In search of that old must-see sparkle, NBC played the get-rich-quick game-show card last week with a five-nights-only airing of Deal or No Deal already a ratings winner in 35 countries in which a contestant picks one of 25 briefcases that might contain a million dollars, and deals with an unseen bank that tries to buy that case for as little as possible. The trick seems to be working NBCs audience grew throughout the week. So whats the fuss about? I watched Thursdays show and found Kojak-bald host Howie Mandel explaining that for contestants to win, theyre going to have to be lucky, gutsy and have a great sense of timing. In other words, they have to gamble, which appears to be a verboten word you hear talk of odds but never the g word probably because it reeks too much of vice or lack of self-control. But really, theres no skill involved beyond knowing when to quit while the quittings good: no trivia knowledge, mental agility or gamesmanship required. Its a lotto game writ large, and represents the other end of the spectrum from an encyclopedic throwdown like Jeopardy. Still, its not unsuspenseful you inevitably ask yourself the titular question as the stakes rise but its little more than watching people agonize over taking free money or risking it for more. Not quite a game show, so maybe they should allow the more respectable g word and call it a gaming show.
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