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Fox Produces Two Vastly Different Game Shows For Summer Lineup

The 1% Club is a new show on Fox.
Image CreditFox / Youtube

Television networks have been filling their summer lineups with game shows galore. Fox debuted two new programs the week after Memorial Day.

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Television networks have been filling their summer lineups with game shows galore. Fox has proved no exception, debuting two new programs the week after Memorial Day. While one puts a new twist on the quiz show genre, the other continues an unfortunately long line of game shows that consist of little more than slapstick humor.

“The 1% Club,” which features Patton Oswalt as host and executive producer, vaguely echoes the early 2000s quiz show “1 vs. 100,” hosted by the late Bob Saget. Whereas the Saget show featured a single contestant competing against an audience group, Fox’s remake is more similar to the popular British show, also titled “The 1% Club,” which sees the group competing amongst itself to win the cash prize.

Rather than answering trivia or general knowledge questions, as in most quiz shows, Fox’s “The 1% Club” utilizes the type of brain teasers more common to an IQ test. The questions, which incorporate logic and require contestants to decipher patterns, start easily, with a question that was answered correctly by 90 percent of Americans (at least in theory), and increase in difficulty.

The panel of 100 contestants gets winnowed over the course of 14 questions, with wrong answers eliminating contestants and increasing the cash jackpot. After the 14th question, any contestants remaining can take an equal share of $10,000, or choose to answer the 15th question — one answered correctly by only 1 percent of Americans — and receive a share of a cash prize of up to $100,000.

Even if the show provides a paltry jackpot based on prime-time standards, by comparison, I once won a similar amount on a syndicated program over a decade ago — “The 1% Club” gives a new twist to an old format. The 15 questions proceed at a relatively brisk pace, Oswalt balances levity and seriousness, and the word and visual puzzles provide relief from the usual quiz show material.

The Game with a Gimmick

While “The 1% Club” attempts to educate or at least enlighten viewers while entertaining them, “The Game with Balls” shows no such compunctions. The program, hosted by former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Jay Pharoah, demonstrates that one can base an entire television program around a gimmick.

Or, to be more precise, two gimmicks. The first lies in the show’s name, which leads to various Freudian references and double entendre. The second comes from the spherical objects in the show’s title, and specifically how they lead to visual pratfalls featuring game contestants.

The show features two families squaring off in a series of general knowledge questions, each of which have multiple correct answers. Family members stand on the edge of a pool, with spaces delineating each of the answers to a given question. 

Above them lie the titular balls, each of them on a track, which when released stop just short of the contestant provided the contestant has given a correct response. But if the contestant has stood in front of a space marking an incorrect answer, the ball will continue on its course, sending the family member into the drink. In the show’s second episode, a contestant inadvertently fell into the splash pool despite getting the question right, an accident that doubtless pleased the show’s producers to no end.

Therein lies the true point of the game: to show footage of contestants plunging into the abyss. Cameras provide slow-motion replays, because of course, and family members subjected to this treatment reappear, draping towels around their soaked bodies, to cheer on their remaining relatives in the game.

Only One Show Really Worth Watching

In theory, The “Game with Balls” involves families competing for a cash prize that can also hit $100,000. But the game seems a mere subtext for the physical humor associated with the plunge pool. And the pace of the questions appears so slow, presumably because the producers want to leave time for those slow-motion replays, that the game often appears beside the point.

For those looking for some light-hearted entertainment this season, “The 1% Club” provides a nice way to test their mental agility in a unique intellectual format. But anyone with a desire to see someone plunge into a pool of water this summer should eschew “The Game with Balls,” head out to their local county fair, and spend some money taking a few tosses at the dunk tank instead.

“The 1% Club” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central, and “The Game with Balls” airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central, both on Fox.


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