SINGAPORE: Win a cool $250,000 – without having to do much at all. That seems to be the premise of the new game show, Deal Or No Deal.
After years of needing at least a reasonably high IQ to win on The Pyramid Game, or having to be a repository of vast amounts of general knowledge to walk home with big money on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, MediaCorp TV Channel 5’s new game show offers a very attractive deal: Pick a briefcase containing anywhere from $1 to $250,000 and hope you’re lucky enough to get one that makes you rich.
The premise of the show – all money, no skills – puzzles some. A follower of local game shows, Tan Shi Jia, for one, thinks Deal Or No Deal looks “ridiculous”.
“Even The Pyramid Game required more intelligence than this,” said the 24-year-old graduate student, who feels that Channel 5 could have adopted a “smarter” show.
But reservations about the apparent “dumbing down” of TV aside, Deal Or No Deal may still have the makings of hit for a number of reasons.
For one thing, it has been five years since Singapore’s most recent blockbuster game show, The Weakest Link and, at its peak, Who Wants to be a Millionaire drew almost half a million viewers.
Although it is assumed to be a show where little or no talent is required, Deal Or No Deal feeds the enduring craze for get-rich-quick schemes here – which includes but is certainly not limited to the passion for Toto and 4D.
And its worldwide popularity speaks for itself: Deal Or No Deal has already been adopted by over 50 other countries and, in the US, it regularly rakes in over 16 million viewers a week.
This, and a predisposition for buying big-name franchises, is the reason why MediaCorp decided to adapt the show.
Said Channel vice-president Selena Ho: “As usual, Channel 5 prides itself on bringing in the most current, hottest, latest trends in TV.”
The fact that thousands turned out for the auditions seems to suggest that Deal Or No Deal is, indeed, an idea whose time has come.
But to find out whether it actually seals the deal as a bonafide hit-to-be, Today takes a closer look at the show and at Channel 5’s previous hits in the genre.
DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA
Contrary to what Deal Or No Deal may appear to be on the surface, the show’s executive producer, Jennifer Gwee, said emerging as a big-money winner isn’t a no-brainer.
“I think that’s one of the misconceptions of the show,” she said. “It’s not easy at all. You do need to know how to do some sums, and rely on gut instincts.”
However, according to the show’s host Adrian Pang, every contestant goes on the show with “some kind of a system”, before finding out that it all just boils down to “pure, dumb luck”.
Still, said one of the 26 women who hold the briefcases, during tapings that have been done so far, some of the contestants have become so emotional they’ve broken down.
“The reactions are all very real, and everything unravels as we go,” Gwee said. “They’re very real, very raw and very ordinary people.”
The contestants on the debut season are diverse: There’s a young social worker, a stockbroker and a retired teacher among others.
“When we were talking to them during the casting, we asked questions like: ‘How much of a risk taker are you’,” she said. “That they will make for interesting TV is a given.”
26 TIME THE EYE CANDY
Helping matters even more is the fact that Deal Or No Deal breaks with past precedent by featuring not one but more than two-dozen gorgeous hostesses.
In the first few years of local game show history, Singapore had only “man candy”: Benedict Goh, host of The Pyramid Game, was cute, but he was one person, and the show was sort of a dud and never made it to prime time.
Sure, there was former Miss Singapore Universe Eunice Olsen on Wheel of Fortune, but, like Vanna White, Olsen was more sweetie pie than vixen.
Deal Or No Deal, on the other hand, features Adrian backed by 26 women fitted out in skimpy dresses the colour of money. Almost all of them are professional models, and there’s even a former Miss Malaysia Universe, 22-year-old Andrea Fonseka, in the mix.
HOST WITH THE MOST
Considering there’ll be no nail-biting over tough questions or yelling at the TV when contestants can’t solve a puzzle, Deal Or No Deal will have to rely heavily on those women, nervy contestants and a host who can tie it together.
Going by the media preview – and whisperings from his 26 Vanna Whites – Adrian is very much his cheeky and sometimes erudite self on the show, which should come as a relief after the embarrassment that was Asha Gill’s pseudo-bitch persona on The Weakest Link.
But based on the initial tapings, Adrian said some contestants think he’s being mean. He said: “Part of my job is to lay out the facts and statistics to the contestants, and when I do that, they think I’m being insensitive.”
He admitted to teasing the contestants when they’re nervous, but only because it helps “relieve a bit of the tension”.
He added: “It’s about money, and people get really serious about money.” –
Channel News Asia