“The Million Second Quiz” Debuts Tonight and No One Knows What’s Going On
Tonight NBC will debut their event quiz show The Million Second Quiz at 8:00PM ET. And for as-much-of-a-big-deal as they are trying to make it seem, so far the event has been really rough. First of all we, at least and at last, have some vague idea of what’s happening. At least during the non-primetime hour a contestant will face off against the champion in the Money Chair who is earning $10 a second. They have 500 seconds to answer multiple choice questions by poking their selection on a monitor. Each right earns a point. Most right answers after 500 seconds gets in the chair. The top four earners stay in Winner’s Row until the end. There’s no real idea if anything will change by the primetime shows or by the end of the series.
And that’s a giant issue right now. There’s no real idea of anything. This was supposed to be a huge, immersive, genre-bending show and it’s been plagued by either not-thought-out format issues or massive tech issues. To start with the tech issues, the live feed, which was supposed to really make this a 24/7 experience for a million seconds, has been down for just about 24 hours now. We’ve missed 100,000 seconds or $1,000,000 of gameplay money by now. I know this is a giant ordeal to go through, tech wise, but I’m truly struggling to figure out what the issue is which would leave this totally off the grid for that long. We’ve got no real idea of how anyone is doing in the game, and that’s a slightly important factor for a game show.
The other issue right now is coming from, frankly, a really boring format so far. Quiz shows are not that popular in America for the most part. However, even in countries where they are, I nearly guarantee you’ll have trouble finding people with that much time to sit through constant 500 second bouts of people staring straight down at a monitor and poking an answer while not really talking. That’s not engaging for the home audience. It’s only engaging for the relatively small number of people who will sit and listen to trivia questions flying at their face for hours. I’m a giant quiz fan and I was having issues maintaining any interest after a few bouts.
Finally, one more issue comes from the money. I don’t know why it took this long but it’s starting to dawn on us that $10 a second isn’t really that much. I know money isn’t everything, but they’re billing it as this massive cash event and so far it’s extremely underwhelming. It’s barely matching GSN standards and that’s sad. I know they’re hoping for a Ken Jennings-like situation but there are a lot of factors to Jeopardy! which let Ken have that amazing run that Million Second Quiz doesn’t have. There’s no real strategy, no buzzers, no intricate betting maneuvers…it’s just staring at a monitor and touching a screen.
The money factor hit us when watching The Chase this weekend. On the season finale the amazing Raj won $125,000 after roughly 20 minutes of actual game play. That would take about three and a half hours to do here, and that’s jumping from tiny GSN to NBC. They give $25,000 away in upwards of 20-30 seconds on Millionaire now. You have to consistently win for an hour here to do that. It may be why we’ve seen them add some sort of $2,000,000 bonus or top prize to this. I think we’re starting to realize that it’s going to be a miracle if anyone gets above $200,000 or $250,000. You’re asking them to win for around 7-10 hours to get to actual tense levels of primetime game show money and there’s no one that they’re going to cast that’s TV ready that will last that long.
I’m seriously not trying to be negative. I want the show to do well but it’s just not worked out so far. I love quiz shows more than any other section of the genre. I do, though, feel like some of this could have easily been tested far beforehand but they seemed to carry the show solely on the $10,000,000 potential (of which even 1/20th of that would be nothing short of a miracle) and the fact that they built a huge hourglass in New York City. There is definitely a good format in here and we’re actively trying to like this and get involved, but they’re not making it easy. If they wanted this to be as genre-defining and the Super Bowl of game shows as they kept saying it was, I’m hoping tonight is a lot more exciting and that, currently, it’s just us genre-nerds bitching about nothing. Looking forward to seeing what happens tonight.