Friday, May 27, 2016

Not Ken's best night

How hard is 500 Questions? Ken Jennings lasted for exactly four of the queries. He was gone almost before the first commercial break.

This is not a quizzer for the faint of heart, or head. I knew some of the answers but pulled a blank on a whole lot of 'em. Although new host Dan Harris uses a softer tone than the first season's Richard Quest, the format still doesn't mess around. Contestants are skating on the thinnest ice from the get-go, and the questions start freakin' hard and stay that way.

The challenger who benefited from Ken's early exit managed to last for 53 questions, and she racked up a few bucks. But you've got to make it through thirty questions to earn a dime, and that's no gimme on this show. The showrunners guard the prize budget better than Brinks.

500 Questions caught some grief for slow pacing in the first season. They've hurried things a bit in the second series, and added a two-minute lightning round for more giddy-up. I thought the pace complaints were overdone last summer, anyway. The show held my attention with no problems throughout the two-hour debut. The gameplay is ruthless but nastily entertaining.

UPATE: Marc Berman at Programming Insider says that the show enjoyed a "positive return" on ABC. He also puts up a picture of Richard Quest, which is pretty funny. He's no longer the host, Marc. I dunno, the numbers were kind of okay but not great. On the plus side, 500 Questions was first in household ratings among the broadcast networks in the 9:00 PM hour. Overall, the show averaged 5.06M viewers and a 0.9 18-49 rating.



    The pacing was wonderful, the host engaging, game challenging. I only wish they would give up on the cliche that they think there' drama at a commercial break. Great game.

  2. I also give a thumbs up to the updated format. Dividing the game into 30 questions instead of 50 allows more money to be banked. The new host is not annoying like the previous one (the way he used to twerk when a player had to answer a multiple answer question was always disconcerting) and the contestants seem to have more personality.