The title notwithstanding, "Million Dollar Money Drop" is a dime-a-dozen idea -- a modest twist on the familiar gameshow template that draws from multiple big-money contests but owes its primary debt to "Deal or No Deal." Granted, that simple-minded NBC program enjoyed a surprisingly durable run, but in terms of sustainability ultimately wasn't as leggy as its miniskirted models. Similarly, Fox might get some short-term mileage out of "Money Drop's" get-rich-quick (or not) formula in these recessionary times, but as alternative franchises go, the gimmick doesn't feel like a stock to buy and hold.
Hosted by Kevin Pollak with the requisite "And we'll find out right after the commercial … " enthusiasm, "Money Drop's" main visual flourish involves stacking $1 million in cash -- in $20,000 bundles -- in front of the participating couple. They're then given multiple-choice questions, betting bundles on what they think is the right answer, with the option of spreading the money around on more than one.
Put money on the wrong square, though, and -- Whoosh! -- watch it plummet down a chute and out of view.
Like "Deal," there's a bit of gambling based on odds -- especially since the questions, unlike "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," mostly involve educated guesses as opposed to actual knowledge. Given that, the quality of the answers (Fox asked that critics not reveal specifics) plays roughly on the level of "Family Feud."
That's an appropriate comparison, too, since squabbling among family members and friends will doubtless be another key component of the program. The preview features an engaged couple debating how to allocate the money, capitalizing on existing relationships a la "The Amazing Race."
Obviously, there are a lot of ingredients in this hash. And just as "Deal" launched at Christmastime, Fox will run "Money Drop" from Dec. 20-23 as a teaser prior to its scheduled January return on Tuesday nights.
Still, as the networks look for another unscripted game-changer, this feels at best like a utility player -- a hodge-podge of gameshows past. In other words, if there's anything else compelling to watch on another channel -- Whoosh! -- look out below.
Production designer, Anton Goss; music, Doug Bossi; casting, Katy Wallin-Sandalis. 120 MIN.