Like “Deal or No Deal,” “Minute to Win It” arises from the premise that “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was too intellectually demanding. But where NBC’s earlier gameshow relied mostly on luck, this one puts contestants through cheekily named games that run 60 seconds each, with the prize progressively growing toward a possible seven-figure payout. People have always enjoyed watching fellow citizens win money, and the lone innovation here is that players are encouraged to practice stunts at home. By devoting two hours to the premiere, NBC risks exhausting “Minute’s” 15 minutes of fame that much faster.
Hosted by chef Guy Fieri– whose enthusiasm appears to be erupting out of his hair– the program exhibits a shared theme in NBC’s latest batch of reality offerings, which could have been hatched in the 1950s. It’s a calculated strategy, seemingly, that tough times call for mindless entertainment, in much the way musicals diverted audiences during the Depression.
The stunts– which become increasingly difficult– feature everyday items, like stacking golf balls (“Caddystack,” of course) or trying to slide a cookie from forehead to mouth without using your hands. Fortunately, the challenges are pretty harmless, unlike the bone-bending derring-do ABC regularly displays on its summer hit “Wipeout.”
Admittedly, NBC can’t expect to rebuild its ailing primetime lineup with 22 hours of scintillating drama, so a certain number of these lesser bets must be laid down. It’s just that “Minute” is such a shameless mishmash of recent gameshows– including “The Weakest Link’s” lighting and design; “Deal’s” gratuitous-if-comely models; the rabid studio audience; and the icy, disembodied British voice guiding us through the gimmickry.
As someone who couldn’t believe “Deal” could keep “opening the case” to appreciative Nielsen crowds much past its original five-night trial, there’s a hesitancy to sell short something this simple– especially when it’s scheduled Sundays at 7, where expectations will be low and the audience can easily join the stupidity in progress. Even so, “Minute to Win It” feels like a quick-fix commodity at best, since this sort of concept looks destined to rapidly wear thin (like, say, by the third commercial break) in today’s fast-paced age.
One of the games is titled “Keep It Up,” which requires making feathers stay aloft by blowing them into the air. Inasmuch as NBC’s Nielsen tally has been flaccid for awhile, just finding something to help get it up– even briefly– would probably be enough.