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Carrie Grosvenor

The New Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

By September 14, 2010

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Continuing our look at the new season of game shows, let's get into the new version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which debuted on Monday. We've discussed the format changes already, so let's talk about how the game plays out, and whether or not you're enjoying it now.

I'll go out on a limb and say that I like the new game. I can still play along, the lights and set changes look good, I don't mind the missing hot seat, and Meredith Vieira is still a class act. But let's make no mistake about this: it's no longer the Millionaire that we've come to love over the years. It's a completely different game. If another network/production company had unveiled a game show with this format while "classic" Millionaire was still going strong, there might have been comparisons, but they'd be two distinct entities.

I'm not sure if it's editing or the fact that so far the contestants haven't been big on overthinking their answers, but the absence of the clock hasn't seemed to slow things down all that much yet. I do miss most of the lifelines, and Jump the Question just doesn't seem to have the same creative oomph that something like Ask the Expert offers.

At the risk of sounding like an old stick in the mud who is resistant to change, the show is going to take some getting used to for me. That's not to say I'm not enjoying it - I am. But it's not Millionaire any longer, at least not really. I mentioned this before, but I really think that, in a couple of months, ABC ought to bring back prime time Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with the classic format. Even if it's just for a few weeks again, it'll be worth it to see the game being played the way we're used to seeing it.

And now it's time for you to weigh in! What do you think of the new Millionaire format?

Photo courtesy Valleycrest Productions Ltd.


September 15, 2010 at 10:24 am
(1) Myke25 says:

I’m liking it. The core of what makes Millionaire “Millionaire” is still intact: answer a series of multiple-choice questions for a shot at $1M.

Lifelines: I never cared much for Phone-a-Friend or Ask the Expert anyway, so no big loss for me. Jump the Question actually has tangible consequences if you use it…it keeps you in the game, but it takes money off the table. I like that aspect of it.

Shuffling Question Difficulty: Let’s face it…most players could answer the first five questions in their sleep. The only drama would come if someone would blow one of them, and that seldom happened. So it was like just handing players $5K for showing up. I like that the first question out of the box could be a killer.

Shuffling Money: I also like the fact that a question you spend a lifeline on and agonize over could only be worth $100. And that an easy question could be worth $25K!

No Hot Seat: In Game Show Land these days, standing up is the new sitting down. They stand to play Jeopardy…they stand to play WoF…they even stood to play Million Dollar Password! The only game you sit to play these days is Cash Cab! It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t affect the game itself. Players always looked awkward climbing up on those stools, anyway.

But hey…there’s no clock anymore. So you clock-haters have that! :-)

September 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm
(2) Fred says:

I hate the new game! No interaction with contestants, no suspense, or cool lifelines! Jump the question? Seriously? The game is no longer exciting! It’s lame! You only have 3 lifelines and 2 are really useless, and if you walk away you only get half the money?!? The clock was nice because there was that pressure on the contestants to answer and not sit there all day. I hope this is a huge fail and they change it back to the way it was. This new version offers nothing I would watch for.

September 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm
(3) Liza Simmons says:

I hope to get tickets I requested for October 6th…I’ve already been on Wheel of Fortune, I made WOF history by being the first person to get the $10,000 slice off the wheel. I love the new Millionaire show, and we will just have to wait and see how well I do on the test and hopefully interview!

September 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm
(4) Jack says:

To put it succinctly, this game sucks. Change for the sake of change is seldom an improvement and this is many steps to the rear. Poor Meridith… once she had a challenging game to present and now she must stand through tedium personified. Call this “Millionaire Tedium” and bring back “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” Please!!!

September 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm
(5) Wayne says:

Well, three episodes in and I’m just not loving the new format so much. I just don’t see the need or excitement of the shuffling money amounts. We also don’t need to see the audience go crazy just because the random amount to a random-difficulty question was $25K when really it is only $12.5K until after the 10th question.

So far it’s hard to tell if the obscurity and difficulty of the questions has changed, but based on what we’ve seen so far I’d have to say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It would be nice if they would add a lifeline by bringing back the double dip. Maybe they could do that with a “buy a lifeline” option since they are really only giving half the money they announce anyway? It could make for an interesting decision if someone had to choose maybe 10% of their bank to gain double dip (of course they’d have to use it on the question for which they buy it as you wouldn’t want anyone buying it for $10 on their $100 bank and saving it). I’m only saying this because two jumps is a little awkward, but I know as a contestant I would love the option.

Fred–I agree there needs to be more interaction as there used to be, but for now they have to fit in the repeated explanations of rules because it is so new, so we may see that later in the season. If they had just kept the game simple, there wouldn’t be so much need for that (surprised Myke25 didn’t say KISS). However, to say “only 3 lifelines” is a little strange as there were only 3 lifelines in 1999.

Like I’ve said since the changes were announced, if this is any good will come down to writing questions somebody might actually be able to answer.

I’ll be there October 8th, and what I’m most looking forward to (besides passing a test and wowing my interviewer so much they get me on the show in a hurry) is the movement of the cameras and other on-set changes–that stuff always fascinates me.

September 15, 2010 at 11:41 pm
(6) annie says:

If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.
I think Meridith enjoyed the former format..seemed more relaxed.

September 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm
(7) Myke25 says:

Hi Wayne! Still a big believer in KISS. And while the new Millionaire may not be as simple, I don’t think it strays all that much from what the game has always been…answering questions.

I’ll admit I’m not crazy about players giving back half their bank to leave the game, though.

September 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm
(8) Sharon Beckham says:

I HATE IT!!!! Why do they insist on fixing things that aren’t broke!!!

September 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm
(9) Determinator says:

Maybe it wasn’t broken, but was it doing enough for audiences? I was in and out on Millionaire, but this at least adds another dimension to the game and, as others have said, you still have to answer questions to get the million. That hasn’t changed, just the path.

September 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm
(10) imhomerjay says:

Change for change sake and if it ain’t broke=**I** don’t like the change, ergo there can be no rational reason for it.

Except that there can be a good reason for it that isn’t “just for the heck of it.” They have access to reams of data, not just the superficial flashes the public sees, and in there they might well see a reason that a change is a gamble worth taking. It’s not as though there’s no risk in standing pat–you have a very real risk of driving away casual viewers who get bored seeing the same thing over and over (and over and over). Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, the culture at large has decreasing attention spans–we (collectively) flit from one thing to the next at the drop of a hat. If they saw some erosion (or signs it could be a risk), then the smart gamble–always a gamble–is to try to find a way to make something look new, even if the core game (multiple-choice trivia) remains the same.

September 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm
(11) Myke25 says:

I produced a statewide lottery game show a few years ago. The show enjoyed high ratings and high ticket sales for many years…often getting higher ratings than Wheel and Jeopardy! Then, the lottery moved the show to a weaker station with a smaller coverage area. The show’s ratings and ticket sales dropped dramatically. Many fans thought the show had been canceled.
Three years later, the show moved back to our station, and I pitched the lottery a few twists to the game to rejuvenate interest in the show. At the time, I didn’t think of them as radical changes, but ANY change can be huge to a fan. Ratings rebounded at first, but soon dropped back to near the numbers at the weaker station. After a couple of years, the decision was made to return the show to the original format. But that did nothing to revive the ratings and ticket sales. The show was averaging a millionaire-a-month, but was just budgeted for 7-8 a year. It was bleeding money.
A couple of years, another format change and change of hosts later, the show was dead.

Changing a game is always a risk, but many shows have survived and even thrived after a format change…The Match Game and The Price Is Right come immediately to mind. Only time will tell if Millionaire will survive the latest tweaks to the game. But I can still match my wits vs. the contestants, so I’ll keep watching.

September 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm
(12) Babs says:

I HATE, HATE, HATE it! I agree with every single word Fred said. ( Fred posted comment #2 above.) If they walk away they should at least get to take all the money instead of only half of it because the way the amount of money they win is determined, is just plain stupid. The audience looks as bored as I do when I watch it. I really miss ask the expert and the double dip was good for strategy. Maybe they should bring back the 3 old lifelines and add a 4th, jump the question? I’ve been watching this show for years but if they don’t change it back I may quit watching it. As someone else commented, it’s a completely different game. Pa..pa..pa..leeeeeze change it back!

September 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm
(13) Jason S. says:

I’m writing this first without looking at any one else’s comments, because I want to give my uncontaminated opinion It makes for a great new game show but it really isn’t Millionaire any more; it is a NEW show with an old name. Watching it is pretty fun, I like it but it makes me miss the show that I knew and loved. Although People who have been keeping up on my insane rambling won’t be surprised to hear me say THANK GOD THEY GOT RIDE OF THAT DAMN CLOCK!!! LOL

I absolutely love Carrie’s idea of ABC bringing classic Millionaire back to ABC prime time; but to be honest I doubt they will do it. There 10th Anniversary edition didn’t get amazing ratings from what I remember reading.

Let me say that, I’ve never been a fan of change to Millionaire but I have to admit some of the changes over the years I’ve liked… The new money latter! I loved that! 5k is so much nicer to fall down to than 1k.

Now to read and respond to some comments; I agree with Myke, jump the question is a decent life line; but I also really liked PAF and 50:50; never liked Ask the Expert even if it did make for good television to have Bill Nye the science guy ponder a question with John Q. Public. I have to disagree with Myke there about shuffling the questions, I always enjoyed the game from a play at home aspect that it warmed me up too; also I like the progress difficulty aspect. Shuffling the money, is a fun idea too but still I like the good sense of hard questions being worth more money. I’m still partial to the hotseat though, I can’t stand seeing the set without it!

Wayne, interesting ideas but it seems a little radical…then again the whole show changing is very radical in the first place.

Only getting half your money is a good idea if you look at it this way… the contestant thinks; “I want all my money, I’m going to take more risks” so maybe we’ll see people go further and hopefully get up to some serious money and maybe give away 1 Million for once!

September 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm
(14) Lois says:

I absolutely hate the new format,the show has really gotten cheap giving away less money.Only getting half the money if they walkreally sucks!!!

September 20, 2010 at 7:14 pm
(15) Donnie says:

WE HATE IT!!! Put back the old one please. I am a student at at BU and a group of us used to watch it always faithfully until you changed it. Not even one of us like it now so we watch reruns of “Everybody Loves Raymund” instead. I miss watching Meredith though, shes smokin HOT.

September 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm
(16) Maureen says:

Why fix something thats not broken? I enjoyed the old Millionaire very much but I do not like this one. I won’t be watching anymore.

September 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm
(17) Barbara says:

I hate the New changes!!!! I want be watching the show anymore. Have being watching Millionaire since it has been on TV. Please change it back.

September 22, 2010 at 9:36 am
(18) Theresa says:

It doesn’t seem fair to have hard questions be worth possibly so little. It also seems to put contestants at a disadvantage to not be able to sit. They are nervous enough. I liked Mereidth’s interactions with the contestants in the hot seat setting much better. I no longer care very much if I miss the show. Also, I still miss the phone a friend lifeline and the ask the expert lifeline. Theresa

September 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm
(19) Troy says:

I am a fan of the double dip and ask the expert lifeline. Who took the chair? If I was sitting down I could relax and think better. Then theres the random order and the stupid jump life-lines? Why do tv game shows change drastically like that?

September 30, 2010 at 10:03 am
(20) Glory says:

What in the world have they done to “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? Watched it for 2 weeks, and won’t bother to waste my time andy longer. Meredith tries her best to make it entertaining, but to be honest, the show sucks. Just like government — they take somethig good and ruin it!

September 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm
(21) Susan says:

Someone else may have made this point and I missed it, but it’s obvious the changes were made specifically to put contestants at more of a disadvantage because TPTB decided they were giving away too much money!!Has anyone even made it to the 2nd round except for the celebrity week?BIG THUMBS DOWN! I am a trivia buff so I tune in for the questions and ff thru all else. I am especially sad because I was wanting to be on the show and was pretty hopeful to win at least 50K, with the new format I’d be lucky to win 10, if I didn’t faint from standing the whole time!!! The new show is a big ball of SUCK!

October 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm
(22) P says:

I just deleted the “new” Millionaire from my DVR’s record list. If Jeopardy or Cash Cab had only 11 questions per show, NOBODY would watch them. Guess they were trying to cut costs on writers’ salaries. What a frickin’ WASTE of time!!!

October 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(23) JANE says:

The new show is confusing and not nearly as good as it used to be.

October 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm
(24) Nick222 says:

I HATE IT. whats up with mixing up all the money values? it makes the show not as intense.

October 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm
(25) Kyle says:

Wow, what a bad change to what was an awesome show. I have been a hardcore fan since the beginning, but this is just too much. Getting rid of the original dramatic music is absolutely ridiculous!! Shuffling the questions and money decreases viewer interaction and is really really confusing. And what is up with meredith just standing there awkwardly, no hot seat. it sucks bad now and you lost my viewership. If the producers are reading this..I think you should change the show back, go back to the roots, what worked and what was successful!!

October 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm
(26) susan says:

Turned it on mid- show and was totally confused. Watched it 2nd time to learn rules. 3rd time to give it a chance. It’s the “New Coke” of game shows!

I’m done.

October 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(27) Vikki says:

This move appears to be a cost-saving measure. The new format is senseless. Bring back the old format!

October 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm
(28) jane says:

Oh God , I hate it. The ‘random thing’– there is no strategy anymore. I think it has been dumbed down and made a little more like that heinous show Deal or No Deal which I find completely unwatchable. It figures though, our citizens is retarded.

October 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm
(29) Joe says:

i hate it. the old game was so much better. this version is boring. i thought it was just gonna be for a week or so just for a change but i found out it is permanent. if it doesn’t change back i won’t be watching for much longer.

October 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm
(30) zubbs says:

This was my all-time favorite game show when Regis used to host. However I absolutely cannot stand Ms. Viera. She’s condescending and smug (especially to male contestents who she seems to love belittling). And her little fake-outs to try and throw the contestent off which she thinks are so clever just drive me nuts. It’s good they got rid of the clock though, putting that in totally killed the drama.

October 13, 2010 at 8:00 am
(31) PatinPA says:

My husband & I were completely confused by the new format. What was obvious from the beginning, though, was that it would be very easy now for some producer backstage to rig which contestant gets more money than another, since no one knows the dollar value of a question till it’s revealed. Compare this to Jeopardy, where everyone, audience included, knows what they are playing for; this new Millionaire format is yet another attempt to ‘level the field’ – in other words, don’t let the really brilliant people show off, because some of the lesser-brains may have their self-esteem bruised.

October 13, 2010 at 11:15 am
(32) Amy says:

I cannot believe how much they have changed this game in one season. I think they have absolutely ruined it. I agree with the writer who said this game is not Who Wants to be a Millionaire anymore. Hate the random amounts of money which are wholly unrelated to the difficulty of the question — what is the point? Why agonize over a hard question you can just skip, since it might be for little money anyway? And making it so easy to just skip questions? The drama of the original Millionaire was that you had to get through all the levels to achieve the shot at the million. That and the spooky music, of course, which is gone. Now there is no strategy, as before, of saving lifelines, or choosing the right lifeline for a particular question, etc.

The new standing up format reminds me too much of the Howie Mandel show and takes away what was original in the show (the “hot seat” — the interaction). Can you imagine this format being portrayed in Slumdog Millionaire? No, because it’s the same old cr*p as every other show.

Can you tell I hate this show? Yes, other shows have tinkered with their formats, but Wheel and Jeopardy and Price is Right didn’t change the whole game the way Millionaire has. I used to want to be contestant on this show, but I wouldn’t want to to play this game.

I love the “New Coke” of game shows line, Susan!

Can they bring it back now without admitting this game sucked? Will they want to?

October 19, 2010 at 9:38 am
(33) Sam says:

New Millionaire is absolute terrible!

October 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm
(34) Conuraptor says:

I remember when I used to hate the clock format. Just near the end of the last season, I finally decided that I liked the clock BETTER. THEN THEY CHANGE IT AGAIN!

October 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm
(35) Lois says:

I hate it. . .my husband and I loved to tivo the shows and sit down after supper and play along. . .Meredith and guests look awkward and uncomfortable standing there reading a marque… ..it’s so boring now. . .we just watch the classic episodes that we tivo.. . .oh, well. . .all good things come to an end, I guess. . . .

November 18, 2010 at 10:04 am
(36) Gary Haynes says:

It sucks! I used to Tivo the show every morning to watch at night. After watching the new show a few times I stopped recording it. I didn’t think it would still be on the air after a few weeks.

December 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm
(37) Marilyn T says:

I used to look forward to it – now I hardly ever watch it. I don’t like the shuffling and miss the lifelines. Everyone looks so uncomfortable without the “hot seat”. As someone said, it’s like a totally different game.

December 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm
(38) Shar Caiazzo says:

I always loved this game and would NEVER miss a show! Now…it’s boring and the idea that they have to “stand” makes it very uncomfortable to watch! I HATE the new version and won’t watch it anymore. Sorry, go back to the old ways and I’ll watch it again!

January 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm
(39) Joe C says:

JUMPED THE SHARK!!! What a bore. They ruined the game and this is just plain stupid. No suspense, no tension, no pressure to answer quickly, no entertainment. This will be the last year for a once-great game show. The stupidity of network executives never ceases to amaze me.

January 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm
(40) ice234 says:

This new format sucks. If I can change it, here is what it would be:

The Hot Seat
The original three lifelines and switch question*
The original money tree**
The old music
No catagories
Fastest Finger

*50:50, Ask The Audience, Phone A Friend and Switch The Question.

** $100, $200, $300, $500, $1,000, $2,000, $4,000, $8,000, $16,000, $32,000, $64,000, $125,000, $250,000, $500,000 and ONE MILLION!!!!!

February 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm
(41) robott says:

Sucks! — BIG time

February 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm
(42) BetsyWetsy says:

I do not like the new version at all! the rules are confusing, I don’t understand when a contestant is lucky enough to get the $100,000 question and then they walk, why don’t they receive the money they earned from the first tier? I won’t be watching anymore. Hopefully no one got a raise in pay for thinking this version up!

April 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm
(43) drew says:

They need to change the gameshow back immediately!!!!!!!!! Millionaire might as well be off the air, this show no longer deserves to be called ‘millionaire’. Bring back the actual show and punch the douchbag who killed millionaire.

May 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm
(44) donna says:

The new format STINKS….I’m not going to watch it anymore.

June 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm
(45) Ron says:

What is the most money won since Sept 2010 in the new version?

April 30, 2012 at 6:15 am
(46) Rodney says:

1st off, the shuffle format is OK, but my oppinion is THIS:
1. They must play EVERY question. They CANNOT walk away at anypoint.
2. If they get a question wrong, they leave with $0 and they bring out another player who would try to answer the same question.

So far I only had two, so please agree with me with those opinions.

June 12, 2012 at 1:23 am
(47) Cameron says:

I really do not like this new format. The lighting effects are not as cool and dark as they used to, the sound effects and new theme song sound suckish and bad, AND the AWESOME CLASSIC HOT SEAT IS GONE. WHY? Why did it change? If I were in control, I would get the hot seat back, the light/sound effects back and the lifelines back. This new format is not as exciting as the old ones. PLEASE CHANGE IT BACK WHO EVER IS IN CONTROL!!


July 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm
(48) Alice says:

I really don’t like the new format. It’s ‘cold’ and lacks excitement, I prefer the old phone a friend and we can do without the ghastly family photos and sentimentality. The constant focus on the contestant’s supporter, over-reaction, shedding of tears is cringe-worthy: it’s more like an American production.

Please go back to the old format.

September 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(49) Thomas Plumlee says:

WHAT A CORPORATE RIP OFF!! The show takes back 50% of the winnings, if the contestant “walks away”. The ONLY way to win any money for 98% of the contestants is to “walk”. I HATE the new show. No more viewing from me.

October 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm
(50) Heather says:

This show sucks. I hate all the changes. It is a big rip off. If i do happen to tune in i see a lot of small wins of $1000. It’s so annoying that contestants don’t stay in the game for very long.

And they get so excited if they happen to get the $25,000 question right. But it’s stupid. They don’t get that unless they reach a certain point so I keep calculating in my head that they only have $12, 500 or half the amount they have in their bank.
They need to change the winnings, it’s just cheap.

May 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm

All I want to know is, has anybody won the million since the new format. I’ve been watching since FOREVER and nobody’s even come close. Is it winnable?

September 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm
(52) Donna says:

This new Who Wants to be a Millionaire stinks!! It has become a circus! I literally hate it! And unless you get back to the good ole way and respect and just plain fun watching and get rid of this clown.. I unfortunately will stop watching it. And I loved this program and looked forward to it each day. Please, please I beg of you.. do something and get this program back to being the great show it once was for years.

September 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm
(53) Donna says:

This new Who Wants to be a Millionaire stinks!! It has become a circus! I literally hate it! And unless you get back to the good ole way and and just plain fun watching and get rid of this clown.. I unfortunately will stop watching it. And I loved this program and looked forward to it each day. Please, please I beg of you.. do something and get this program back to being the great show it once was for years.

September 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm
(54) mona says:

I agree with Donna. watched this show daily before the new host. NO LONGER the new host seems to feel HE is the show.NOOOOOOOO Please consider a change….for humanity!!!!!!!!!

November 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm
(55) Cathy Levert says:

We use to love the show. Cedric thinks he is the show. I hate his electric guitar thing and he should increase his vocabulary from Alright Man and that’s Okay. He always sounds like he is yelling and he is trying to entertain so much it takes him forever to reveal and answer. Everyone I have talked to can’t take any more of him.

November 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm
(56) Marlene says:

I don’t see how they can say the $100,000 question is worth that. The contestant has accumulated a bank, say of $42,000, and if he answers the $100,000 question correctly, he does not get $142,000, he only gets $58,00 more, so how can the question be worth $100,000. And same thing on down the line. The $250,000 question is only worth $150,000, and so on and so on. Why is it worded like that?

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