBUT: September 17, 2012

HOST(S): Kevin Pereira, Bill Bellamy

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: People on Skype have to act fake-excited while picking the most popular answer in a survey.

RULES: There are four players “live” via Skype, they have just their webcams, some cards, a marker, and a background that producers probably told them what would work because “it looks nice” (and avoids copyrights).

In Round 1, there are 4 players, and they have to figure out the most popular answer to a survey with two possible answers (Forgive Them or Dump Them, what would currently dating women do if their boyfriend forgot their birthday). Whoever had the lowest score is eliminated by the game. In the event of a tie, there is a “Dash for Cash” in which players have to get off their chair and grab something (Much like a “Quickie Deal”) and whoever is the slowest is eliminated from the game.

In Round 2, the three remaining players have to pick from questions with 3 possible answers, for more money, once again, the lowest score is eliminated, or a dash for cash is made to settle a tie.

In Round 3, the two remaining players have to pick from 4 possible answers, and whoever has the highest score wins their money and goes onto the final question.

In the final question, they can wager as much as they want on it, much like a Final Jeopardy. But if they go “ALL IN”, they are playing for 5 times their amount. On 1 question with 4 possible answers. A correct answer wins the money, Incorrect loses the money, and if it’s all-in, that includes losing everything.

WHAT WORKS:

Game Shows are shows that are broadcast nationwide, but most game shows film here in Los Angeles. To be a contestant, you have to sign up, follow casting directors, be a character of yourself, and go through hurdles before you even make it to the studio. This show avoids Los Angeles, if you want to be a contestant, you just need a form, and skype, and the directors will COME to you. They will send over the equipment needed for the game, so all you will need is to be at home when the show is taping.

And the show is taping, with you in the comfort of your home, Rather it’s Wyoming, Indiana, Kentucky, or any small town in america, you can be on this show and play for $50,000. Kevin Pereira was a good fit for this show, because of his work on AOTS, and in a few episodes they actually gave him a co-host to bounce ideas with, as she was sitting in a “Survey” corner and was the one who revealed the results.  It’s very lighthearted and is one of the few game shows that debut in the 2010s. (There aren’t that much, and we are midway through this decade!) and still remain on the air.

The questions are fun to play with, but i sometimes question the percentages. How many people did they survey in each question, was it 100 or was it more or less than that? It’s not Power of 10 levels of surveying, because of budget, I assume, but If they asked only 17 people, those percentages are fluctuated.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

The show has changed so many times throughout the seasons. The audience got a little more “rowdy” in later seasons, the rules changed from Season 1 to Season 2 (An “All-In” in Season 1, gave you a $1,000 safety net should you fail, but got rid of it for Season 2) and even Season 2 to Season 3 (Kevin became Bill Bellamy, and the top prize went from $50,000 to $35,000)

The original gameplay made round 3 questions very top heavy, so if by some reason, you were always scathing by in Rounds 1 and 2, you can answer just 1 question right in Round 3 and secure the game because your opponent didn’t get it right.

The Dash For Cash is also something that I feel is pretty corny when it comes to a tie. It’s a novel idea to get people to find something in their home or do something silly on camera, But “Grab a toilet plunger, a book, and recreate the statue of liberty” is hardly gripping television for the 10-15 seconds it takes to show the people running (sometimes with the headphones still on their head) as they try and do it.)

I also feel that Bill Bellamy, as funny as the person is, wasn’t as good of a host as Kevin. Bill Bellamy would be a much better fit on a possible dating show, but a show that’s essentially nerdy people answering questions about “Which celebrity did people find more attractive”, is not really interesting or fun. The $35,000 cash prize is also somewhat disturbing to me, because to me, and this might sound weird. I thought $50,000 was the PERFECT cash prize for a show called “Let’s Ask America”, because if anybody asks why, It was $1,000 for each state (50 states), $35,000 seems pretty low, and even lower if you remember that the maximum players have before entering the final question (and “won”) is $7,000. It’s still good money, but it just doesn’t have that kind of decision as $10,000 could have. While $3,000 makes a difference on a production standpoint, in a psychological level for a contestant, it doesn’t do much. You’ll just see more than likely a $2,000 or $3,000 gamble, for a possible $4,000 to $10,000 payout (to remind you, on a perfect day)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

There are so many reasons to enjoy Let’s Ask America, but season by season the show is slipping. I would have enjoyed the original (what I assume were pilots) of the show if that’s the way they kept it. Kevin, 4 contestants, and a co-host to bounce ideas with, along with contestants who were happy to be on television (but weren’t just cast as “a balloon artist, so please flood your bedroom with balloon animals”) and the scoring still being worth $5,000 on the final question (as top-heavy as it was), with the final round still being the All-In for $50,000 or a safety net of $1,000 even if you fail.

It comes across as a very cheap production when $1,000 isn’t given to a winner. That if they fail, much like everybody else, they just win the shirt, and coffee mug and tumbler and can talk about the 4-6 minutes of television time they were on. If they had a bigger budget, I am sure they would do fantastic items, but the way the show looks now, Season 7 will be hosted by Dan Cortese and the top prize will be $5,000. (and players will just “shout” out the answers, and consolation prizes will be in the form of email coupons for 10% off car washes). It can be a much better show, because the first season was phenomenal, but lately, it’s just “a show that’s on to fill 30 minutes”. It’s not going to beat Wheel or Jeopardy any time soon, but if it wants to do well, it better try it’s hardest to be THE SOCIAL MEDIA GAME SHOW. Even if it means referring to contestants by their twitter handles and calling it #DashForCash and showing every episode on YouTube, do something! It’s squandering a ton of potential for success here.

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