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You can tell summer's around the corner when the local TV skeds are filling up with programming so light even the contestants on Laredet B'gadol, the local reality weight loss show, are allowed to consume it.
So it's bread and circuses season again on the screen, with accent on the circuses, a collection of game shows, talent hunts, etc. that won't be too unbearable even when the air conditioning goes on the fritz again.
Getting a quick start to the new season, Reshet launched the new game show 1 vs. 100 (Tuesdays, 21:00) recently, promoted wildly for weeks before with a spot featuring a person being chased by crowds through the streets.
The actual program is much less intense. Basically, it's a trivia contest, pitting one contestant against a battery of 100 "experts" in a bid to, of course, make money. This time, however, both sides can make money: the contestant if he or she gets the question right - in which case they collect a flat amount per "expert" who got it wrong, up to a grand total of NIS 1 million; or the "experts," who get to divvy up the contestant's night's winnings if he or she doesn't know which finance minister also served as Israel's ambassador to the UN. (Answers to trivia question below. NO PEEKING!). The "experts" include groups from specific fields, such as teachers, astrophysicists and pilots.
The good news is that Avri Gilad, whom we still remember fondly from his Haolam Ha'erev satire program days, and who does great work on Galei Tzahal's Hamila Ha'ahrona show (daily, 11 a.m.), is the host. He displays just the right mix of charm and humor to make what could be rather dry proceedings a pleasant hour, despite the obnoxious ads masquerading as sponsor messages ("A gift from Tzomet Books, who invite you to read more to know more!").
Naturally, things get a bit tedious once in a while. For example, for some reason, the producers feel that after each round, Gilad must repeat the same phrase over and over, as in "Let's play 1 vs. 100," then "Let's play 1 vs. 89," then "Let's play 1 vs. 74," etc. as experts are eliminated along the way. You're also at the mercy of whoever that night's contestants are. On the premiere, we got Yasmin, who was way, way too perky, trying too hard to maintain her upbeat mood even when she lost ("I'm not going to cry! I'm not going to cry!").
It also seems like a pretty good gig to be an "expert" on the show. Besides making money, they get to be interviewed briefly by Gilad when they are asked to provide "first aid" to a contestant stuck on a question. The down side - they can appear pretty goofy when they get one wrong, like the astrophysicist who couldn't figure out which prime minister's wife rhymed with the name of a popular soft drink. "I was in the US for 16 years!" he claimed in his defense, making a bad situation even worse. One particular question knocked out all the astrophysicists, with the flashing lights around them deflatingly extinguished to indicate they'd been eliminated from that round. "All the astrophysicists are in the dark," quipped Gilad.
Fans of Jeopardy and similar US game shows will enjoy the program, as will those who simply love to watch individuals struggle with their own greed. Take what you have now or keep playing for MORE MONEY??!!! is the dilemma each contestant faces after each round. And honestly, is there any more basic question facing mankind today?
Well, yeah, of course, but if you answered no there for a moment, this show's for you. Watch it with a nice piece of watermelon and a glass of ice tea, and no studying before the show starts. And by the way, 10 points if you answered Yoram Arid...