A number of our game shows originate in England. Remember “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? How about “Deal or No Deal”? Or that show where people tried to fit their bodies into holes in walls (I think it was called “Hole in the Wall”)? Those were based on British shows. Well, “Minute to Win It” apparently goes those one better—it’s a ripoff of a British show called “The Cube,” which is being developed for American television with Neil Patrick Harris as the host.
I don’t love NPH, but I don’t exactly hate him, either. I hate Guy Fieri. Blast him and the “creators” of MTWI for getting on the air first.
The premise of MTWI is that random people have sixty seconds to perform slightly humiliating tasks using everyday household objects. For each task successfully performed, they win increasingly large amounts of money, and if they perform ten of these acts, they win one million dollars. If that sounds like a fun concept to you then you and I should hang out some time. Unless of course, you think that putting Guy Fieri in as host is the icing on the cake. In that case, don’t call me; I’ll call you.
As I’ve already suggested, I don’t like Guy Fieri. I think I might have written earlier that I “hate” him. That might be too strong a word, since he’s never done anything to harm me personally. But I do find him to be the television hosting equivalent of an open, oozing pustulous sore that screams hipster jargon from 1998 and just tries so hard to be your friend, awesome dude. You know that’s how him. And. His. Homeys. Roll. That is. So. Money!
That’s how Guy Fieri talks.
As host of MTWI, Fieri’s primary job seems to be to make asinine observations in asides to the camera while the challenges are going on. For example, in the first episode (featuring a very large bouncer affectionately known to friends as “Big Steve,” you know, because his name is Steve, and he’s big), he provided the following commentary:
This is gonna be awesome!
He has got determination written all over his face!
I love this look!
Oh he’s concentrating!
He’s got everything shaking!
Everybody loves Big Steve. What a cool dude!
That’s one. That’s exactly the rhythm he’s got to get!
I hope he kills this. I hope he just beats this one down!
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, jerk, you’re taking his statements out of context. Of course they look stupid all in a list like that.” Trust me, context doesn’t help.
This is one of the official Guy Fieri photos released by NBC to promote "Minute to Win It." Does this make you want to watch the show? Guy Fieri holding a bunch of balls, pointing at them "finger gun" style? Can't you tell how off the hook he is?
Anyway, to the challenges. Big Steve’s first: empty an entire box of tissues in one minute. Big Steve pulls out tissues roughly one at a time for about 50 seconds or so; he just makes it in time.
That one wasn’t so bad. The next one, however, was embarrassing. Big Steve has a pedometer affixed to his head, and he is made to bob his head up and down over and over again. He must bob his head 125 times in sixty seconds, a task that would seem to be better suited to the participants of “Rock of Love,” or perhaps “Flavor of Love.”
Poor Big Steve’s entire body convulses like he’s got DTs. But he hit 135 on the pedometer. We’re even treated to a slow-motion replay on the “Power Cam.” Every jiggle of Big Steve’s ample body is amplified to highly comical effect.
Actually, there is a thin line between “comical” and “tragic.”
By now Big Steve has won $5,000, and Fieri asks him, hipster-style, “Do you wanna take the 5 grand and cruise?” By which he means, “Do you want to take the money and run?”
Do you think Big Steve rolls like that? No way, dude. This guy is off tha hook—what? He is going for it!
Next challenge: Bounce three ping pong balls across three dinner plates into a fish bowl filled with water but no fish. He only got one, and lost one “life.” (The contestants get three “lives.”) At this point, Fieri pulled Big Steve aside and they had a pointless conversation that I suppose was supposed to be some kind of “pep talk.”
“You got this?”
“I got this.”
“Let’s do this!”
Big Steve won the ping pong ball challenge but kept playing, because he didn’t realize he’d won. “I was so zoned out,” he explained.
At this point, Big Steve had won $10K. The next level would be $50K, and that would be the minimum he could win. Of course if he goes on and loses, he would go home with nothing.
“Stay and play, or cash and dash,” is the ultimate question, as Guy Fieri puts it. I really dislike this guy.
Big Steve decides to “stay and play”! And he gets his next challenge: To throw bean bags at six push lights to turn them off. What is on the line? Guy Fieri lays it on the line in his inimitable style (and why would you want to imitate him?)
“For fifty. Thousand. Bankable. Dollars,” Fieri says nonsensically (but emphatically).
Well, Big Steve beats that one down, finishing in just over 30 seconds. As Fieri puts it, “Dude, you tore it up my friend.” At this point Fieri brings Big Steve’s sons onto the stage with him and asks him to explain about how he wants to move to the country with the money he’s probably not going to win. I mean, we’re 47 minutes in and he’s (to quote Fieri), “Five. Levels. Away. From fifty thousand dollars!”
Next challenge, for $75,000, is to slide ten lug nuts off a chopstick and create a nut tower. Big Steve says he likes this game. That’s one of the program’s more endearing conceits: The contestants have been practicing at home. There are 60 challenges on the show’s website, so everyone knows what they’re going to be facing.
As Big Steve is about to begin this one, Fieri offers his most penetrating aside yet: “Everybody’s cheering him on. Everybody.” Like he can’t believe that a studio audience that is being told to cheer is actually cheering!
Another aside: “Ah, nice start… Ah, he’s shakin’, his nerves are gonna get the best of him.”
They do, too. He gets to seven nuts, and then failed. Fieri: “It’s not as easy as it looks, especially when you got seventy-five grand right. In. your. Ear.”
In his ear? I’m not sure what Fieri means by this one. Was the $75,000 (metaphorically of course) whispering in his ear? Is the ear the seat of nerves, or the consciousness?
But Big Steve still has one of three “lives” left, so Fieri pulls him aside for another pep talk: “This is the final sixty seconds in this competition if you do not beat the nut stack.” That is actually what Fieri says. You have to beat the nut stack.
Beat the nut stack!
Another aside, as Big Steve is preparing to make his final assault on the nut stack: This is go big or go home for Big Steve.
It’s go home. He doesn’t beat the nut stack.
Second episode featured a cute, perky 24 year-old nanny from Arkansas, but even she wasn’t enough to force myself to watch anymore of this show. It didn’t help that the nanny referred to herself as “Rachy-Poo” (her name was Rachel).
Sorry, Minute to Win it. You had your chance, but you failed. Or, rather, Guy Fieri did. I guess I’ll just have to wait for “The Cube.”