Friday, February 15, 2008

Quiz show softballs

American Quiz shows are too easy. Jeopardy! pushes the level of obscurity to a decent level but I still occasionally throw my hands up in disbelief at the banality of the clues. At least the money on the show doesn't reach ridiculous levels.

The winnings on Who Wants to be a Millionaire don't go too high because so many contestants go for that one guess that knocks them back to $1000. But I just can't stomach the awful jokes that always sully option D of the first question.

1vs100 rewards a contestant for answering very easy questions -- but only if enough people in a group of 100 get the same question wrong. The show gives away a lot of money for pretty simple questions. And they're getting even easier.

The show used to ask questions that forced two levels of knowledge. All questions on the show are presented in multiple choice format. So the first level would come in the question section that asked something simple like 'which state comes first alphabetically?' The contestant would exhale with relief thinking Yes! I know the alphabet but then the 3 options would add a complicating second level.

A) the state whose capital is Columbia
B) the state whose capital is Augusta
C) the state whose capital is Frankfort

This format is especially tricky because at some point contestants are given the option of continuing or stopping after hearing a question.

But I haven't seen that question type used as much lately. Most questions now just involve one level and that level isn't all that difficult. Consider the following question from the most recent episode.

"In the play Cyrano de Bergerac what abnormally long body part did his peers marvel at?"

A) his nose
B) his toes
C) his fingers

First of all: there's almost a grammatical clue in there. The plural=singular mismatch does occur in native speech a lot. But in a written (and presumably carefully-crafted) question I suspect this was intended as a clue to influence even a baffled contestant to guess the right answer.

Second of all: who doesn't know that? How can knowing something like this be worth money?

1 comment:

  1. The real question is what (or whom) they had to know to get on the show.


Thanks for reaching out.

You can also contact me at wishydig[at]gmail[d0t]com.