Monday, May 2, 2011

Are YOU the Weakest Link?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

When The Weakest Link began airing in the United States, I was in the eleventh grade, high off of the greatness of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? which was still young. I didn't get hooked on the show, which ended up being a good thing, since it didn't have a very long life, LoL. I enjoyed the witty remarks that Anne Robinson made when she quizzed people about their choices for elimination and when she told the weakest links "goodbye." It wasn't the best premise in the world, but hey, it sure was amusing!

Brief history: In 2000, Anne Robinson began hosting the hour-long game show on BBC... and she has been hosting it ever since. The show will end its run in 2012, when her contract ends. Australia was the first country to come up with their own rendition of the show, and around forty countries have tried their hand at an adaptation. In primetime, The Weakest Link ran from the Spring of 2001 until Summer 2002, with some episodes not appearing until reruns on PAX and GSN. Anne Robinson hosted the US primetime version. Afterward, the syndicated version only lasted two seasons, and the second was considered by some to be a complete failure. GSN has the rights to both US versions, but is currently airing neither.

The game: (In the US primetime version) The first round is a series of questions, and each of eight contestants takes turns answering, continuing for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Money is accumulated as questions are answered correctly. If you're nervous about being able to get your question right, you can say "bank" before the question is asked. Then, the money that was built up before goes to a bank. If you get a question wrong, the building money is at zero. Once you bank, the current money is at zero and you start building that again as well. You can bank multiple times within the three minute round. [the photo at right shows the setup of the game, as well as the levels of money in the first round]  Any unbanked money disappears when the time runs out. If the maximum gets banked at any point, the round ends as well. At the end of the round, everyone votes for a "weakest link" (without the statistical data that the television audience is given), the votes are revealed, and the "weakest" link is dismissed from the show. If there's a tie, the statistical strongest link gets the deciding vote. The next round is 10 seconds shorter than the first, otherwise, the same rules apply. Same with rounds 3 and 4. Not everyone votes for the person with the wort record, since you also want to eliminate those who might pick you, since you win nothing if you're eliminated early. When we're down to two players, they play one round like normal, then a head-to-head round, where they are each asked five individual questions - whoever has the most correct answers after that wins it all. Or, in a tie, they just alternate getting questions until someone misses. The overall amount you could win was $1,000,000... but nobody ever won more than $189,500. Here's a look at a perfect round - no misses, just 8 perfect plays in a row:

Notable changes to the way the game is played: Round 1 became 2:30 instead of 3 minutes in many areas, and it even worked its way down to just 1:45 in the US syndicated version. Round 2 in the US syndicated became 1:30, Round 3 was 1:15, and Round 4 was 1:00. Syndication also had a male host, just six players, and only $100,000 could be won. Of course, it was also only half an hour instead of the entire hour. The final round only consisted of three questions each instead of five. It also The original British version started with nine players.

Special contestants: They had a tournament of losers, a Star Trek Stars game, a Fear Factor champions special, games where all competitors had the same occupations, and I believe another few celebrity editions as well. It has been speculated that there were too many celebrity games in primetime, and that's why it failed... coincidentally, there were no celebrity games in the syndicated episodes.

Favorite Rounds: This is another show where there are no easy ways to pick, as there aren't clearly separate types of rounds. But, I don't like watching the eliminations, and I usually get angry at the way people "bank," so I'm going to say that my favorite part of an episode is the very end - the fast firing questions. 

My take: Not really a show I'd want to compete on. I'm pretty wary of the type of show where you have to work together, then against one another. Plus, it would make me too scared and sad when people tried to eliminate me. And, while it would be nice to win $100,000, it always seemed like people should be winning more on this show... and it just didn't happen.

What about you... would you want to be on The Weakest Link? Did you like Anne Robinson as a host? Do you wish that GSN would start showing it again? Or, were you one of the many who just got sick of hearing, "You ARE the weakest link. Goodbye!" ??
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