Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (I) (1999–2009)
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(As of 11/20/1999) 4 out of 4 stars
Regis Philbin is uniquely responsible for its success. Sure they had the bright lights, the tense music, the flash and the sizzle. But it's Regis' intensity that drives the whole thing. The concept is simple. Contestants answer trivia questions. Each one gets harder and the money gets larger. There are a few helps. It's simplicity is part of the charm. Although Regis left the show, others have tried to resurrect it. It was running out of steam anyways. After its newness wore off, it's just not much to watch especially without Regis.
When the show started,the show reached an unexpected rise in ratings and popularity. Regis was definitely a great host.It also provides a lot of entertainment and excitement especially when contestants win big prizes to as much as $1 million. Too bad that it somehow its popularity went downhill after it became a syndicated afternoon show.But nevertheless,one would never forget the great memories that this show provided during Regis' time as host.
THE SHOW'S APPEAL and popularity were no haphazard case of dumb luck. It is obvious that careful planning and calculation went into the program's format, content and overall appearance of this production. No element was overlooked.
FIRST OF ALL, we see the framing of the appearance on the TV screens done up on a grand scale. Rather than having contestants appearing side by side with the MC/Quizmaster, the competitors are put into a sort of 'Roman Coliseum' arena of variable and sweeping beams of concentrated lighting. Much in the same manner of the Gladiatorial combatants, the challenger meets his foe (Quizmaster) face to face.
IN ADDITION TO this careful, micro-management of the lighting, we have both the obvious and subtle use of computer controlled recorded music. There is both incidental musical queues and the constant deployment of background mood manipulating instrumental and vocal soundtrack. Mood and "excitement" were very closely manipulated in this manner.
THE WORD THAT we are looking for is "Subliminal"; as the soundtrack quietly added the element of the dramatic and elevated our anticipation of excitement in this way.
EMPLOYMENT OF THE direction of the show rendered its overall running time and the highly dramatic pacing of the proceedings is done up to the maximum. Use of friendly chit-chat (interviews) with guests and timing of segments with stopwatch precision allows the padding out of the show to a full hour; where all ceremonies could probably be said and done within the confines of the 30 minute show limit.
CAPPING OFF THE totality of this late 20th & early 21st Century mega-hit was the ascent of Regis Philbin to the Throne of Ruling Potentate and overseer of all proceedings of the day. The highly durable Mr. Philbin was the perfect man for this position. Witty, energetic and always in control, he also possessed a genuine liking of the people who came to compete.
FOR SOME MONTHS after its initial show hit the airwaves, WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE was number one with the public. It was the topic of discussion around the old water cooler at many a break time.
BUT THEN, AS it seems much like all other "sensations" of the small screen, the novelty wore off. But this original, prime-time series ran from 1999-2002, or a healthy and respectable three seasons.
IT WAS FOLLOWED by the syndicated half hour version that went from 2003 until the present.
Finally, after all these months waiting, five months to be exact, I have finally made it to the big one hundred comments. For my one hundredth comment I will comment on one of the very best game-shows ever invented. I am course talking about the infamous Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I am telling you, this is one of the most entertaining game-shows to watch. I also like to see how many questions I get right. I also like seeing people not knowing painfully easy answers. You know, there is always one person in each episode to get an easy question wrong.
Here is the plot of this game-show. People are asked questions. The more questions they get right, the more money they will win. The questions get harder as they go along. There are only fifteen questions to this one million dollar prize. If you do not know the answer to a question you can use a lifeline. Phone-A-Friend, Ask the Audience, and Fifty-Fifty.
Overall, this is a great game-show. By the way, the first person ever to win one million dollars was John Carpenter. No, not the John Carpenter who directed Halloween and the Thing, a different John Carpenter. At least I think so. Anyway, this is one of the most addicting game-shows to watch. It is also a very fun thing to watch with your family.
Recommended Titles: The Price is Right.
Regis Philban makes the perfect host. He's non-obtrusive, but personable when he does get involved. He doesn't play at cheap unfunny jokes like Cash Cab's Ben Bailey, he doesn't have Ben Stein's annoying nasally voice, and he has more substance than The World Series of Pop Culture's Pat Kiernan.
The trivia varies, from extremely simple to extremely difficult. This assures that a viewer will at least be able to answer correctly, at least occasionally. And, being general-knowledge, there's something for everybody.
Most shows have far too much overblown melodrama that detracts from the show. Who Wants to be a Millionaire has unquestionably the most melodrama of any show I've yet seen, and yet it somehow works exclusively to its advantaged. Everything from the lighting to the music adds to this, even Philban himself. It's a show that has substance to it, some thick tangible feeling that makes the drama work. Everywhere else it always feels so contrived, but here it's a natural and necessary part of the show, and therein lies the difference.
Now, everyone is a rehash. Some of the same questions are being reused. The conestants seemed downright flat and uninteresting, and now we are all sick of "Is that your final answer?" and for some reason we no longer care how high the contestants get. You know why? Because it's all been done and won before, and this will be nothing new. If you disagree, just look at some of the ratings recently. ABC knows it. And, watching the show, you can't deny it, they are visibly trying to boost the ratings and make the show more interesting. They've boosted the scores, had dozens of "weeks", and Regis has even been trying a few new jokes. But the ratings haven't budged, and I personally nowadays OCCASIONALLY watch the celebrity editions, but only if they have someone I like on 'em. It'll soon be cancelled, and even from it's start, like in the case of "Whose Line is it Anyway?", the British version was better. :-)
I was so impressed at the Regis version; the fastest finger, the hot seat, the questions, the cash, etc. One funny thing, though: ever wonder what would happen if someone messed up on the easy questions? Would it say "Thanks for Playing?" Would it say "You won an autograph?????" Nope. It would say:
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY
Pretty funny, huh????? It looks elite, but it's not!!!!! LOL
However, there was a "Losers Week," if I recall. There have been many millionaires, too! I'm also glad that GSN still shows the Regis episodes; however, DON'T watch the current local version. Regis is better!!!!!
Sadly, at this point, the show gets annoying. While the questions are finally a challenge, the contestants get forever and a day to answer them. I can make my decision on an answer within a minute or so, but then I have to sit and wait for the contestant to finish humming and hawing over whether to use a lifeline or three, and then still be in doubt as to the answer. After what seems like an eternity, Regis finally asks "Is that your final answer?" and anyone playing along at home can at last find out the correct answer. This down time just kills what little flow the game had.
The show never has an african-american contestant. The show generated high ratings.
The British version has a better host and is exactly the same with various guests.
Nevertheless it is a show that beats the cheap re-runs on TV. So if you find it on TV, stick to it and throw your remote away cause it will entertain you for 30 minutes.
Why? Well, lets start with the title first of all. Who doesn't want to be a millionaire? Second, this show was good the first few weeks it was on. Remember when it was competing with 21 and all those other 'sweeps?' Sure we all tuned in to see someone in the hot chair answering questions that just may make them a millionaire. It was funny to think that I may just be one of the few lucky ones that made it to New York to meet good old Regis. Well, now when it's on like every night, the excitement is just a thing of the past. The contestants are no longer thought of as lucky, because look at how many chances everyone gets at the fastest finger question. Third, Mr. Philbin is one of the most annoying hosts I have ever seen. He wears the same tie all the time but that's not the thing that bugs me. 'Is that your final answer?' What's that all about? He can make a few cracks here and there but other than that, the show is drowning because of him. Stick with the daytime talk show. Fourth, the music. This isn't the most important thing and it doesn't even matter, but it is impossible to sit through one show listening to the same music over and over. Fifth, I could go on and on forever, the network is wasting precious time. It's basically the same situation. A person finally lands his/her spot in the center chair and just sits there staring at the question. I've seen people that waste five+ minutes just on one question. What's even worst is when lifelines are used on one question and they end up getting it wrong.
As you can see, I hate this show for many, many reasons. Why people are tuning in every week and keeping this show in the top five is beyond me. Considering that this is a reality show and it deals with people just like you and me, the public is going to watch this because they may have a chance of winning money. But seriously, for as long as it has been on, only two or three people have hit the jackpot. Has there even been that many? By the time this show goes off the air, almost the majority of the viewers will have been likely to be a contestant.