Halftime Leisure

Craig Ferguson’s Name Game Shows Promise

October 2, 2014

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Wheeeeel of Fortune! Deal or No Deal? These phrases are etched in our memory from wasting days away on our couches with the flu, Wednesday night neighborhood viewing parties, or even a spontaneous showing because you were intrigued after that episode of American Idol ran late. From producers Courtney Cox and David Arquette, Celebrity Name Game highlights our increased fascination and borderline obsessive knowledge of celebrities. From relationships to breakups, favorite breakfast cereals to vacation spots, we can tell you on any given day what the celebs are doing. Thank you Instagram and Twitter!

The premiere of Celebrity Name Game, hosted by comedian and talk show host Craig Ferguson, is here to rekindle that spark of game shows lost after the inception of reality television and Netflix. With each episode, four new, lively and eccentric contestants, along with the help of celebrity guests, demonstrate their knowledge of pop culture as they guess well-known names from Angelina Jolie to Yogi Bear.

Leaving his regular gig, The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson shares not only his wit and Scottish charm, but also begins every show by introducing the contestants. These “ordinary people” with big dreams express to him their motivation for that twenty thousand dollar cash prize. Then comes time for the celebrity contestant reveal. This episode, celebrities Will Sasso (comedian and actor, starring as Curly in the Three Stooges remake) joins longtime friends and band mates Lisa and Bridget. Next up, Nicole Sullivan (actress, King of Queens) helps soon-to-be engaged couple Pierre and Lauren.

Each player has forty-five seconds to hint, without including the word or phrase, at the large, illuminated celebrity name that pops up on the screen behind their teammates. Sasso successfully charades his descriptions of Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Amy Poehler, Darth Vader, and Seth Rogen. But surprisingly, as the time ran out, Seth Rogen was lost in translation as “Jonah Hill’s father,” which had the studio audience in stitches. But even without the points from lacking the Seth Rogen reference, Lisa and Bridget won four hundred dollars.

After a few rounds of guessing, Lisa and Lauren battle for the opportunity to play another round to win the grand prize of twenty thousand dollars. They went back and forth, correctly guessing, until the legendary Breaking Bad character Walter White flashed on to the screen without Lauren’s coinciding flash of her cranial light bulb. Pierre and Lauren lost as Lisa and Bridget moved on with three thousand seven hundred dollars.

The “Wonderelles,” as they call their musical duo, were about to be twenty thousand dollars richer. All that stood in their way were the names of ten celebrities. Shouting “Ashton Kutcher!” “Terminator!” and “The Pope!” across the studio as the clock counted down, both Nicole and Will guessed all ten correctly with the help of the Sullivan’s hints. The Wonderelles no longer wondered about the possibility of the money, but instead marched out as champions with deeper pockets.

This game show doesn’t shake the reputation of contrite and repetitive scripts from generations past. Those instinctive reactions of shouting, dancing, and hand gestures to earn the most points in a little amount of time are the only genuinely comedic aspects of the show. For instance, when Lisa jumped up and down while chanting like a Native American to convey Pocahontas. Celebrity Name Game ventures into a new era, in which it struggles to revamp the generic game show. But, if there is any way to salvage the tired concept, testing our knowledge of the very pulse of pop culture—who these celebrities are and how we define them—is a step in the right direction.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

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