Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yet Again Another 1 Vs. 100 Update

I realized I didn't tell you what happened when I went in for the taping of 1 Vs. 100 last week. Short answer: nothing much. They cut things short, and sent a bunch of us -- including me -- home before we could get into the game. Good news: they've called me back in, next Monday at 10:30AM. Again, there's still no guarantee I'll get on the show, but they did let me know that those of us who had been in once already would be top priority. So, cool.

I did get to see a lot of nifty behind-the-scenes stuff while I was there that I want to tell you all about. But they make any potential participants sign a pretty hefty nondisclosure agreement. If I eventually get on the show, I won't even be able to tell you if I won or lost before the show airs -- I think all I can tell you is when my episode would air.

It occurs to me that there are probably many of you who have never seen the show. (Hell, I even talked to people in line waiting to be on the show who had never seen it!) If you haven't, you should catch it when it returns this week -- 8PM Friday on NBC! Make sure to watch. We want the show to get good ratings, so I can have the best chance possible to make it on the air. Anyway, since I can't tell you about the behind-the-scenes stuff, I thought I'd give a quick description to the newbies among you of the show and how it works.

This game is simple. (That's the catchphrase they're pushing for host Bob Saget.) There's one main player, who is competing against one hundred other contestants. 1 vs. 100 -- get it?? A multiple choice question, worth a dollar amount ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, is asked. The 100 players, aka the Mob, have ten seconds to press a button corresponding to what they think is the correct answer, either A, B, or C. If a Mob member gets the wrong answer, he's eliminated. But before it's revealed who in the Mob was right and who was wrong, the 1 has to answer the same question. But he gets to take all the time he needs to think about it. If he gets the question right, he wins a dollar amount equal to the number of Mob members who got it wrong multiplied by the value of the question. For example, if 7 Mob members miss a $2,000 question, the 1 wins $14,000. If the 1 gets the question wrong, then all the money he's accumulated up to that point gets split up among the remaining Mob members.

A significant difference between 1 Vs. 100 and the similarly multiple choice question-themed Who Wants To Be a Millionaire is that the main player does not get to see the question before deciding whether or not to answer it. The 1 can walk away with whatever money he's won at any point before seeing the next question. But if the 1 decides to continue, and see the next question, he then must answer the question. It's too late to back out. If he misses it -- money gone. Game over.

The 1 does have assistance available. (Roger wanted me to explain this bit.) He can use one of his "helps" on any question. With one help, he can get more information about one of the possible answers. Say he wants more info on answer B. He is then shown how many people in the Mob chose B, and then he can pick out one of them to explain the reasoning behind their answer. The former is generally more helpful than the latter; it's less useful to hear one of the rabble clumsily (or falsely -- the Mob is allowed to be deceitful) explain his reasoning than to see that, say, 89 out of 100 people picked the answer, meaning it's likely to be right, or, conversely, to see that only 3 or 4 out of 100 picked the answer, meaning it's probably wrong.

With another help, two Mob members are singled out, one of whom picked the correct answer, and one of whom picked one of the incorrect answers. This automatically eliminates the remaining incorrect answer. Also, the 1 gets to hear the reasoning behind the answers from both members of the Mob. Again, the Mob members can be deceitful, which can make it difficult for the 1 to decide which one got the right answer.

There are some flaws with the gameplay, especially (from the POV of a Mob member hopeful) that the Mob almost never wins a significant amount of money -- or any money, period. It's too easy for the 1 to pile up some good money and walk away. Also, the gameplay can be slow. But Bob Saget is engaging and entertaining, and the questions, after the first couple easy ones, tend to hit that TV game show sweet spot of being challenging enough to the home viewer that they have to think about it a bit, but not so hard that it gets frustrating to play along. But I'd still watch it even if I weren't possibly going to be on it. In fact, I was watching it before I even heard about the contestant audition.

I'll let you know what I can about what happens after I return to the studio next Monday. Fingers crossed!

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