It’s kind of amazing that Danger! still makes news. Maybe someone is in the middle of a 70-game winning streak, or is playing a robot, or is making a crazy amount on the show. Somehow you can still become a little celebrity Danger! On Danger! The greatest of all time, three participants compete in a seven-night glove. Three nights in, and it is now one of my favorite TV shows.
Danger! is fun to see because it is a game show that you feel you can play and win. And maybe you could! As a combination of trivia, gambling and reflexes, it is the perfect combination of things that nobody can really be the best at – simply the best in a particular room. It is also easy to overestimate your performance: always trivia feels easy because you know when you know an answer. This also makes it easy to overestimate your own performance.
A game of Danger! has 30 clues on a board, with two boards per game plus Final Jeopardy. The game goes fast and fits into all those trivia in twenty odd minutes. I imagine most people are like myself and think they are rocking to Danger! before doing maths and realizing that they should also clean up the architecture category as easily as the film, and commit to be a more modest fan. Or maybe you can do those things. Apply as a participant is fairly simple even if it is not in the show.
Danger!, at the most dramatic moments, contains people who behave just like anime characters – emphatically buzzing buzzers, exaggerating their most pensive facial expressions and generally doing everything they can to control their emotions, otherwise Alex Trebek notices how glad they are approval. It is the Olympic restraint that occasionally catches a glimpse of the personalities of the participants or the withering of Alex with unbelievably fun to watch.
This is also the reason why The greatest of all time is Danger! at best. It is not because of the high skill level at which the participants play, although that is certainly for those who appreciate it. It is because this is the rare circumstance in which the same three participants – each with their own long history in the show – keep coming back to compete against each other. There is a simple but great story in the game if you want one.
Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning series after his legendary 74-game run, is the easy favorite. He is a charming goofy man with a very old-fashioned Twitter account and a sweet attitude that makes him the platonic Danger! hero. Directly opposite him is James Holzhauer, a professional gambler whose aggressive style and the occasional harmless needling of his opponents makes him a beautiful low-stakes heel. And then there is the underdog, Brad Rutter, who has lost every game so far, despite the record for winning the most money in game show history on Danger! He comes closest to this tragic figure: the man with the longest history in this show comes back and falls short because he cannot land the Daily Doubles completely he must compete with gamblers such as Holzhauer.
The greatest of all time can be closed tonight. The first three games, which were broadcast last Tuesday through Thursday, ended with Holzhauer, who won one game and Jennings two. What happens next depends on tonight’s game: if Jennings wins, it’s over, but if Rutter or Holzhauer do that, the series continues until one participant has won three.
There is virtually no other context in which watching three millionaires competing for an additional prize of $ 1 million is so charming. Maybe this is because Danger! still feels so egalitarian, even though most celebrated players are mostly white and masculine. Either through completely normal and harmless delusions or true bona fide, it is easy to believe that you have a chance to do just as well. And more importantly, if you get the chance and you fail, it will cost you nothing but your time.
Danger! is one of the few long-running game shows that is not designed to make participants behave like rats in a greed-fed maze, where they are expected to scream behind a wheel or perform ridiculous stunts. It is the rare game show that is built so that you can maintain your dignity. Maybe that’s why we keep looking.