TV Series Review
ABC's Downfall has all the hallmarks of a corporate brainstorming meeting gone wrong.
Exec 1:"You know, that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? show worked out OK for us for a while. We could bring that back this summer."
Exec 2:"True, but really, what happens in that thing? Don't the contestants just sit around and answer questions? Man, we're talkin' a new generation of viewers now. They don't have that kind of attention span, do they?"
Exec 1:"You're right. What we need is Millionaire … with … explosions. And a younger, hipper Regis Philbin."
Lawyer:"Can't do explosions. Insurance. We're trying to cut costs, remember?"
Exec 2:"I know! We'll just drop stuff off a 10-story building! Maybe we can even smash up the prizes contestants are too dumb to win! Miss a question, and splat! Ratings fiesta! Particularly if we drop a gigantic gumball machine every now and then."
Exec 1:"Sounds intriguing, but don't we need to …"
Exec 2:"… continually ratchet up the tension? You bet. What if, when things get boring or they run out of questions or prizes or something, we drop the contestants off the roof! Awesome, right?"
Lawyer:"Um, I'm not sure …"
Exec 2:"Oh, com'on, we won't kill 'em or anything. This is just a summer fill-in show, after all, not a sweeps-week extravaganza. They'll wear a harness so they don't get hurt."
Exec 1:"Great concept. Now, if only we could figure out what to do about the host …"
Chris Jericho:"Hi, I'm Chris Jericho, a former professional wrestler with no experience in hosting a game show but I look awfully good standing on top of a building. You got any work for me?"
Execs 1 and 2:"Perfect!"
And that's exactly what TV executives think Americans like to watch: strangers winning stuff from handsome guys while things go kablooey.
Contestants answer questions from the top of a 100-foot building while a conveyer belt—holding prizes and cash—slowly pushes everything toward the edge. Miss a question or two, and the prizes (fabrications, actually) begin to fall. Contestants can stop the treadmill with a panic button, but then they have to slap one of their friends or relations or a prized possession on it to continue. Once those objects/people are gone, and the money plummets, too, the only thing left is for the contestants themselves to be dangled and then dropped.
It's such a diabolical mash-up of consumerism and anarchic destruction as to be practically brilliant—if a show catering to 13-year-old boys with a trivia fixation could ever be called brilliant.