— MMC (@PlayMMCLottery) 1 May 2016
There is nothing quite like a great game show. Whether it is the dramatically lit sets, the charismatic hosts or the nervy contestants hoping to win major prize money or luxury holidays, they always offer up plenty of excitement and entertainment.
From Just Like Mom and Dad to something like Pop Quiz, such shows embrace a host of styles and it is often common to see those which have been a major hit in one country then be adapted and introduced into another. Take something like Deal or No Deal for instance, which started life in the Netherlands before then being launched across the globe and—of course—landing on our screens with Howie Mandel.
However, is it time for Canada to find a new game show format to embrace and, if so, what could be the best option? We think one show which has come to an end in the US in recent years may ultimately have what it takes to be a big hit.
Monopoly Millionaires’ Club was produced by Scientific Games and ran for about a year in the U.S., with Mike & Molly star Billy Gardell taking on the hosting duties. Shot in front of an audience in Las Vegas, the show had a unique style as it functioned alongside a lottery. Basically, people who played were entered into a draw to win a trip to Vegas, which included the chance for them to sit in the studio audience.
The audience were then divided into different sections which represented the playing pieces famously used in the classic board game. Audience members from each section would then stand up and take part in a range of games based on various aspects of Monopoly, such as Community Chest and Electric Company.
Those games tended to have a top prize of $100,000, while the grand finale of the show was Go For A Million. The general rules of that section were that a player would give up their existing winnings to take part, start at Go and have to complete a single trip around a standard Monopoly board in just five turns. Rolling doubles would secure an extra turn, although one caveat was that three consecutive doubles would lead directly to jail and no prize money. Any winnings would ultimately be split between the participant and their corresponding audience section.
The series was sadly cancelled in February 2016 but it undoubtedly had an impact on the TV landscape. Most notably it is thought to have created more millionaires in a shorter period of time than any other game show in TV history.
A fresh take on a classic
One of the most striking things about Monopoly Millionaires’ Club is how it cleverly takes elements of the old-school board game and breathes new life into them in imaginative ways. It is also perhaps a fitting testament to a game which has become a staple of many households across the globe.
While Monopoly as we now know it was first published in 1935, its roots actually go back even further to the early 1900s. As Smithsonian.com outlines, the earliest form of the game is thought to have been created by an inventor and writer known as Lizzie Magie. She is believed to have patented The Landlord Game in 1904, with the action revolving around a square board featuring different properties and players having to buy railroads and pay rent. The apparent aim? To actually teach people about the problems of income equality. Of course, in a way, the game we know and love is a little different to that, primarily as the objective is to push others into bankruptcy in order to win.
The U.S. version of the game was of course based on Atlantic City, while the UK version which went on to be developed by John Waddington featured locations that can be found across London. Many other editions of the game have also been produced through the years, with the first Canadian edition apparently being launched in 1982. As well as featuring locations from across the country, it boasted a host of other stylistic changes including player pieces such as a moose, a canoe and a hockey player.
But as well as inspiring new editions, the concept of Monopoly has been adapted into a host of different styles through the years. For example, online gaming sites such as 888casino Canada offer Live Monopoly, a money wheel game hosted by a live dealer where players have to predict which segment is going to come out on top. Furthermore, McDonalds Canada Coast to Coast Monopoly is always popular and again gives players the chance to win a host of different prizes.
How could it work in Canada?
But while Monopoly Millionaires’ Club undoubtedly had an impact when it was on air in the U.S., how would it ultimately work if it was launched in Canada?
Well, lotteries are played in different parts of the country so there is plenty of scope for one to be established to link up with the show. This would of course mean that its general format could adhere closely to how matters developed south of the border.
Furthermore, another thing to consider would be the type of board to play with. While the traditional Atlantic City version of the game is always an option, the board could of course be tweaked to reflect Canadian editions and this could mean that audiences in the studio and at home may relate more closely to it.
Finally, who could ultimately take up the reins as the host? When it comes to Canadians with ties to gameshows few come any bigger than Alex Trebek, but of course his long association to Jeopardy! in the U.S. and his recent health problems mean we can probably only dream on that front. It could be a great job for Howie Mandel however, who of course has experience of game shows through his work on the likes of Deal or No Deal.
Too good to ignore
Monopoly Millionaires’ Club may have disappeared from screens in the U.S., but we think that the concept and the way it adapted aspects of the board game classic are simply too good to ignore.
The game show could work really well in Canada and it would be fascinating to see if any networks look to take a chance on it in the months and years ahead.