Monday, January 7, 2013

Lies, Theft and Howie Mandell

Intense. Satisfying. Thrilling. Sometimes painful. Often makes you sweat. Gives you a rush. Lies. Cheating. Stealing. Yes, ladies and gentlemen... today's topic is about NBC's new game show Take It All. For those of you who haven't seen this show yet, here is a brief description of the game:

Basically, it's a version of the Christmas gift exchange game called Yankee Swap/White Elephant. The first player picks a prize. Each player thereafter has the option of stealing that prize or taking an unopened one from the "Dream Screen". If a player's prize is stolen from them, they can either steal from another player or go to the Dream Screen. Play continues until all players have a prize. The object is to not end up with the least valuable prize. There are five players in the beginning and each round, the person who ended up with the least valuable prize goes home, forfeiting all of their prizes. There are three rounds like this and once the field is narrowed down to 2 players, the "Prize Fight" begins. In the Prize Fight, each player has the option to either keep his own prizes or Take It All, which means taking his and his opponent's prizes. The catch is, if both players choose "Take It All", they both go home with nothing. If one chooses Take It All and the other chooses "Keep Mine", the player who chose "Take It All" gets everything and the other player goes home with nothing. If and only if both players choose "Keep Mine" do both players get to go home a winner. (Some of you may remember this concept from the show Friend or Foe). Simple enough, right?

Alright, now that you have a little background on the show, let me fill you in on a little bit of the details. First of all, the prizes. The prizes on this show range anywhere from $5,000 to $120,000 approximately. Some of them are your typical game show prizes such as golf clubs or vacations or cars. But then there's the off the wall prizes, and when I say off the wall, I really mean off the wall. I have seen a personal submarine, a tree house, a sauna for your home, an log cabin looking office room that you put in your backyard, a water jetpack, etc. I mean... the sky is really the limit with these things. These are the prizes that throw the wrenches in the game. The traditional prizes are fairly easy to estimate the value of, but when you get these random ones thrown in, you have no idea what to think. I mean honestly, who know's how much a hot dog cart is worth?! (I do have to say, though, I did know that the water jet pack was around $99,000 because I read on the news earlier this year about the man trying to use one out in the bay to watch the SF Giants game.)

So let me describe to you a night of Jake and I watching the show together, pondering the depths and psyche behind the show. I mean, you can't just sit and enjoy the show... that wouldn't be enough. Every aspect of it must be analyzed:

Jake: I have a theory that I'm testing about the prizes on this show?
Cara: What's that?
Well, If you look at the pictures of the prizes that they show... some of the pictures look fake. They look like they're drawn on a computer. I think those are always going to be the least valuable prizes because I don't think they actually exist. That happened with the submarine last time and then that outdoor office acorn thing...
Yeah, maybe. They probably exist, but they're just prototypes or something that they can't actually give to someone yet, so they just make sure that it's always the cheapest prize in the round.


Howie Mandell is amazing. I mean seriously, that guy is good. I don't know how he does it. He's so good at just letting the contestants talk and just following their lead to reveal the results. He's really talented.
Yeah, he's really good at those cliff hangers.
Yeah, he's one of the biggest reasons why this show works. I mean, he just makes it look so effortless... it's a stroke of genius.


Oh, God... the Prize Fight is on. I hate this part... I get so nervous. What do you think they are going to do?
I don't know.
I think they will both Keep Mine.
Yeah maybe, although I could see the guy Taking It All maybe.

***Girl lies to guy and says she will give all of her money and prizes except her vacation to the guy's antibullying charity and then Takes It All while the guy Keeps Mine.***

I hate this show. What kind of a person does that... that was a really low blow! You can't just tell someone you're going to give their charity thousands of dollars and it all be a lie. What a B-Otch!
Seriously. That was bad.
Honestly, how do you live with yourself after doing that? I wouldn't be able to spend a dime of the money without thinking about that shameful moment. By the way, who named this the Prize Fight? They really couldn't have come up with a better name than the Prize Fight? What about the "I'm a lying bastard who will lie to your face, promise you the world and then rip your heart out of your chest and be happy about it" Fight. That would be more appropriate.

***1 hour later***

I can't believe she Took It All! She promised him she would donate everything to his charity. Wow, she sucks.

Of course, you can't watch this show and not think about what you would do in that situation. If you made it to the Prize Fight and you had say $400,000 worth of prizes on the line, what would you do? You're completely vulnerable with no way to protect what you've won up to this point and you have to trust a complete stranger to let you keep yours. Seriously, what would you do? The contestants get a minute to discuss and try to convince their opponent to Keep Mine before making their decision. This is what I would say.... right after the break... no just kidding.... here it is:

"Here's the deal. I'm going to choose Take It All. I want to split this evenly, but I can't trust you, because I don't know you. So I'm telling you up front that I will push Take It All, but I will split everything evenly with you if you. So you should push Keep Mine, because that's the only chance you have at getting anything. I'm not willing to give you the power, so your decision is either to screw us both over, or to let me Take It All in hopes that I will honor my word, which I will."

But then, I would secretly push the Keep Mine button. I honestly, just want to split everything. So if the person trusted me and pushed Keep Mine, then we would both be winners. But if they didn't trust me and they wanted to screw us both over so they pushed Take It All, then I just gave them thousands of dollars they will have to spend with a guilty conscience. Honestly, I'd rather someone get the money and maybe they'd give me some of the winnings for being so nice (yeah, right!).

At least that's what I say I would say. It's the total opposite of how I work and I take the more vulnerable angle way more often than I force myself into a position of power, but I just don't know what else would work better. No matter what you say, it all comes down to whether you and your partner trust each other and whether you each deserve that trust and will live up to it.

So, I'm curious to know... what you would do? Would you push Take It All or Keep Mine? What would you say to convince your opponent to push "Keep Mine"?  Would you be ok with Taking It All? Comments appreciated. :)

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