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I love game shows, especially the classics. This genre was "reality" television before Jersey had a shore. Obviously, Jeopardy! is my favorite, but I also like Password, Match Game, and Family Feud with Richard Dawson not Ray Combs, Louis Anderson, Richard Karn, or Steve Harvey. (John O'Hurley is okay.) One show I cannot stand is Wheel of Fortune.

Wheel of Fortune comes on immediately before Jeopardy!. Since I don't care to watch Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, or TMZ because I have the un-American attitude that celebrities are people too, this means that I get my share of watching poor Pat Sajak being subjected to a series of idiotic stutterings from contestants who have already over-taxed their brains by thinking of an adjective to describe their family during the brief interview segment. Sajak is a Real American Hero considering the amount of stupidity he has to wade through.

True example of why Wheel sucks: For the first week of May, the show is "Going Green" by moving its production from Los Angeles to Portland. (How trucking tons of energy-sucking equipment hundreds of miles up the Pacific coast encourages environmental conservation is a thought-exercise left for the viewer, apparently.) The first show of the week features three contestants who are, respectively, a recreational fire-eater, a Bigfoot enthusiast, and a girl who enjoys inhaling nail-polish remover fumes every night. During an early puzzle, the Bigfoot enthusiast spun the wheel and landed on a trip, but lost the opportunity when the letter "D" she asked for was not on the board. The paint-thinner sniffer then spun the wheel and landed on the "Jackpot," but lost the opportunity when the letter she excitedly shouted wasn't on the board, either. That letter? "D". This is not what I call entertainment.

Both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune actively test potential contestants to see if they qualify for an appearance. I suspect that Wheel auditions only Jeopardy! losers. It seems that the ability to think is actively discouraged for Wheel contestants.

Wheel has a strictly "once-in-a-lifetime" appearance rule, preventing contestants who are actually good at the show from having a second chance at playing. On the surface, this is a good rule because, believe it or not, watching people spin a wheel once, ask for a "T", then shout a common phrase to win the puzzle is every bit as boring television as watching every contestant ask for the same letter. The side effect of this policy of eliminating the competent players is that you end up with a contestant pool filled with people whose hobbies include swallowing fire, chasing Bigfoot through the woods, and hufffing acetone; exactly the same cross-section of America that loves Wheel of Fortune.

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To be continued...


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