10 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
(the b-side Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 3B
* The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom the b -sid e Thursday, November16, 2006 -
SGame shows and why
they've come on down
By MICHAEL PASSMAN
Daily Arts Writer
I was sitting on my living room couch. It
was November 1999, and I couldn't believe my
eyes. The son of a bitch did it. John Carpenter
took down all 15 questions to become the first
person to win $1 million on the American ver-
sion of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Not
only that, but he went out in style, too, using an
extra lifeline to call his dad to tell him he was
about to win. Fucking baller.
While normal people probably have vivid
memories of what they were doing on the
morning of Sept. 11 or when they got their
acceptance letter to the University, I specifi-
cally remember when some dude took $1 mil-
lion dollars from ABC and Regis's tie budget
(the same ties I made my mom buy me for the
upcoming bar mitzvah season). I'm also the
guy who was a one-time member of a Ken Jen-
nings' Facebook group - I've since moved on.
So, as you can probably tell, I take this game
show stuff seriously. This is also why I'm more
than a little concerned about the current state
of the American game show.
These days the game-show formula network
TV gravitates to is as follows: Find one out-of-
work TV personality from the past, who may or
may not have an odd cult following; "develop"
an international game show for an American
audience, TV speak for "steal an old idea"; and
choose contestants based on how entertaining
they may be, and not based on how qualified
they are to answer trivia questions. If done cor-
rectly, the end product should fill in nicely for
whatever half-baked sitcom that never should
have been green lit in the first place. But that
doesn't mean it's going to be any good.
In fact, outside of "Who Wants to Be a Mil-
lionaire," none of them have been any good.
If you'll allow me to play the role of game -
how xenophobe for a moment, I'll tell you what
I mean. The simple fact that at least half of all
"new" game shows are simply adaptations of
ideas that worked in Europe is both lazy and
pathetic. Not only that, but it makes no sense.
Am I supposed to be excited because "1 vs.
100," sorry, "Een tegen 100," went over well
in Holland? I guess I didn't realize the Dutch
were creative game show geniuses.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not proposing a
It happens to 19-year-
game show fence across the border and I'm not
concerned that imported game shows are tak-
ing away the livelihoods of honest hardwork-
ing American game show creators. It's just
that there doesn't even seem to be an effort
by American networks to create innovate pro-
gramming. This is the country that made the
wheel synonymous with fortune. I expect
One of the few exceptions to this apparent
stagnancy of U.S. network creativity is ABC's
new William Shatner-hosted game show,
"Show Me the Money," which the network
claims is "Shat-Tastic." Ugh. "Show Me the
Money" is an original idea, but only because
the Dutch aren't asinine enough to run some-
thing like it. Basically it works like a standard
trivia-based game show, but there's a hook ...
William Shatner randomly dances with beauti-
ful women! I can't wait.
The best daytime game shows like "The Price
is Right," and pre-primetime ones like "Jeop-
ardy" work because they engage their view-
ers, and do so in a way that requires something
from them. I don't know shit about the price
of four snowmobiles, a grandfather clock and
a weeklong Austrian getaway, but God knows
I'm yelling out numbers when it's Showcase
Showdown time. I just can't picture a dancing
Shatner affecting me the same way.
The other issue with these new game
shows is that unlike "Jeopardy" and "Who
ACROSS THE POND
Some of America's favorite game shows actually
have a proper pedigree from other nations. Best
ot the worst:
The Weakest Link (2001) - A puckery British host
wearing a Neo-esque trench and acting like a bitch?
Fabulous light designs combined with people too
stupid to stammer out the word "bank" before they get
owned by the trivia writers? A real-tife Walk of Shame
and the occasional celebrity round? Fantastic! Too bad
the show started to suck after they got rid of Anne
Robinson and picked that other, wishy-washy guy, who
looked more constipated than mean. We can't even
remember his name.
Dog Eat Dog (2002) - Basically, the only good thing
about this show was Brooke Burns in those pleather
bodysuits she liked so much. Hailingfrom England,
all we remember about this is a lot of the challenges
looked like they might really hurt. And besides, does
anyone want to watch a show that bringsto mind an
image oone hot dog consuming the other? Thank God
it was canceled.
Deal or No Deal (2005) - In the Netherlands, this
show is known as Miljoenenjacht. Yeah, we don't know
what that means either. Those syllables probably say
something along the lines of "50 hot women open suit-
cases while everyone gawks at how dumb contestants
can be." It's no mystery why this show is a success.
Wants to Be a Millionaire," they use casting
calls to find entertaining contestants instead
of people with actual knowledge or common
sense. This won't be a surprise to anyone who's
ever seen "Deal or No Deal," as the contestants
consistently make mind-boggling decisions.
Really, the only appeal to the show is watching
the contestants blow their easy money. Well,
that and seeing if someone will successfully
shake Howie Mandel's hand (random trivia:
that bald head of his? It's because he's myso-
Maybe I'm expecting too much from net-
work TV, but it's only because I know the
cultural impact that a "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire"-type of show can have. So if you
regularly watch "Deal or No Deal" because the
contestants are stupid and it makes you feel
good to mock them, then do us all a favor and
stop. As long as people keep watching this crap
they'll keep pumping out more. It's simple TV
Jamaican Jerk Pit, located on S. Thayer Street, is the place for authentic jerk.
Festivals: no longer
us for the holidays
By PUNIT MATTOO and
Daily Arts Editors
Punit Mattoo: Jamaican Jerk
Pit might be the most distinct din-
ing place in Ann Arbor.
Kimberly Chou: If it's not the
loud yellow, green and red walls
downstairs or the "certified"
dread products manufactured
somewhere on Church Street,
then it must be the food. I don't
think there's anywhere else near-
by where you can get Jamaican
deep-fried food for so little money.
From festivals to fried plantains
to really good sweet potato fries,
it's the home of deliciously greasy
PM: I gotta admit, the $2 plan-
tains became an addiction recent-
ly. Though the small dough balls,
for some reason called festivals,
weren't nearly as good, regard-
less of how much honey I put on
them. They kinda just tasted like
KC: There's some Taiwanese
"treat" that tastes like this. I think
every culture has that one dish
where they take the leftover dough
they don't know what do with, so
they just make little balls and fry
PM: I think we have those,
too. Regardless, I still had a little
room for more food. I got the Jerk
Chicken sandwich on cocoa bread.
First off, the cocoa bread, made
with a mix of coconut milk and
butter, is nice just by itself. Pair it
with jerk chicken, and you've got a
great replacement for those bland
sandwiches on State Street.
KC: I was a big fan of the cocoa
bread, and I was pretty happy I
ordered it with my curried veg-
etable boat. Jamaican curry? Not
that good. The dish was a mix of
cauliflowers, green and red pep-
pers with a pasty curry. Plus, it
was served in a paper dish.
has nothing on
PM: It's called a pit, Kim. I told
you to get chicken patty or some
KC: You didn't sell me on the
PM: Blah. It's spicy and relative-
ly healthy. Well, maybe not that
healthy. But it's still good and you
should try it. Dr you could've just
gotten the Jamaican sweet por-
ridge with vanilla and cinnamon.
Perfect way to end the evening on
my way home from the UGLi.
KC: Whatever. Your food was
good so I'll trust you. For now, I'll
just get some more sweet potato
PM: Mmm ... cheap food.
Chick lit: Too much chic, not enough lit
By BERNIE NGUYEN
I'll be honest here - I can't
get enough of books. All of them,
from the hoity-toity perversions
of Nabokov to the cultural phe-
nom of "Harry Potter." I'm also an
absolute un-fan of books written
poorly (read: anything by Nicholas
Sparks). Who is this guy and why
does he sell thousands of books
when his main character in every
novel is a man who has somehow
fallen tragically in love?
But chick lit, an arguably recent
genre in the world of books, is dif-
ferent. I'm not quite sure how I
feel about it. A couple of years ago
I argued in a column that it doesn't
matter what you love to read as
long as you truly love it, as long
as it does something for you that
affects you - and I don't mean
affects you in the "Whoa, Dan
Brown has awesome anagrams"
kind of way. But what about books
like "Confessions of a Shopaholic,"
books of that ilk, with candy-col-
ored covers and kicky cartoon
renderings of every woman's foot
treading lightly on the words of
the title? The problem with these
books, as I see it, is that they basi-
cally do nothing. They don't move
you when you're reading them,
they don't frighten you or excite
you and they most definitely don't
educate you - unless you by some
chance don't know who Jimmy
Choo is. You might get a good edu-
cation if that's the case.
So what is the consequence
of this nothingness? When I've
closed the latest, oh, I don't know,
"Confessions of a Vocally Talented
Librarian Leading a Secret Life as
a Private Detective who Falls for
the Bad but Good at Heart Boy,"
what have I wasted, or won?
Well, I've wasted my time. But
really, it's complete and harmless
fun to read about Liz McNormal's
are more than
latest shopping spree, culminating,
of course, in a chocolate binge. And
I haven't wasted much time, have
I, simply flipping pages leisurely
while I tread the mill at the gym in
my coordinated jogging suit?
No. But the real danger of chick
lit is that it is precisely chick lit
- books that purport to tell stories
about women, plots littered with
real-life details and an appropri-
ately over-the-top description of
sex. But these aren't real women.
These are women who are either
impossibly thin or become impos-
sibly beautiful, whose "ordinary"
looks still somehow manage to
snag them the rugged business-
man who turns out to be a mil-
lionaire. These are women whose
highest aims seem to be saving
enough money for that newest
Chloe tote, whose personal cri-
ses revolve around relationship
issues and who are soaked in the
ice-cream-coated stereotypes of
women's problems. These aren't
real women. But do reading these
books make us believe they are?
A lot of people say that books
like these are escapism - stories
that purposefully draw readers
out of the colorless and mundane
routines of their daily lives into a
pastel rainbow room of designer
clothing and handsome men. But
what escapism? After I read some-
thing like this I usually end up
wishing that I was that thin, that
pretty, that gutsy and regretting
somehow that I don't have $1,000
to buy the latest Louis Vuitton.
Women like this must exist some-
where, living in a beautiful bubble
of facials at Bliss and casual sex
with no worries - a little like "Sex
and the City." And I do, believe
me, do, love shoes - but I'll let you
know the next time a pair of shoes
will keep me from making a nice
addition to my IRA.
What women are like this?
Which "chicks"? And what kind
of women - young women, girls,
even grown women- are reading
books like this and thinking that
this is what they must be in order
to be beautiful, popular, accom-
plished? When did it become OK
for a woman to tell another woman
that simply owning the right shade
of lipstick and piddling around in
a secretary's job will lead to that
ultimate of all dreams, marriage to
a desirable man? And why is it so
popular for women to believe this?
Reading chick lit is one thing.
But the real danger? That read-
ing chick lit will lead to wanting
to be chick lit, or worse, actually
being chick lit. Because women
really aren't the stiletto-shod
mall goddesses that lurk in the
pages of a $7 paperback. Because
real life doesn't allow for perfect
twist endings or life changing
revelations. And mostly, because
you aren't going to learn anything
from Sophie Kinsella that you can'tj
learn from living real life.
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