Tonight, The Science Channel will debut its first ever quiz show, the Whoopi Goldberg-produced Head Games. It’s presented in an old fashioned, three-contestant format with a glib Alex Trebek-manque host, stand-up comic, Greg Proops (anyone who survives elementary school with that last name has our condolences and respect), who reads from index cards with science-based multiple-choice questions, like “What happens when you leave an egg in vinegar overnight?” Answer: The shell gets squishy! The video clues, featuring scientists in lab coats and protective eye goggles dipping objects into steaming vats of nitroglycerin, are the coolest part of the show, recalling that awesome ’80’s prime-time series, That’s Incredible! hosted by the dreamy feathered-hair heartthrob, John Davidson.
As I got antsy about ten minutes into Head Games, it occurred to me that in a world with Wikipedia and Google-able answers to all of life’s mysteries, educational trivia shows have lost most of their “wow” factor. And without that, what’s the point? I’m clearly not alone in feeling that these shows are quickly going the way of land lines. It wasn’t so long ago that shows like Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire were fun-for-the-whole-family cultural events and a regular source of water cooler conversation. Now the relevance of those shows seems to have faded to the point that they’re in line to become trivia answers to questions about TV fads of the late ’90s and early ’00s.
Maybe I’m being too dismissive of the vicarious thrill of watching some nerve-wracked nerd win a king-sized check. But I just couldn’t muster much excitement when Head Games‘ bicycle mechanic (seriously) took home a whopping $3,000 and change. I know it’s bad manners to focus on the prize and not how the game was played. But does anyone else feel like quiz shows are seriously tired? Will any of you miss them when they’re gone? And does anyone plan on checking out Head Games tonight? Edumacate me, PopWatchers.