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The $64,000 Question (2000)

Producer: : Dick Clark/CBS
Host: : Greg Gumbel
Taping Info: April 2000 at CBS Los Angeles
Made it to Air: No

When a prime time show is a success, and it breaks new ground in programming, the other networks are quick to imitate. On the heels of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, CBS commissioned The $64,000 Question, which is technically true but players could win much more. Greg Gumbel is your milquetoast host with the most.

The game starts out with two players, and a brief video about their lives is shown to the audience. The audience is then woken up, and a qualifying round where general knowledge questions are asked as tossups. $1,000 is awarded for a correct answer, $1,000 deducted for incorrect or a time violation, and the question must be completed before an answer is allowed. The first to $8,000 moves on to the solo round.

The isolation booth returns, although strangely it is off to the side rather than being in the center of the stage. Like the 50s version, the remaining questions are on one subject only of the player's choosing. At this point, the player is shown two sub-categories, picks one, and is asked a $16,000 question, which consists of a multiple choice question with three possible answers. The player may not bail and must try to answer the question within 30 seconds. This is repeated with the $32,000 question (with four choices) and $64,000 (with five choices). The $64,000 question is a safe haven, once that question is answered, the player is guaranteed at least that much money.

In this pilot, the first player bombed out at $64,000 and left brokenhearted, not knowing everything he needed to know about cooking. In the second round, a perky young woman made it out of the qualifying round and chose NCAA basketball as her subject. She blew by the $64,000 question with ease and moved on to the next levels.

At $128,000, the sub-category choice is no longer an option and questions are no longer multiple choice. For this level, the question is a 2-part question. The next level is $256,000 and 3 parts, then $512,000 and 4 parts and finally $1,028,000 with 6 parts, of which only 5 need to be answered correctly. At this point, it became blatantly obvious the pilot was rigged, just like the real show was 40+ years ago. Some of the questions included trying to name the leading scorer for a college team for the past season or knowing single game records for such esoteric categories as steals or three-pointers. The time limit of 30 seconds continued, and it was 30 seconds for all parts, not for each individual part.

The less-than-subtle rigging and what was a quite ugly set doomed this show. Greg Gumbel showed promise as a host, but with a time limit and an absence of Regisesque banter the game seemed robotic. Watching somebody think for 30 seconds without host interaction does not make for compelling television.

This pilot has been viewed 8013 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Aug 16, 2010 23:09 ET
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