Get ready for new era of dull TV quiz shows

I have a great idea for a new TV quiz show. I call it "The Throne," and it's set in a bathroom.

If you've seen the promos for "The Chair" and "The Chamber," you can get some idea of where I'm going without having to wallow in sordid and disgusting detail about the sort of rigorous trials my contestants would have to go through as they sit on "The Throne."

So, quiz shows now involve torture.

Who knew when they locked a contestant into the isolation chamber on "The $64,000 Question" some 35 years ago the natural outgrowth would be, today, someone pumping freezing gas into it?

Knowledge is not enough, it seems. You must now also possess moxie. Or, perhaps, the shows' producers are simply seeking to find the ultimate and perfect combination of smarts and stupidity.

You have to know enough to be invited on the show. You have to be dumb enough to accept.

I suspect, however, radical game shows are nearing their zenith. Until there is a program called "Answer the Question or Die," this is probably as far as they can go.

Therefore, I predict the pendulum of game shows will swing back.

We will soon be headed toward the routine, the mundane, the predictable. Yes, we'll be on our way back to "Celebrity Squares."

In other words, television of the sort favored by members of the Dull Men's Club.

If you're unaware of this organization (, then you probably haven't been spending enough time out in the back yard watching the dandelions grow.

The Dull Men -- highest office in the club is vice president -- are dedicated to activities guaranteed not to raise their heart beat or bring perspiration to their upper lips. Dull Men tell dull jokes, so as not to tempt fellow members to laugh too hard.

Example: What disease do retired pilots get?

Answer: Flu.

See what I mean?

The Dull Men are not entirely without purpose, of course. They have undertaken some strenuous -- in the purely static sense of the word -- endeavors on behalf of science and knowledge.

One of those involves exploding the myth "A watched pot never boils."

"We have proved that this is not true," report the Dull Men. "We like to watch pots of water boil. We have been doing it for quite a while now. The water always boils.

"We were going to do a scientific experiment to see whether a watched-pot comes to a boil slower than a not-watched-pot. We found that we couldn't do this. Without watching the pot, we would not be able to see when it starts boiling."

They are dull, yes, but practical.

On their behalf, then, and in case there are some TV producers looking to cash in on the Next Big Thing, I offer these ideas for the new generation of TV quiz shows:

-- The La-Z-Boy -- The contestant sits in a living room watching Monday Night Football. He attempts to correctly define Dennis Miller's obscure references. Bonus points for being able to explain some plausible connection with the game being played down on the field.

-- The Chaise Lounge -- The challenge here will be to watch The Weather Channel for as long as possible without falling asleep.

-- The Bean Bag -- A pair of aging, overweight, out-of-shape couch potatoes will be seated in bean bag chairs. They will race the clock, and each other, to see which one can stand up first. This will be an hour-long show.

-- The Lawn Chair -- In a suburban back yard, contestants will be situated in plastic-and-aluminum chairs and each given a garden hose. They must answer questions while attempting to keep the grass green.

-- The Park Bench -- Strictly for retirees, the contestants will sit side by side in the shade on a park bench. They ask each other questions, going back and forth until one can't remember the answer. Sample questions: "What's your name? How many grandchildren do you have? In which branch of the military did you serve?"

-- The Barber Chair -- This one would be a current-events quiz show, with the twist being that contestants seated in the barber chair will be required to give strong personal opinions. The more outrageous the opinion, the higher the score. Points will be deducted, however, if the opinion is based on actual, accurate facts.

-- The Beauty Parlor -- The female version of the Barber Chair. In this one, a team of contestants will take turns spreading rumors about the personal lives of the other team. Divorce. Pregnancies. Half-wit kids. The fun comes when we find out which rumors are true!

Key to the success of any of these shows, of course, will be the host. I can see only one guy holding the microphone for any of my proposals, a guy who is conveniently available.

Al Gore.

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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