“Russian Roulette” Shows How a Drop-Based Show Should be Done
We’re in our third straight year of game shows that involve dropping people for losing. We had Downfall, and then 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show, and now Who’s Still Standing?. However, these shows, especially the recent NBC one mentioned last, makes us remember just how incredibly good Russian Roulette was and how far ahead GSN/Game Show Network was of anyone else. It also does show us that GSN can create a show that rivals anything else out there if they put out effort. We’ve posted some of the show on Facebook, and we wanted to go into it more here.
For those that don’t remember the show, Russian Roulette was extremely simple. Host (criminally underused) Mark Walberg asked a question. The first question has one drop zone and it goes up each new question to a maximum of five out of six drop zones activated. Four players stand on six of the zones individually. The person in control challenges someone to answer. If you get it right you get money, but if you get it wrong you have to pull the handle, the lights spin, and you hope your zone is not red. If it is…
The winner plays one of the best end games ever made: the Killer Questions. The winner has to answer a series of questions (five brain teasers in season one; ten tricky multiple choice questions in season two) in sixty seconds. Every ten seconds a new zone opens and activates. Give a wrong answer or run out of time and you drop. If you get them all you get $10,000 and a chance to gamble that for $100,000 by playing one final game of Russian Roulette with the number of activated drop zones. Take a look at what is easily the most memorable Killer Questions and flat out one of the best game show moments of the Millionaire era.
This is exactly how this type of show should be done. The drop can’t be the reason for the show to exist. Russian Roulette could survive without the drop and be a fun, solid game. Stuff like Who’s Still Standing have the drop tacked on as the sole gimmick to watch. Take it away and you have something we’ve seen over and over. Russian Roulette is a text book example of how to make a game show people will remember. You need a great host, a great format, a nice gimmick which doesn’t overpower the show, and a unique twist. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the most tense and exciting end games on television, either.
It’s also what GSN should strive to do. Russian Roulette rivals current game shows in terms of style, excitement, and game play. They have the power to do shows like this again and they have a crew there which can do it. GSN can afford to take risks. Some work big (Baggage) and some don’t (Late Night Liars). That’s how TV works. I’d love to see them take a risk and there are affordable daily or even weekly shows like Take It or Leave It, Whammy, or The Cube which are available, doable, and somewhat different. They can easily put together a show that blows Who’s Still Standing and You Deserve It out of the water. They just need to look to the past and what made them ahead of the game ten years ago.