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Old 04-03-2007, 06:16 PM   #1
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Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Is anybody watching this??? Jeff Foxworthy is so hilarious! I think this is my favorite prime time show right now.
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:16 PM   #2
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He's doing so good on it, I haven't got to watch a lot of it, but what I've seen has been great. He looks like he could be a teacher...
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:18 PM   #3
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I watched the first episode but I've missed it since then. Is it on after AI ?
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:26 PM   #4
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I watched the first episode but I've missed it since then. Is it on after AI ?
Yeah, on Thursdays! It's sooooooo funny!

Some of those questions really are tough to answer!
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:41 PM   #5
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^ Uhh, you're joking right?

The questions are so easy that the show is embarrassing to watch. I feel so embarrassed for the people onstage, which I suppose is the point? I watched one episode and got every question right, which isn't saying much at all. Actual questions: what star is closest to the earth? What ship did the Pilgrims arrive on? etc.

I feel like an old man on a rocking chair, whining about today's generation, but this show seriously sucks. The world already views Americans as being "the slow ones," and shows like this definitely don't help!

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Old 04-03-2007, 07:45 PM   #6
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Well, I usually know the answers to a handful of questions but certain stuff like "what is the the name of the phase when a star is at it's hottest?" is like middle school physics/astronomy! Who the hell remembers that stuff?!
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:47 PM   #7
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Hilarious review of the show:

Q. Have TV quiz shows been dumbed down for ratings? A. Ask a Fifth-Grader
The 64-cent questionToday's less demanding TV quiz shows are a far cry from the classic '50s brainteasers

Paul Farhi
The Washington Post
March 15, 2007

Ready, contestants? Here's your bonus question: Have TV quiz-show questions become dumber as producers pander to ever-lower audience expectations and the viewing public's general intellectual flabbiness?

Good luck, panel!

(Sound of time-filling musical interlude.)

OK, time's up. For those of you playing along at home, the correct answer is ...

Boy, have they.

Consider the premiere episode of the new Fox hit, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?," in which a contestant grappled with the daunting complexities of arithmetic.

"Two times five equals ... ?" he asked himself aloud, genuinely struggling.

It wasn't a trick question. The answer is still as plain as the fingers on two hands.

"Are You Smarter" suggests how far down the de-evolutionary scale quiz shows have tumbled.

Throughout TV history, the programs measured how smart their contestants were, rewarding them for their gray matter and their lightning reflexes. "Are You Smarter" celebrates the opposite, trafficking in the dimness of its adult contestants and glorying in their embarrassment.

The show's underlying premise is that its questions are within the intellectual grasp of a 10-year-old but out of reach of most adults (although it's not really clear how smart the 10-year-olds really are since, as a disclaimer notes, the producers supply the kids with workbooks to help them bone up on material covered during the show).

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Some of the questions are difficult, but it's unusual to get more than two real tough ones in a row. Among the questions in the debut episode:

•Name the ship the Pilgrims sailed on from Plymouth, England, to the Plymouth colony in America in 1620.

•Name the closest star to the Earth.

•What country has the longest shared border with the United States?

•What is the suffix in the word "undoubtedly"?

TV executives call those kinds of questions "relate-able," by which they mean "unlikely to challenge viewers too much and thus make them feel bad about themselves."

More than a few viewers apparently appreciate the approach. "Are You Smarter's" elevation of familiar, simple facts to brain-twisting stumpers has proved to be monstrously popular, attracting a larger audience for its premiere than any new show in the Fox network's history – some 26.5 million (although it admittedly was helped by following the even more popular "American Idol"). The second episode drew 23.4 million.

It's not just about the difficulty of the questions, though, or the lack of it. As with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," the rules of "Are You Smarter" stack the deck in the contestant's – and by extension, the viewer's – favor.

On the Jeff Foxworthy-hosted "Are You Smarter," participants have virtually unlimited time to answer, and can even officially "cheat" by peeking at the answers their child partners have supplied. If the adult contestant answers incorrectly, he can still be "saved" – that is, awarded a correct answer – if his partner has gotten the question right.

"Millionaire" seemingly invented that sort of crutch when it ushered in the new Dark Ages of prime-time quiz shows in 1999. It offered contestants "lifelines" whenever its multiple-choice questions got too rugged.

Now, the prime-time NBC quiz show "1 vs. 100" makes it even easier: Instead of "Millionaire's" four multiple-choice answers, it reduces the possibilities to just three, one of which is often absurd on its face.

A sample question from last week: "If Vanna White was shopping at a 'white sale,' what would she likely be buying? (a) linens; (b) a used car; (c) a vowel."

Some of the new shows have also adopted "Millionaire's" rule that enables contestants to walk away with their accumulated cash after they've reached a certain plateau – and after they've heard the next question.

It wasn't always like this, kids.

Many of the quiz shows that riveted the nation in the 1950s were positively Einsteinian compared with today's. It was a different era, of course. TV was a new medium, and trying very hard to prove it was respectable, even educational.

So shows such as "The $64,000 Question," "Dotto" and "Twenty-One" rewarded those with encyclopedic knowledge in such categories as opera, science and Shakespeare. Dr. Joyce Brothers, later to become TV's first pop psychologist, won the top prize on "The 64,000 Question" as an expert on boxing.

True, some of the shows were as crooked as a surgical scar, but they were still plenty smart. In their infamously fixed showdown on "Twenty-One" in the mid-1950s (dramatized four decades later in the movie "Quiz Show"), contestants Charles Van Doren and Herbert Stempel battled over biblical references, the volumes of Churchill's wartime memoirs and the names and fates of the wives of Henry VIII.

It's doubtful that anyone would have bought "Twenty-One's" scam if Van Doren had been locked in the isolation booth to sweat out the sum of five times two.

Although that heyday ended abruptly with the exposure of fixed results, more challenging games survived on the margins. "GE College Bowl" – the name says it all – ran from 1958 to 1970. And "Jeopardy!" helped revive the format with its debut in 1964.

Like "College Bowl," "Jeopardy!" contestants had to have a wide range of knowledge, and had a strictly limited time to supply each answer. The game also required some skill at wagering.

"Jeopardy!" survives to this day, of course, but it hasn't been immune to the general pressure to dumb down, says Steve Beverly, a professor of broadcasting at Union University in Tennessee who maintains the Web site TVgameshows.net.

Nowadays, he says, the categories are narrower – fewer foreign phrases, more pop culture categories – and the questions are often written to point toward an answer.

In "Jeopardy!'s" first incarnation, for example – with host Art Fleming in the 1960s and early '70s – a "Final Jeopardy!" question might contain a minimal phrase, forcing contestants to supply a fairly complex question, Beverly says.

That is, in a category such as U.S. presidents, the clue might be "Our American Cousin" – to which a correct response was some version of, "What was the name of the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated?"

In "Jeopardy!'s" current version, the process is inverted, so that the clue carries more hints. Today, Beverly says, host Alex Trebek might read the Lincoln question this way: "He was watching 'Our American Cousin' on the night of a fateful event." A correct question would be, "Who was Abraham Lincoln?"

Why has that happened? Beverly thinks the intellectual deterioration of quiz shows mirrors a decline in intellectual standards among viewers.

"We have less of an expectation of ourselves that we'll learn rigorous material today," he says. "We have accepted a degree of mediocrity in education. We don't really want to work too hard to achieve success."

So quiz shows are dumber these days because they have to be to attract an audience.

Fred Wostbrock, co-author of "The Game Show Encyclopedia" and the agent for such game show legends as Bob Eubanks, Monty Hall and Chuck Woolery, blames young viewers, in particular. Since advertisers want to attract younger people, he argues, it's not surprising that the content of quiz shows has become more frivolous to lure them.

The effect, he says, is that we might never again see the likes of such classic game shows as "Password," in which a contestant tries to get a partner to say a secret word by offering one-word clues.

"You could get 'kangaroo' by saying 'pouched,' 'marsupial' and 'Australia,' " Wostbrock says. "With MTV and 'Entertainment Tonight,' do young people still read? I doubt very many would know what a 'pouched marsupial' is anymore."
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:52 PM   #8
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I think the reviewer is taking the show too seriously. I find it funny and entertaining. It's perfect to unwind to after a hard day's work!
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Old 04-03-2007, 08:25 PM   #9
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Not my cup of tea, and didn't mean to derail your thread - if you like it, more power to you!
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Old 04-03-2007, 08:35 PM   #10
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No problem.
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Old 05-11-2007, 12:01 AM   #11
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I love this show
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Old 05-11-2007, 12:38 AM   #12
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I love this show
Me too!

I refused to watch it for a while because I don't like Jeff Foxworthy but I watched the last 2 or 3 shows and really liked it.

I can only answer about half of the questions though
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Old 05-11-2007, 01:18 AM   #13
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I always seem to get stuck on the US history questions

Canadian history
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Old 05-11-2007, 02:42 AM   #14
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I am enjoying this show, it's really challenging. I was getting sick of Millionaire, Jeapordy and Wheel!
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