Wednesday, November 08, 2006

real reality television

I have an idea for a quiz show. It combines the two things that apparently make a reality show popular: huge chunks of cash, and watching people make fools of themselves. I propose the title: In My Own Backyard. The premise: every week, you grab some unsuspecting sap off the street and ask him or her questions that you'd figure anyone should know, in exchange for the typical ladder prize scheme. You'd start with easy questions: "For a hundred dollars, when is your significant other's birthday?" and progress to trickier questions: "For a thousand dollars, does your neighborhood offer curbside recycling? Yes or no!" They'd work their way through questions about their own blood type, which amendment guarantees the right to a free press, and the correct tire pressure for their car, graduating to harder questions like, "Name your doctor's receptionist," and, "how many months do you have left on your mortgage?" When they hit the hundred thousand dollar range, the contestant would need to name their congressman.

For the really big money, they'd have to answer questions that presumably everyone knew the answer to at one time, but never really paid attention to. "How long do you boil spaghetti?" "The RCA plug for your stereo has two colors. Which color is the left speaker?" "How many stop lights do you pass on your way to work?" "How many light bulbs it would take to change all the bulbs in your house?" For a million dollars, they'd have to draw you an accurate diagram showing the relative positions of all the buttons and knobs on their microwave oven, or their car stereo.

I think this is a lot more interesting than quiz shows in which somebody gets rewarded for knowing the name of Alexander the Great's horse (Bucephalus, by the way) or the atomic number of gold (79). And it might make people start paying more attention to the world around them.

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