Like one of those weird gravitational vortexes you read about in physics (or by watching too much Star Trek,) NBC’s Deal or No Deal sucks you into a game show where the goal is to open a series of briefcases at random. And darn it all, I can’t stop watching. Does this mean there is something wrong with me for enjoying the show? Maybe it’s time for therapy.
If you’ve never heard of the show, the premise is very simple. There are a number of briefcases, each containing from one cent up to one million dollars. No one knows what amount is in each briefcase. The briefcases are held by models (we even get to learn their names…the models, not the briefcases). A contestant picks a briefcase, which becomes “their” briefcase, and depending on how they play the game, they’ll walk away with the amount that’s inside. Which could be a penny or a million dollars.
That’s it. Contestants begin choosing briefcases at random, and as each briefcase is opened, the amount inside is revealed. For each round a certain number of briefcases must be selected. As the dollar amounts are cleared off the board, an unseen “banker” makes various offers to purchase the contestant’s briefcase, which go up or down depending on the dollar amounts already cleared from the board. I suppose if there is a strategy involved it would be the ability to figure odds once you reach a certain stage in the game.
As I said, despite the simplicity, the show is actually fun to watch. Call me surprised. And yes, it is possible to create tension from the random choices made by the contestants, because no one knows what is in their briefcase.
The show is hosted by Howie Mandel. You might be thinking that “Howie Mandel” and “game show” do not fit together, but Mandel is surprisingly effective as host. I was expecting him to be like his stand-up comic persona, but he’s not. Not that he has much to do, other than ask each model by name to open their briefcase, but he refrains from comedic antics and in fact seems to take the proceedings quite seriously.
Deal or No Deal is an international phenomenon, first debuting in Australia in 2003. It currently airs in 38 countries.
Make no mistake, Deal or No Deal will not stimulate your intelligence since little thinking is required to enjoy watching it. I usually enjoy a game show where I have to use my brain, but sometimes you need to just not think about anything, and Deal or No Deal fills that role nicely. Recommended.