TV Review: ‘The Million Second Quiz’

Million Second Quiz Review

Being live is a savvy gimmick, but that's the only distinctive part of this aspiring 'event'

NBC has seemed a little too desperate to turn “The Million Second Quiz” into “an event,” even marshaling the collective resources of Comcast behind it. Still, in terms of the shifting DVR-heavy TV landscape, “live” certainly makes sense as a twist on the old-fashioned quiz show, and much like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in its infancy, the pre-fall season timing is a good way to either jump-start the network’s launch efforts or, conversely, mitigate the damage of the gambit falls flat. The bottom line is if this otherwise nondescript concept works, it will be a triumph of marketing and little else.

Viewers who haven’t been paying close attention might wonder why the producers joined the show in progress, as it were, launching straight into a head-to-head matchup between a young guy already occupying “the money chair” and a sweater-vested challenger. Think of it as Thunderdome for people with a rudimentary interest in a lot of things, including current events and the weekend’s football results.

Being timely is an advantage, especially because it mitigates the need for real knowledge as a point of differentiation. The online component also offers a way to work in a little “American Idol”-like back story on the players, which has become increasingly common in gameshows — “Jeopardy!” meets Publishers Clearing House commercials — without really adding much to the festivities. (Affiliates even get in on the act, with NBC’s Salt Lake City station — if memory serves, the one that tends to preempt any of the network’s racier shows — surprising a woman with the big news she’d be on the program.)

Once the game gets going, though, there’s really nothing particularly distinctive about it — a throwback to “Twenty-One,” perhaps, with “The Weakest Link’s” color scheme, and multiple-choice questions about as hard as the early “You should feel like a dope if you go out now” rounds of “Millionaire” until near the very end of the hour.

The same goes for host Ryan Seacrest, who has turned blandness into an asset and wears over-exposure like a badge of honor. Sure, he’s perfectly fine and wildly enthusiastic, but based on his Fox Sports show, Regis probably would have taken the gig for free.

Not surprisingly, NBC larded the premiere with promos for its upcoming series, which gobbled up a sizable chunk of the 1,000 seconds or so of ad time. The hope, obviously, is interest will rise along with the stakes as big money comes into view — potentially totaling millions.

Still, having watched the opening 2,600 seconds of actual “Million Second Quiz” content, hey, wake me when it’s almost over.

TV Review: 'The Million Second Quiz'

(Series; NBC, Mon. Sept. 9, 8 p.m.)


Produced by All3Media America, Studio Lambert and Universal Television and Ryan Seacrest Enterprises.


Executive producers, Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman, David A. Hurtwitz, Ryan Seacrest. 60 MIN.


Host: Ryan Seacrest

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  1. Reliable knowledge, Thanks a lot!

  2. LIZ EVERS says:


  3. pm says:

    I think they wanted to put Million Second Quiz during these past two weeks against remaining reruns because they didn’t want to put it along with their new shows. Game shows on the networks don’t do very well against new shows in the fall so they place them in the summer instead. They really attract cable network sized viewership numbers, like 4, 5 or 6 million. They just don’t want that embarrassing rankings of 76th or 86th place for Ryan Seacrest because it would throw his own perfection streak/ being on time zone off. They can take 1st, 4th or 5th and NOTHING lower than that!

  4. The show is boring, I had to flip to “Cops”. The set is nice, the questions are hard to see on TV. No continuity. Why doesn’t the loser get at least a $1,000 or 10% of earnings. It’s so anti-climatic. The producers need to do something.

    • pm says:

      … Because to current game shows now, the lovely parting gifts given to losing or departing contestants like floor wax or a gift certificate or gift card to to their favorite store a well know staple on ’70s/80s era game shows, is cheesy, so they give them nothing. I think the loser should get $1,000 or $2,000, like they do on Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy now. More of saying Thank you for playing and competing in the game with the cash prizes. This new generation of game shows like last decade’s Weakest Link or Deal or No Deal don’t care about the losers!

  5. stephen melinger says:

    The show is too slow to watch. Many truly interesting and challenging game shows have been taken off the air. For example, “Duel,” This show is not original and not entertaining.

  6. pm says:

    I thought that Million Second Quiz was fun to watch the past 2 nights. Ryan Seacrest is actually that good doing the game show host gig. It’s very competitive the last rounds. Plus the quiz questions are very current, and you really have to follow the news and pop culture.Some of the answers were events that occurred the past 2 weeks, both pop culture AND world events and you have to have a good brain at that too. There’s not that going back to the past format that Jeopardy always uses. It’s very even with the Iphone /app trend, not the original podium format of past game shows. The set is very simplistic–not too much clutter on the stage, just Ryan’s platform and the contestants’ platform.

  7. dallas latham says:

    If this is what passes for intelligence, my dog has a real chance of defending her dogterate dissertation on the desire to chase squirrels. Quiz???? It was a disgrace to anything intellectual. It was an exercise in just how attuned one is to the stupidity of american pop culture and it just demonstrates how low brow and silly a society we’ve become.

  8. Darryl W says:

    I stopped watching it after the first commercial. Lame, lame, lame.

  9. Duff says:

    All hype – lame game. Big bomb!!!

  10. Barbara Magnotta says:

    I loved it – only for the show to succeed is to promote to the max. Good job!

  11. Linda Brounstein says:

    I enjoyed playing on line before the TV broadcast and wanted to resume after the show aired. Guess what? NO WAY! Could not sign in and probably lost my points. Wanted to play on my PC. Fix the glitches already! Surely NBC anticipated a huge viewer response but obviously their tech people are not up to task! What a waste!

    • L. Shmidov says:

      Same thing happened to me, Linda. But the biggest travesty is that the show pretty much sucks. First Hollywood Game Night and now this? I think re-runs of old Match Games with Gene Rayburn holding his microphone that doubled as a Q-Tip would be preferable.

  12. Tom Corddry says:

    Their audience participation technical platform appeared to basically crash around the time the show itself went live on the East Coast, and it stayed dead for about 12 hours. As of mid-day EDT today (Tuesday), the mobile app (Android at least) was playable but unreliable.

  13. Tom Iacovone says:

    A huge game show dud! Too much talk and commercials. Don’t need the drama. Keep it moving with more games and new contestants. Failed attempt to sync programming with app. Did not work correctly at all. Questions appeared too soon and options to pick from did not show directly after question. Result, no time to select answer. Complete crash halfway through. Now we are shut out. I, personally have no more interest. NBC, New Boring Contest.

  14. Mick says:

    Someone should really ask NBC or the production team the hard questions about the the tech issues for tis show. There has to be over 1000 negative comments on their Facebook page referencing a myriad of technical problems that have not, cannot, or will not be addressed or resolved. I know this is an ambitious project, but something is about to blow up in someones face and egg will be everywhere.

  15. Jill says:

    Server error since last night after the show. Lets goooooo

  16. R Boyce says:

    I was interested in playing along or playing at all but it seems that not everyone can actually play as the smartphone app isn’t compatible with my android device and no matter what I do I cannot get the play online option to work, not that you can play online during the live show – cuz that makes sense. Unfortunately, between the frustration and annoyance of not being able to play and the incredibly boring hour long premiere show, I can’t say I am likely to watch this again. I expected fast paced action not two 300 second matches – for a total of 8 minutes of actual playing time – and then 5 minutes of winner show down with alot of fluff, talking, and seacrest in between. Needless to say this was a let down all the way around.

  17. Jen says:

    I too am just getting a server error with the Million Second Quiz app. What crap. So much for being fun if it glitches on the first live day!

  18. Leigh says:

    The biggest disappointment is that after the show, I tried to go back to anytime play and there is a glitch in the iPhone app that won’t let the sessions open now. This is AFTER the sync with the live TV show.

    I am number 3 in my STATE and now can’t play on my app. If I reinstall, I start over.


    • Rob G from Skokie IL says:

      I can’t log in using Firefox on my Mac either. Fixing my profile (it changed my age to “under 13”) allowed me in, but it just searches endlessly for a player. It seems like their entire system is down.

  19. Rob G from Skokie IL says:

    The “synched” competition with the live show was painfully slow compared to the frenetic games I played all week online leading up to the TV event. Since the first show ended I’ve been unable to log in, receiving only a frustrating “server error” message. So much for keeping the attention of this player who accumulated over 100,000 points in nearly 400 games.

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