Wednesday, April 22, 2009

12. Welcome back, Regis (unedited)

Just read that it's official, Regis Philbin will be hosting two weeks of prime time "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" this summer.

It will have been 10 years since the show debuted in prime time on ABC. The show has never went away, but it has changed/evolved since that initial limited run, and for the most part, it's still entertaining. It was a surprise ratings success at a time when networks still viewed summer as a graveyard for prime time television.

It returned for additional limited runs and eventually became a weekly prime time fixture, being broadcast multiple times per week. That overkill is sometimes blamed for its demise as a prime time attraction.

That may or may not be true, but its demise in prime time coincided with its launch as a daily syndicated offering, a program that has survived for several years in the nebulous world of syndicated programming. It seems to be harder, the daily show, with less viewers, doesn't seem as eager to give away $1 million as the prime time version was, from what I have read. And like most shows, the formula has changed a little bit over the years. The pay structure was altered slightly, the lifelines have changed, too. And this season they've installed a clock on each question, keeping people from dwelling too long on one question. That's both good and bad, I think.

It's not the best quiz show on television, that title still belongs to Jeopardy! But WWTBAM is typically entertaining and I'm glad to see it returning to a format that served it well in the past. I will be interested to see what rules they use for its return in August and if they up the ante. The show returned previously as "Super Millionaire" with a $10 million prize for two short stints in 2004, (a fact stories I read today seemed to forget,) so it's quite possible that we'll see something on a grander scale than what's being done on the daytime show.

In a world where the only prime time hit game show the past few years has been the overly dramatic, simplistic "Deal or No Deal," I say "Welcome back, Regis."

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