Keywords: boring, low energy, Summer Sanders, HLN, why, game show, wasted time, pop culture, app.
First, a clarification. The picture at the top of this post is not from HLN’s1 new game show Keywords, which debuted Tuesday night. Rather, it is from the 1980s game show Talk About from our neighbors to the north. Not only did Turner networks not have a single usable asset available on their press site2, but the new show is about as exciting as a 1980s Canadian game show.
Olympic swimmer turned TV presenter Summer Sanders hosts this game which is an adaptation of an app. Teams of two buzz in to guess a person, place, or thing–usually pop culture-related–from a series of clues or keywords. The fewer clues required means more points are available. After two rounds of 10-15 items, the team with the most points goes on to a bonus round. A category is given and the team has 30 seconds to play Outburst/Talk About to come up with 5 of the top 10 keywords associated with the subject. Keywords thinks it is trying to play on @midnight‘s turf, but there is zero overlap in those two audiences.
Compelling game shows are difficult to produce, particularly if they are adapted from a board game. Adapting from an app, a source material designed to be a distraction more than anything else, seems particularly challenging in a way that makes one ask “why bother?” Although Summer Sanders does her damnedest to keep the energy up, all four contestants in the premiere episode were slouching and had an air of doing a friend a favor by showing up to this party. The game itself is not particularly difficult, there is zero strategy involved, and there is no reason for there to be teams.
I want the 12 minutes it took to watch this episode back.3