Review: “Take It All” Good for the First 50 Minutes
The long-awaited debut of NBC’s newest primetime game show, Take It All, has come and gone. I don’t think it’s rude or a lie to say that we’re extremely apprehensive and nervous about any primetime game these days. Out of the past seven or eight years I can count three good ones (1 VS 100, Million Dollar Mind Game, and Deal or No Deal) and the rest have fallen somewhere in the range of forgettable to god awful. Take It All has a great host, a good production crew, and a game that actually lets people play along some. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the show was actually pretty fun…for the first 50 minutes. Despite the needlessly tacked on prisoner’s dilemma end game, though, it’s still one of the better games we’ve seen NBC try in some time.
We all know the rules by now. You have to pick a prize from the Dream Screen or steal one from an opponent if they haven’t frozen it yet (once per game). The lowest scorer for the round is eliminated. Take It All managed to find a wide range of prizes that left viewers guessing. Which is more expensive: a ski boat or a 25 year gym membership? It was hard not to play along and try to guess. Prizes ranged from the useful to the extravagant. For instance I’d kill to get that Brew Cave or arcade set-up.
Amazingly, as opposed to basically any other primetime game in a while, I actually think they had trouble fitting in early portions in. The first round took forever because there was so much going on, not because of stalling like every other show. That’s, frankly, a good thing. There was little down time. It was nearly all game from the get-go. I’m not sure the last time we saw a primetime game as fast paced as this, so good for them. And, despite that somewhat mediocre opening, it carried into a good second round and a very exciting and fun third round. I finished the first 50 minutes satisfied with what I saw and feeling good. Was it the best thing ever? No. However, it was one of NBC’s better efforts in a while.
However that somewhat came to a screeching halt during the Prize Fight. The two remaining contestants have to decide to keep the prizes they’ve won plus a mystery cash amount worth up to $250,000…or Take It All and try to steal from their opponent. The catch is if both Take It All, they both get nothing. This end game has been tried on countless shows and it’s only ever worked on one, Friend or Foe?, because of the team dynamic in place. It feels tacked on and against the rest of the show. Yes, the show is called Take It All, but it’s all about the White Elephant gift exchange. They couldn’t have come up with anything else? Really? I find that impossible to believe. Not to mention, odds are, the show ends in a downer. Either both parties get nothing for being greedy and it’s a wasted journey, or we see a loser who we feel awful for and a winner who we hate. Friend or Foe? made it work because they kept it light and funny thanks to impecable comedic timing by Kennedy and the very nature of the low budget game. It’s not fun here.
As far as the intangibles, the show looks and sounds good. I still think it was a gigantic mistake to not have boxes of prizes laying out to choose from since a monitor is just not impressive, but it’s far from a deal breaker. Howie was as good as he ever is. He started very rough on Deal or No Deal but he was instantly good here. Take It All was remarkably well produced as well, but that’s to be expected with Scott St. John at the helm. He’s a pro and knows a good game show. That’s far more than can be said for any of NBC’s other recent attempts. It was well edited and the ADR was minimal at best. Having the on-set announcer was also a nice touch. Really, in terms of presentation, beyond having the prizes out there in boxes I don’t know what else I would have done. The crew did a great job so I commend them on that.
If you watched Take It All for the first 50 minutes and turned it off I think you’d leave satisfied. It’s hard to say that the finale today wasn’t exciting. I was very tense during the Prize Fight, yes, but I left the show not feeling good for anyone. I instead felt really bad for someone I didn’t like all show and had a bad opinion of someone I, conversely, liked. Some may like this and good for you if you do, but I’ve grown tired of the prisoner’s dilemma. It just doesn’t work. So despite a trip at the finish line, though, Take It All ends as a pretty solid, enjoyable hour. It’s hard to say if the show will click with audiences but, at least personally, I’ll be tuning in for the remainder of the episodes if I can.