I've been maintaining this site, or some incarnation of it, for approximately 8 years. And for all but 2 months of those 8 years, I've professed an intense love - nay, passion - for the genre of game shows. My first cognitive memory is of Jim Perry hosting Card Sharks. So one may say that I've been intrinsically fixated on them. And since I had once proposed to make the board game Taboo into a television-friendly format, one may even say I'm worthy to comment on the new show on TNN that similarly bases itself off the board game.
But far be it for me to tell these people how to make their game shows. I mean, these are people with years if not decades of experience in the industry; surely they know what makes a good game show and a bad game show. I'm just a 24-year-old college student who's looking (not very hard, I may add) for a job in said industry, watching dozens upon dozens of game shows and seeing them flourish or flounder. I've never produced a game show in my life; these people have. So surely they must know what they're doing, right?
I will say this much: the board game Taboo is a lively and uproarious game, with captivating gameplay and great strategy.
The game show Taboo is a lively and uproarious game, with captivating gameplay and great strategy... flushed down a toilet along with the dirty work of a woman with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who's just polished off a bag of Ruffles WOW! potato chips with extra Olestra.
Well, honestly, it's not that bad - I am giving the show 3 points out of 10 - but there are plenty of other mediocre shows that have done better. Nick Arcade scored a 4 out of 10, and that's with Phil Moore hosting. Blankety Blanks scored 5 points, and you need a megadose of amphetamines to make it through an episode of that. Hell, Shop 'Til You Drop, one of the most maligned game shows to ever air, scored a 5 on my scale. So to get a 3, you must really, really suck.
Oh, I'm sorry... you actually want me to tell you what the show is about? Well, I guess I'll do that, but be warned: everything below this sentence isn't as bad as I say it is - it's worse.
The premiere started off with some nondescript announcer (as if there were any other kind) introducing the host, Chris Wylde. To give you some background on this man's prior TV experience, he once hosted a late-night talk show. On Comedy Central. On Sunday nights. Which got cancelled after about 4 weeks. Commercials advertising (read: "oh-vurr-hy-peeng") this show revolved around Wylde as a pizza delivery man who mistakenly stumbled into the host auditions for Taboo, and gets the job by barking like a dog and having a vague understand of the game's concept. Methinks this was based on a true story.
Anyway, Wylde walks - I'm sorry, dashes - on to the set; a set that looks like someone just had a shopping spree at the Win Ben Stein's Money Cancellation Yard Sale. Oh, look, a model of a brain. That must mean this show is intelligent.
Wylde mumbles some stupid chatter, then beckons the contestants to COME ON DOWN!! Notice how they've yet to mention the title of the show up to this point. But then again, you'd be reticent to give a title to a show like this if you knew what the next 20 minutes were gonna be like.
He then goes over to one of the teams (two teams of three, for those scoring at home) and says that the first person to shout out the subject word he's giving clues to becomes "team captain". He crowns some fat chick as the captain of the left team, then crowns some opera diva the captain of the right team.
Now we hear the rules of the game. The captain chooses a clue giver, who has 45 seconds to describe up to 8 subjects, while avoiding the five Taboo words and not using phonetic clues. So basically, it's just like Pyramid. Did I mention that here in Southern California, (The kinda $100,000) Pyramid airs on channel 9 at 7:00, which happens to be the same time Taboo airs on TNN? So if you live in LA, you can choose to watch Pyramid or Taboo. It's like giving someone a choice to watch an episode of Animaniacs or an episode of Animaniacs dubbed in Farsi while an autistic nine-year-old plays billiards with your kidneys.
If you do say a Taboo word, you not only lose the word, but you also have to hear the Taboo sound. Put simply the Taboo sound is someone shouting "Taboo!" at different pitches roughly 30 billion times.
The captain of the left team chooses herself as the first clue-giver, and is given the following word: COME. And here are the five Taboo words: Arrive, Home, Here, Lately, and Verb. The clue-giver asks, "Can I go dirty?" When Chris tells her to go, she immediately gives an incomplete sentence regarding another word for when a man reaches the exciting part of a play.
Of course, I'm not going to blast the people in charge for allowing such pornographic language to be put on the air. This is cable, you know. But it does prove one thing, if you are producing this show, and you have to orchestrate the Taboo words so that the clue-giver HAS to give that sort of clue (and if you think another clue is possible, tell me what it is. Hurry, the clock's ticking.), and you're forced to play this trump card on the FIRST WORD of the FIRST SHOW, you need to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions: "Why didn't I hire a writer older than 22? Why do I keep thinking that I need potty humor to get anyone to watch my show? Is it too late to leave the country and adopt a new identity?"
Both sides play twice. I should mention that on the right team, there's a black dude named Renard, which is French for Fox. Which means that I have to now root for this team (granted, the left team hardly gave me any incentive to root for them) because being a fur, I immediately latch onto any name that contains or translates to an animal, particularly one of the Canidae family. Which means that, invariably, the right team is going to lose.
The second round is the "Danger" Round, where the teams have to describe celebrities, and if they say a Taboo word, they not only get "Tabtaooboottaabotoabbooototaaboboottabaobotooabtooabtooaboo!!!" screamed at them, but Wylde pops them in the face with a Nerf gun a point-blank range. I guess it's to distract them during their clue-giving (not that they're really doing a bang-up job to begin with). But wouldn't it make sense to distract them while they're giving clues and not after they screw up?
In the third round, in a shocking twist of events, the point values are doubled! Ooooh!! However, now they have to contend with six Tatababobooo words instead of five. Predictably, the right team loses by about 4 points, because despite Renard's decent clues (he is, you know, sly as a fox), his teammates were doing their impression of Will Ferrell doing his impression of George W. Bush when he's asked a question he doesn't quite grasp. But then again, I can hardly blame them: I'm sure my mind would turn into corned beef hash if I realized that I'm going to lose on a game show that nobody will ever watch, and would hide in shame from anyone who did. The losers get copies of the Taboo "home game" (because Lord knows they were probably abducted off the street to be on this show and have never even heard of the game before).
And now it's time for the bonus round. But first, the left team gets to choose what they'll play for. They can either take a trip to a Monster Truck Rally in Vegas, a Paintball expedition in Orlando, or a dirt bike adventure in... Las Vegas. Poor Chris, he's trying to fool us into thinking they're in three different cities by leaving the Las off the first one.
The team picks the paintball trip to Orlando. Now that should be grounds for instant disqualification right there: the producers gave you two chances to go to Vegas, guys, and you decided you'd prefer to get sweaty and dirty and covered in quarter-sized welts in Orlando instead (and no, Orlando does not equal Disney World. There is an actual city.)
Not like it mattered though; the team had to get 6 subjects right in 60 seconds, switch clue-giving duties after each word, and the most these people had ever gotten in one round was four. So instead they get such fantastic prizes as a watch, a cordless phone, a DVD player, and a copy of the board game. Retail value: $250.
Chris Wylde says goodbye (and I say good riddance), and we're cast off with theme music from Alan Ett, founder and CEO of BMBOMI (Bland Music Bereft Of Melody, Inc.) His motto: who needs an actual theme song when you can loop eight measures together?
All in all, a 1 in gameplay. A 1 in host - admittedly, he does look and act like he's rooting for the contestants, even if he does combine the obnoxiousness of Phil Moore, the hyper-hyperness of Patrick Wayne and the incompetency of Blake Emmons into one horrifying set of chromosomes. The presentation gets a 1 and the execution gets a big fat nada. Grand total of 3 points.
And no, I'm not doing this because I'm bitter about having to go back to CSUN for a winter class that'll give me the 3 units I have left to graudate after I found out that one of the classes I took in Fall '01 didn't count for Upper Division General Ed, and now I have to wake up at 7 in the morning again and drive an hour and a half in the middle of rush hour to sit at a desk for four hours and listen to some stupid liberal professor spew out blather about "Communication and the Sexes". Whatever gave you that idea?