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TWoP 10: Dumbest Primetime Gameshows Ever

by Angel Cohn June 27, 2008 8:00 am
TWoP 10: Dumbest Primetime Gameshows Ever

With the recent addition of Wipeout to the world of stupid shows where people make themselves look like idiots in order to earn some cash money, we've decided to take a look back at some of the really ridiculous shows that involve rewarding those with little or no talent with cash. While Wipeout just barely missed making the cut, there are some others that are horrifyingly bad and are contributing to the downfall of quality television just as much as an average episode of The Bachelorette. That's not to say that some of these aren't entertaining to watch, but that doesn't really make them intelligent TV.

1. Let's Make a Deal (NBC, 1967 and ABC, 1969-1971 and Syndicated)
Yeah, we know, this show has sentimental value or whatever, but it's also the show that begat such skill-less shows as Deal or No Deal and was one of the first encouraged players to act like fools in order to get on TV, both terrible trends that still exist today. Monty Hall was a charmer who egged on crazily dressed contestants and gave them prizes and then tempted them with mysterious boxes and doors that held fabulous prizes or zonks (a.k.a. duds like jalopys or sometimes goats). Audience members were randomly picked to be players based on their nutty costumes and how obnoxious they could be in getting Hall's attention. So next time you're rolling your eyes at someone on TV yelling and screaming like they just won the lotto after they earned a two dollar prize, blame this show.

2. The Chamber/The Chair (Fox and ABC, 2002)
These nearly identical shows entered the primetime landscape within weeks of each other and since both were insipidly idiotic, neither stuck around very long. The Chamber put contestants in a hot or cold box and asked them questions while in extreme weather conditions and they had to keep their heartrates stable. In contrast, The Chair had tennis menace John McEnroe asking questions of people who were strapped to a chair and challenged to keep their heartrates stable, and in between quiz rounds McEnroe served up tennis balls at their head or surrounded them by a hive of bees seeing if they could stay calm. There were lawsuits about who had the idea first, but the better lawsuit would have been against the people who thought up this concept in the first place.

3. Deal or No Deal (NBC, 2005-present)
The epitome of dumb game shows currently on TV (and that's saying a lot). This show involves absolutely no skill whatsoever and is solely based on luck. The contestants don't have to really do anything except be able to pick a briefcase from a hot girl and then be able to pick other numbers and say the words "Deal" or "No deal" when they're asked if they want to press their luck and choose another case instead of sticking with cash in the pocket. Oh, and they're required to behave as obnoxiously as possible, as well as fist-bump with germaphobe Howie Mandel, which could be a talent...sort of.

4. Bobcat's Big Ass Show (FX, 1998)
Sure this came about when FX was a fledgling little network without kickass shows like Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck, but that doesn't excuse casting "comedian" Bobcat Goldthwait as the host for a game show. Bobcat encouraged contestants to compete in such challenges as fake animal attacks (there's a clip on YouTube of a guy flailing around pretending to be mauled by a stuffed cougar if you don't believe us) and sharing their dirty little secrets with the audience. Think your average ordinary game of Truth or Dare, but way lowbrow.

5. Set for Life (ABC, 2007)
This one has way too many rules to even try to explain, but the basic gist of it was that people would pull little, light-up cylinders from the ground in a special, secret order in order to determine if they got enough money to pay their monthly bills for life...or for like, five years. The unthinkably confusing part was that the contestants had a friend or family member watching from an isolation chamber and they decided when or if the player should continue on in the competition. Even host Jimmy Kimmel didn't look like he quite understood much of anything, aside from the fact that he was getting paid and that this might help him in his quest to become the next Regis Philbin.

6. Dog Eats Dog (NBC, 2002-2003)
Surely this was not Brooke Burns' finest moment, though arguably Pepper Dennis wasn't all that much better. Burns hosted this show in a scantily clad wardrobe, which kept with the theme of players competing in stunts (most of them in the water while wearing little clothing) or stripping games (such as darts and golf) in order to win some cash money. This demeaning (to men and women) game show was just another show aimed at the lowest common denominator of fans and players who probably got sick of showing off their junk for nothing in New Orleans and couldn't make it on to the Real World/Road Rules Challenges.

7. National Bingo Night (ABC, 2007)
We can see how this brainstorming meeting went: "Hey, people love bingo, right? Wouldn't it be fun to let them play at home? And let's get that guy from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to host. No, not the one who yells with the megaphone, the other quiet carpenter with the British accent. And while we're at it, instead of letting the contestants actually play bingo (because that's so boring to watch) let's make them do stupid stunts while the audience plays "old-fashioned" bingo and then make the players randomly guess what color balls are going to come down. We're such geniuses. Too bad the end result really was far from that.

8. Fear Factor (NBC, 2001-2006)
Making it OK for people across America to eat bugs for cash, comes Fear Factor the most disgusting game show ever (well, until Hurl! premieres). It did have one good thing going for it, host Joe Rogan. He made this show somewhat watchable, even if it had the most impossibly senseless premise. Overenthusiastic players were subjected to things like being trapped underwater, forced to cross between buildings, be covered in spiders, eat parts of animals that shouldn't be eaten. Grosser than gross.

9. Let's Bowl (Comedy Central, 2001-2002)
What do you get when you take competitive bowling and a courtroom show? Let's Bowl, of course. Players who had a beef with each other took to the lanes to duke it out Big Lebowski style, by competing in a 10-frame round of bowling. The "winner" gets to compete against a professional bowler to win prizes. Of course, there were hot girls who flirted and teased the players while they were bowling. Real classy.

10. My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad (NBC, 2008)
If you need more than the words "hosted by Dan Cortese" to convince you that this game show was going to be dumb, well then, fine. This show basically stole elements from Family Double Dare, Nickelodeon's GUTS, Ninja Warrior and American Gladiators to create physical challenges like putting a man in a tree in order to retrieve little birds while other players shoot things at him, so that fathers can prove that they are awesome. Meanwhile, this is great for the kids when their dads win, but when they lose, the look of disappointment is depressing. Tearing families apart -- isn't that what makes a good game show?

Bonus: Hurl! (G4, coming in July 2008)
We've only got the premise for this one, but it sounds like this one could skyrocket to the top of the list. Basically players are subjected to a competitive eating round, where they down massive amounts of food and then are tasked with participating in physical challenges and sporting events as they try not to vomit. Yeah, you read that right -- not vomiting is the key to winning. We're looking out the window for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as we type this.

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