Most boring game show ever?
August 30, 2005 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify a bizarre German game show.

While in Barcelona last week, picklebird and I saw a German game show on TV that has us completely baffled. The show had a very low-budget setup. 99% of the time it featured a single host (a generic-looking 20-something white guy) on a sparse set. The camera was zoomed in on the host’s face, which was on the right side of the screen. On the left was a small grid of letters that seemed to spell a German word; a couple of times it was an absurdly easy math question (e.g., “10-3+2=?”) with a multiple-choice answer underneath. A banner on the bottom had telephone numbers and a line referring to a jackpot of several thousand Euros. There were a lot of cheesy sound effects and often a timer in the lower left corner of the screen counting down minutes and seconds. Every once in a while someone would call in, the host would speak to the caller, and some weird interaction would take place. Once the host smashed piggy banks to reveal Euros inside. The jackpot seemed to involve the caller guessing what date would appear next on a tear-off wall calendar whose dates were in random order. While it seems pretty clear what the basic setup of the show was, not knowing much German we are still baffled by a few things:

1) Is this, as it appears to be, the most boring show ever devised? At least 90% of the time, it seemed to consist of nothing more than the host waiting for a phone call, exhorting the audience to call, and looking perturbed that no one was calling. As far as we could tell, the show is on 24-7. Is that really all there is to it? Besides frazzled travelers taking a late afternoon siesta in an unfamiliar hotel room, who the heck watches this?

2) The puzzles all seemed ridiculously easy. So why didn't anyone call in to solve them (other than the likely answer that no one is watching)?

3) OTOH, the calendar puzzle was ridiculously hard. Does anyone ever actually hit the jackpot?
posted by googly to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
Was the host one of those? It sounds like one of the shows they show on 9 live, a channel for seemingly easy phone-in quiz shows. Some people watch it, some call, a few even win - but the channel makes enough money to exist purely through its 0900-numbers.
posted by erdferkel at 7:45 AM on August 30, 2005

Yes! That's it! We saw that dude. But I still don't really get it. The same word puzzle sits up there for hours on end. And sometimes when someone calls in they don't seem to win. Is it not as easy as it looks?
posted by picklebird at 8:05 AM on August 30, 2005

We have a bunch of these in Sweden. They make their cash on the calls. Easy questions that stay on screen forever = many callers. The callers that get through are selected "randomly", not on a first called, first served basis. So they can pretty much keep it up for as long as they like.
If you get through you're almost guaranteed a small win, but then again, some people are incredibly stupid. No one ever hits the jackpot.
posted by mr.marx at 8:29 AM on August 30, 2005

Ugghhh... We have those dreadful "puzzles" in the Netherlands too. From what I've heard about the procedure, plenty of people actually do call in, but are kept waiting on the line for really long times, to rake up the phone costs.
posted by milov at 8:58 AM on August 30, 2005

As milov and mr.marx said, in addition to that they use cheap tricks like extremely ambigous questions.
posted by erdferkel at 9:09 AM on August 30, 2005

Since lotteries are illegal (either private or all of them, I'm not sure) they had to make this a game of skill. If you pass the game of skill, you are eligible for a prize that is randomly drawn.
posted by lockle at 10:08 AM on August 30, 2005

What mr. marx said. Cable TV offers you approximately 35 stations here in Germany, and three or four of them host these shows all day. You probably watched NeunLive or something similar.
posted by tcp at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2005

Looks like it was indeed NeunLive. Thanks everyone!
posted by googly at 11:40 AM on August 30, 2005

These channels are all over Europe these days, they're getting as bad as the bloody shopping channels. Come back analogue terrestrial television, all is forgiven.

The apparently ludicrously easy questions are quite often trick questions with incredibly tenuous answers. Generally, the callers collect up whilst the timer ticks down, their cash flowing away on the premium rate line whilst they wait. When a caller is chosen and asked the question (and finds out that surprises surprise 1+1!=2) all the others are disconnected and have to call again if they want another try.

This can go on for hours. I can't quite work out how they manage to get any viewers given the tedium of the programme. Maybe they're trying to catch people flicking through channels who haven't encountered the trick before and will call up thinking they've got the answer, or something.

That crap like this and cruddy ringtones can apparently be a big business makes me weep for the future. When manufacturing and services are all gone to the Chinese, we will have an economy based entirely on worthless shit.
posted by BobInce at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2005

oo, there are lots of these in the UK too, but they usually seem to feature scantily clad women. The trick to getting viewers, evidently. My boyfriend will watch hypnotised for hours on end. He never calls, though.
posted by corvine at 5:50 AM on August 31, 2005

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