The particulars of “Crowd Rules” – an especially cheap gameshow, which is kind of amusing amid all the high-stakes finance on CNBC – are less interesting than the idea, and the business-news channel branching out to accommodate such an exercise. Produced by Michael Davies – who tried, and failed, with CBS’ similarly themed “The Job” – the show offers tips to small businesses, with a trio of companies vying for a chintzy $50,000 prize. Diminished expectations might be the best thing the program has going for it, though if forced to commit, it’s at best a “hold” recommendation.
The series derives its title from the fact the studio audience (less a “crowd,” really, than a few dozen people with too much time on their hands) determines who survives from round to round and ultimately claims the money. Along the way, the participants get a chance to plead their case, while a rotating “business expert” examines and appraises their operations.
Pat Kiernan – the anchor of New York’s local news channel NY1 – steps back into the gameshow arena, having previously hosted the WB’s short-lived quizshow “Studio 7” (also produced by Davies). He’s joined as a panelist by entrepreneur Kendra Scott, who appears to be making a pit stop in these cut-rate confines en route to fulfilling larger ambitions somewhere like Bravo.
CNBC is characterized by no shortage of theatricality – witness the ravings of Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli – but there’s still something notable about the channel widening its tent (as so many cablers have done) in an effort to expand its audience beyond relying upon the usual day traders and 401K-obsessed soon-to-be retirees.
For Davies – who brought the quizshow back to primetime with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” – the interest in these panel shows is noteworthy, once again returning to TV’s infancy in pursuit of programs uniquely suited to today’s limited business models.
In that respect, the producer is probably onto something, even if – as “The Job’s” quick exit suggested – far from the big money of Wall Street, the format for now appears confined to TV’s version of off-Broadway.