A lot of modern television viewers, or at least those in younger demographics, view game shows as being somewhat old fashioned. Look through a ranking of the greatest game shows of all time, titles like Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune jump out at you as shows that have been around for decades. Those two examples aired their first episodes in 1964 and 1975, respectively. It’s impressive that they’re still relevant today, but it would also be fair to call them somewhat dated.
As noted by one article discussing the endurance of game shows, Regis Philbin and ABC’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire reignited the genre in 1999, ultimately reaching incredible levels of popularity. Millionaire peaked at 36 million viewers in its brief but spectacular run on primetime. It’s probably justifiable to say that it inspired more than a few other shows that even millennials will fondly remember. For instance, Deal Or No Deal and The Weakest Link also reached huge numbers of viewers before dying off. In some cases, they found new audiences overseas.
And it’s these series from the late-’90s and early-’00s that any new game shows will likely be judged against. Even now, a fun webpage discussing strategies for getting lucky on game shows uses several of these shows as examples representative of the genre—namely, Millionaire, Deal Or No Deal, and The Weakest Link. These programs continue to excite and entertain fans today as players still look for new ways to master the twists on the format. They are simply the shows that modern viewers can best relate to, and they were also the ones that managed to expand trivia and chance into more complex and thrilling experiences. While the likes of Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune are iconic, it’s difficult to argue that they’re more intricate, complex, or engaging than more contemporary game shows.
From the sound of things, we may be on the verge of a whole new round of shows that can match that complexity that will capture the attention of audiences in 2017. The New York Times profiled a few of these shows. The Wall, a forthcoming program on NBC, is getting quite a bit of attention due to the role of basketball legend LeBron James in its production. It’s a wildly active show, combining a plinko-like wall, trivia questions, and teamwork between two contestants at a time (with massive cash prizes also involved, of course). Then there’s Divided, which asks four unrelated contestants to work together to agree upon the answers to trivia questions before arguing over how to divide up their winnings. Finally, there’s The Game Of Dating, which involves relatively small prizes but challenges contestants to make predictions as they watch a live feed of a blind date.
These programs are all coming in the near future, and, if viewers tune in, could represent a new wave of competitive game shows. This is a genre that appears to have cooled off in recent years, perhaps losing numbers to talent-based competitions like The Voice and the Got Talent franchise. But if The Wall in particular can capture anything like the attention Millionaire once did, we’ll be entering a very interesting new era of TV.