Monday, May 20, 2024

The 1% Club, on Prime and Later Fox

After Who Wants to Be a Millionaire the set design for gameshows has gotten fancier and flashier, but the questions have gotten steadily dumber. Take for instance The Wheel, if it still streams on Peacock after NBC canceled it. This one has all the sweeping spotlights, but the questions are a little different. An ability to recognize patterns will help you quite a bit if you are a contestant on the new American adaptation of creators Andy Auerbach & Dean Nabarro’s The 1% Club, which premieres Thursday on Prime Video, before later airing on Fox, starting June 3rd.

Charles Van Doren had his issues, but he was a learned man, so it would be interesting to see him compete on a show like this. The set-up ought to outrage all those critics of
The Bell Curve, because it presupposes a distribution of intelligence, but, of course, it makes no demographic assumptions therein. 100 contestants are given $1,000 to risk on a series of questions. According to statistical surveys, 90% of Americans answer the first question correctly. The next question should have an 80% success rate, steadily diminishing down to the titular 1%, for a share of a pot that could potentially be as large as $100,000.

These are not trivia questions or applied mathematics. There might be a bit of reading comprehension involved in early questions, but most depend on logic and the analysis of sequences. You could well be smarter than the participants, but you really have to watch. If you merely half-listen while multi-tasking, you will not see the sequences or spatial relationships the problems refer to.

This is somewhat different concept for a gameshow that clearly worked quite well in the UK, where the franchise originated, before spawning international editions in Australia, Israel, Germany, France, and now the USA (with future editions coming soon to Ukraine and several other nations). Evidently, there is an app that will allow viewers to play along. Yet, it doesn’t seem like it would be as fun to watch with others as Fox’s
The Floor, which probably had most of its viewers blurting out answers as soon the images flashed across the screen.

Frankly, Rob Lowe also turned out to be a surprisingly likable (and shrewdly self-deprecating) gameshow host. Who knew he had it in him? Patton Oswalt should review his work hosting
The Floor. Based on the first episode, it seems the American 1% host is uncertain whether to make fun of himself or the unsuccessful contestants. Instead of choosing a lane and a tone, he veers between the two approaches, somewhat erratically.

Regardless, Auerbach and Nabarro developed a few curveballs that keep the game-play lively. The size of the potential pot means there are real stakes to play for. It seems like Fox only programs Gordo Ramsey and gameshows at this point. Based on the premiere,
The 1% Club is better than most of the latter (but The Floor has it beat). Recommended for gameshow addicts, The 1% Club starts streaming Thursday (5/23) on Prime Video and debuts 6/3 on Fox.