Endemol continues its campaign to lower IQs across America, rolling out this ABC game/variety show that blends elements of Dutch production giant’s “Deal or No Deal” with the Spanish-language “Sabado Gigante,” down to the scantily clad dancers and William Shatner’s garish crimson vest. Silly and loud, series feels too much like a slavish blend of NBC’s “Deal” and “1 vs. 100” but certainly goes into a warmed-up timeslot, occupying “Dancing With the Stars'” Wednesday stomping ground after a Tuesday preview.
The main draw here is Shatner, who in Tuesday’s introduction gets to crack wise with a gay contestant who enters wearing a “man purse.” When he isn’t joshing with him, the host adds to the carnival-like atmosphere by attempting to bust a move with the show’s 13 leggy dancers.
The game itself, such as it is, involves answering questions that pad the players’ winnings, the trade off being that a wrong answer deducts that much from the total.
As with “Deal,” those monetary amounts ($220,000! $180,000! etc.) are revealed by the models/dancers, whose skimpy outfits bring to mind the cheesy variety fare that populates the Spanish-language dial. Based on the level of banality here, putting it all in a foreign language actually doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
Despite the obvious desire to build tension, “Show Me the Money” (a phrase yelled, with no apologies to “Jerry Maguire,” every time a card is exposed) feels padded. At one point, Shatner even says, “We don’t mind you taking some time.” Apparently, the more space filled between commercials without doing anything, the better.
ABC is coming off a sequin-encrusted fall with “Dancing,” so the net is perhaps to be forgiven for taking this rather limp stab at breaching the gap between competitions, in much the same way that Fox has fiddled while waiting for “American Idol” to return.
That said, a predictable pattern is emerging with the recent game resurgence, as Fox’s “The Rich List” rapidly rolled snake eyes, mirroring the slew of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” wannabes that largely crapped out a half-dozen years ago. In other words, this giddy wave of gaudy gameshows will prove extremely short-lived if someone doesn’t break at least a little new ground. Because even with Shatner at the helm, this journey through the inanity zone already feels like a trek along the same old frontier.