When Comedy Central unveiled Win Ben Stein’s Money, critics applauded the cable net for the show’s creative format; contestants would play against each other to answer tough questions, and when one was eliminated, the remaining two competed against Ben Stein himself for $5,000.
Since then, they haven’t had much success with their other game shows; Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush wasn’t the hit the cable net expected, and their more recent Let’s Bowl gets less ratings than an infomercial for a do-it-yourself dentist kit. (Seriously, who would waste their time and watch people settle their legal disputes over bowling?)
However, despite these two big failures, they will not give up and sit idly by with just Ben Stein being their only game show. On November 7, Comedy Central unveiled Beat the Geeks, an unoriginal and pretty bad show.
The show goes like this: there are three resident geeks that have a scarily extensive amount of knowledge in the areas of music, television and film. A fourth, special guest geek joins in on the fun, and said geek’s knowledge can be in anything, ranging from Star Wars to Michael Jackson to Playboy.
Three contestants start off and try to eliminate each other by answering questions, like Ben Stein, the two remaining contestants play against each other, like Ben Stein, and the finalist plays against a geek, like Ben Stein, for a prize worth $5000, just like Ben Stein.
The whole ‘geek’ idea is pretty interesting, but the show just doesn’t pull it off. The show’s lighting and music is just like that of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and the format is very similar to, surprise surprise, Ben Stein.
But forget that. What really kills the show are two things – the easy questions and the host. Geeks has fallen into the trap of asking extremely easy questions, making the show just not interesting to watch. Anyone can answer these questions. The hard questions, to be fair to the contestants, are only asked of the geeks. This is too bad because any show is only interesting when hard questions are asked.
Personally, I think the show would work better if they had it as a team of geeks against another team of geeks. Instead, we get uninteresting contestants answering ho-hum questions while the geeks spout out cheesy threats.
But nothing is cheesier than the show’s host, J. Keith van Straaten. Looking like Drew Carey if he lost 200 pounds but kept his head, this guy does not hold anyone’s interest and gets swallowed up by the geeks. He does not have what is necessary for every game show host to have – personality.
Every host, from Chuck Woolery to Bob Barker and even Louie Anderson have some personality, but this one has none. He could go the Regis Philbin route and be just annoying enough to make people watch the show, but he is just too annoying and boring. When he tries to be intimidating, he comes off as confused, and when he tries to make a joke, he looks like not even he gets it.
His co-host, Tiffany, is another story. A true testament to what Comedy Central knows best, she is there solely for eye candy and keeps the viewer from changing the channel. But not even she can hold anyone to watch this pathetic attempt of a game show.
The next two episodes will come on at 10:30 p.m. after South Park and it will begin regularly at 7:30 p.m. on December 10th. For it to survive, however, Comedy Central better make a major re-tooling of this show, or it will fall to the wayside and hopefully stay there.