Tuned In

The Morning After: Descent of Man

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My initial interest in ABC’s summer series Downfall fell when I learned that it was not a spinoff of the online Hitler parody videos. Last night, I finally checked in on the game show, whereupon my interest fell even further. As did the contestants, the prizes and pretty much everything on the show.

Downfall, if you haven’t watched, is a quiz show in which contestants stand on top of a ten-story building, trying to answer questions before the prizes they’re competing for (or facsimiles of them) are dropped off the building on a conveyor belt. The contestant can win up to $1 million—or lose, and get dropped him- or herself, on a harness.

In other words, a standard primetime quiz show, overlit stage and all, with a bunch of crap getting dropped off a building. Which is fun for a couple of minutes, but I can’t imagine needing to see it more than once. I’ve actually grown to like ABC’s other summer staple, Wipeout, over time, but let’s face it: even a ten-story building cannot compete with the constant variety of ways a human body can bounce off a giant rubber ball.

In part, I think my problem with Downfall is that I simply get tired of the brightness and loudness that have become mandatory on every primetime game show, in the era of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Deal or No Deal, with their stages that look like sets from Tron. It actually might be more interesting of a network launched a primetime game show that went in the other direction—low-tech and small-scale, a la Discovery’s Cash Cab. But that’s me: have any of you fallen for Downfall?