Part of the appeal of most game shows is that they are family-friendly. The whole clan can gather around the television and enjoy the competition aspect of the show, while playing along at home.
NBC's latest offering, My Dad is Better Than Your Dad, takes this concept one step further by putting families right into the game, letting them battle it out to win cash and bragging rights. Teams are made up of Dad and one of their children, aged 8-12. These teams go head to head in a number of different challenges, testing skills, strength, smarts, and, ultimately, supremacy.
Creator and Executive Producer of My Dad is Better Than Your Dad, Jon Hotchkiss, as well as the show's host, Dan Cortese, made themselves available for a media conference call to give us a sneak peak at what we can expect from the show. Both gentleman are dads, and both had a contagious enthusiasm for the show itself.
Jon Hotchkiss told us that the concept for the show came from an ordinary moment in his own life. He had purchased a "bouncy house" for his kids – one of those inflatable monstrosities that children can jump around and play in – and the time had come to take it down and store it away for the season. As he was rolling around on the house, trying to squeeze out all of the air to stuff it back into its small duffel bag, he thought to himself, "This is a show!"
Hotchkiss realized that dads all across the country were doing things like this all the time. "And it struck me as, if I could think up 10 or 12 more challenges like this, but only twice as big and three times more fun, that we might have ourselves a television show," he said.
Dan Cortese added that the games are indeed fun, but sometimes they're also tough on the dads." Sometimes they’re embarrassing for these guys. Sometimes they’re funny to watch. But at the end of the day, these guys would not be doing any of this if their kids weren’t right there with them and their kids weren’t cheering for them."
Cortese also said that people have asked him if this is a show for kids. " Well it is, but to me really it’s a show for anybody who has ever had a dad and done something with their dad," he said. "And that’s the experience that takes place in this show, and that’s why I was attracted to it."
One of the things both men wanted to emphasize was that the competition element on this show is friendly in nature. When asked if there were counseling services made available to losing teams, Hotchkiss likened the competition to Thanksgiving get-togethers, when the family divides up into two teams and plays a game of touch football. Everyone plays the game hard and wants to win, but then at the end, they all shake hands and congratulate each other.
"This isn’t the kind of show that embarrasses people. This is the kind of show that celebrates the relationships between dads and their kids. And it’s not one of those shows where people walk away feeling bad about themselves or that they got jerked around. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everyone, across the board, has come up to us to say what a wonderful experience they had, how much fun they had and how they’re going to remember this for a long time."
We were fortunate enough to get descriptions of several of the games coming up on the show. Each game is devised to test a certain skill set in the Dads, so they can find out who's the strongest, fastest, smartest, and bravest.
Alphabet Soup – Giant soup bowls, 12 feet in diameter, are filled with 1,000 gallons of "green goo." Dads have to jump into the bowls and retrieve letters floating around in the goo, and pass the letters to their kids. The kids arrange the letters on a board to spell out a word.
Human Dartboard – Kids are attached to a harness and sent flying across the stage by their dads. On the other side of the stage is a giant dartboard, and the kids have to stick Velcro darts to their targets. The Velcro wall is 40 feet wide, and two stories tall, and the kids are flying 15 feet in the air.
Bobbing for Tomatoes – This one tests bravery. A giant aquarium is filled with snakes, as well as a dozen tomatoes. The Dads have to bob for the tomatoes, using only their mouths, among the slithering snakes, and hand them off to their kids.
Another game, for which we didn't get the title, has the Dads firing giant newspaper balls out of an air cannon, trying to break the windows of the opposing Dad's house. Cortese called the set "a suburban cul-de-sac on steroids." The Dad who is not manning the air cannon is somehow trying to defend his windows from the attack. At this point in the game, there are only two teams left and the one with the most points moves on to the final money round.
The Final Round – The last round of each episode features only one team, and it's based on a Q&A to find out how well the Dads know their kids. Questions like, "What shoe size does your daughter wear?" are asked. These are the types of questions that parents actually struggle with, believe it or not. Each question is worth $10,000 for a correct answer, and there are five of them.