Friday, July 7, 2017

What Might've Been: The Weakest Link (US edition) (2001)

At the turn of the century, with "reality" shows becoming a thing, so too were evening game shows coming back into favor. ABC started it by importing Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which is still running today in a compacted syndicated form.

In 2001, NBC picked up the US rights to The Weakest Link, a more challenging quiz game in which 8 strangers are asked to join together to build a bank that could reach as much as a million dollars. While the original UK Link ran for 12 years (2000-12), its American counterpart could only last two seasons on NBC, and almost as long in syndication.

Anne Robinson came as part of the package for the NBC version, but for the syndicated half-hour edition, comic George Gray, now the announcer on The Price is Right, filled the MC's position. Whereas Robinson brought her tart tongue and insults, Gray was a little more watered down, since his Link tended to air in the daytime.

Inevitably and predictably, as ratings began to sag for the NBC version, the network resorted to stunts, including 2 crossovers with WWE (it was still the World Wrestling Federation during Link's run on NBC), using celebrities and themes with charities winning the cash.

Here, though, is a sample episode with a cast of average folks.

By the time Link had arrived in the US, the networks were already oversaturated with "reality" shows, and began adding new games to try to counter Millionaire, which, at its peak, ran as many as 4-5 nights a week. NBC opted to keep Link a weekly series in primetime, which made sense, but resulted in a too short run.

Rating: A-.

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