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Who wants to watch a good show?


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Anna Roe

By Anna Roe
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 18, 1999
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The round stage resembles a futuristic gladiator fighting ring. Lights streak underneath the clear floor and across the onlookers. Dubbed over all this excitement is a theme song that sounds like something from "The X-Files." In the middle of all this is two tall stools, one that seats Regis Philbin, the other that seats one hopeful, everyday Joe. This is a typical scene from the quiz game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," which is attracting much attention, but is extremely irritating at the same time.

Starting with the host Regis, who makes my Most Annoying Celebrity list, along with Donny and Marie and Fran Drescher, overplays every eye gesture and every word that comes out of his yap. One particularly annoying scene, which I found composes most of the show, is Regis' apprehensive stare after the contestant answers a simple question. Then, after what seems like five minutes, he asks, "Is that your final answer?" For variety, he may ask it two or three times to the stressed-out player and have a short clip of eerie finale music.

Another annoying part of the show is the contestants who, for the most part are normal-looking middle-aged people, know exactly what they would do with the money because they have been watching the show in their home and know all the simple questions. This combination of easy questions and the seclusion of the home has boosted people's egos, so that those who would never dream of being on television wander to the telephone to answer a series of questions to qualify for the show. The result? Contestants who look like they are about to pee in their pants, they're so scared.

For anyone who has watched the show, you know what I am talking about. I haven't seen so much sweat since I last channel-flipped past a WWF wrestling match. Last week, one man appeared to be quite shy. Within three minutes of being across from Regis, the sweat started to flow, and then the hard swallows came - the ones that occur right before you puke. Needless to say, he didn't last long, and I wasn't paying any attention to the questions because I was honestly waiting for him to throw up.

Lastly, even the questions are maddening. Let me give you some of the starter questions: What are the colors that make up the Oreo cookie? A. Red and Green B. Yellow and Green C. Black and White. Or another good one was, What was the original color of the Post-It notes? A. Blue B. Green C. Pink D. Yellow. Watching, I notice that Regis still asks the player if "black and white" is his final answer. Questions remain fairly easy until one point, then they become more specific. Participants who had relaxed a little are sweating again. But the game is a complicated one. There are things called, "lifelines," which allow people three things. First they can receive an audience poll, they can request for two of the answers to be eliminated or they can call someone. Phone calls are the best. Sweaty contestant calls someone to help them answer the question, but most people on the other end of the phone are no help. It's as if they choose without thinking about who could actually help them.

One aspect of the questions I don't understand, is that after Regis reads a really hard question and the player doesn't know it, they can quit! You think that this would relieve some of the pressure on the contestants, but apparently not. This quitting concept defeats the whole game-show logic of being greedy, screwing yourself and being left with nothing.

My finding the set, the host, the players and the questions bothersome has not changed the fact that I still watch it occasionally. It has hooked me like it hooked 25.2 million other Americans on Monday. For me, it is more of a love-hate relationship. I love to hate the show like I love to hate the Backstreet Boys and will sit through one of their videos. So, the next time you are watching Regis and his show, nevermind that it is one of the most popular game shows ever, nevermind that it is on every night, making it hard to escape, watch it and hate it.

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