October 20th, 2009

krazy koati

You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies

So now I've had two weeks of the new Wayne Brady-hosted Let's Make A Deal to my experience and can offer a slightly better-informed opinion than I could after the first week. It's a generally favorable one, rather more positive than I was going in, although since I expected a big, stupid mess going in that's not the ringing endorsement I mean it to be. The show's still a little bit klunky, I think nowhere moreso than at the top of each episode where Wayne Brady and announcer Announcer Guy --- I can't keep his name straight but it's close to Josh Manke, Kim Possible's crush the first couple years of that show, so let's go with that --- feel the need to explain just what a Zonk is, not to mention that contestants don't want them. (There's also a model, but I keep missing her name, for which I apologize, but she gets very little dialogue or activity that isn't pointing, so Brady and Manke attract attention.) You'd think the sight of a crumpled, orange Gremlin with dry ice smoke pouring out would be self-explanatory. But that seems to just be inexperience; even over the first two weeks Brady's been getting more natural in teasing out contestants and playing up the good part of the Let's Make A Deal format, namely, trapping people in their second thoughts. And by the end of the first week the closing Quickie Deal got around to the famous egg-in-your-purse challenge.

There's a disadvantage Brady has that Monty Hall didn't suffer from, though: this show's an hour long. The toughest problem Let's Make A Deal suffers --- and it's one shared by Deal Or No Deal --- is that it's pretty useless trying to strategize, past a vague sense of the mean time between zonks. Most game shows have some element of chance, yes, but they also usually have some part of the game within the contestant's power. Lacking any games to play, the show risks turning shapeless, and this has to be overcome by putting up steady novel twists on the ``take this, or that?'' question. Although Brady's show has been getting better at finding clever frames --- an extra Big Deal Of The Day one day, a bonus Quickie Round another, a set of homonymous prizes (``chili or Chile?'') another --- an hour is a lot of TV time to fill. It runs the risk of being a little too much in a block that long.

My mind always wanders to meaningless things, and the endless progression of prizes, particularly trips, the majority of which are not awarded to anyone drew me. Somebody has to pick out, and plan, and arrange for booking of a trip-for-two to, say, Scottsdale, Arizona, so that a proper price can be put to it; yet the majority of them don't get used. I assume with more episodes I'll see rejected prizes reappear, but it feels to me like it'd be wearying preparing these prizes that are essential to the show's existence yet unconsummated. I feel for the sense of futility I imagine someone else to have.

One nagging little thing: the online version of the show starts the closing credits with quickie deals, but then cuts to a silent black, under what I suppose is the teaser for the local news when this airs on TV. But it gives the closing a weird funereal air where I know that's not intended. Another awkward moment comes at the show's start, when Josh Manke announces, ``these people have dressed up to win cars, cash, and amazing prizes, and they've come to the Tropicana Las Vegas! It's time for Let's Make A Deal!'' It's true and yet without linking the Tropicana to the Deal trading floor it plays as a non sequitur. They've got to fix that logical gap or the show will keep getting off to an awkward start.

Trivia: Before the Convention of 1818, the northern boundary of the territory now Minnesota was described, by the 1783 Treaty of Paris, as running from the northwest corner of Lake Of The Woods ``on a due west course to the river Mississippi'', which does not in fact reach as far north as the Lake Of The Woods. Source: How The States Got Their Shapes, Mark Stein.

Currently Reading: For Want Of A Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won At Saratoga, Robert Sobel. Oh, this is a lot more fun than how the People's Almanac summarized it being.