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 "The game begins in 3 ... 2... 1 ..." [1]

In 1950, Goodson-Todman created Beat the Clock, a Game Show where the objective was for couples to perform bizarre stunts within a time limit (hence, beating the Clock) for cash and prizes. The show was at its prime from the 1950s through the mid-1970s, but like many classic games, it has since faded into history (and received a crappy, short-lived revival on PAX). Fast forward to early 2010, and a new show hit the airwaves to bring a revival to this concept, called Minute to Win It.

NBC primetime Game Show hosted by Food Network personality Guy Fieri, where a contestant (often a couple, or similar tag-team) tries to complete 10 tasks of increasing difficulty involving various household items. As the title of the show suggests, each task has a time limit of 60 seconds; either having to complete the task within that time, or performing a certain task for the complete period. If the task can't be completed (by running out of time/chances/whatever other oddball loss condition they can think of), the player loses one of their three lives, and losing all three ends the game and drops prize money down to the last safe point.

Minute To Win It was originally created since 2003 by Derek Banner and his production company BUMP Productions - Banner Universal Motion Pictures LLC, with the original title Minute Winner - You got one minute to win it. The original draft version of the game show was in November 2005 presented to the Swedish format company Friday TV, who further developed it in 2007 and licensed it to NBC in 2009.

That last point may seem a little familiar. And it was -- a little too much for some people's liking. That, combined with low viewership on its original Sunday night slot, led to the producers beginning to refine the show's style and try some new things (like a Celebrity Edition and a "Last Man Standing" format). When Minute returned for a series of episodes over the summer as a lead-in to America's Got Talent, it fared much better for NBC. Minute returned for a new season in December, beginning with a series of Christmas episodes, followed by more in the new year. And then people started complaining that Deal or No Deal rubbed off on it. Well, you can't please everyone!

As of May 2012, it's been finally canned. Some might be glad to see it gone.


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Space: The "Holiday Bonus" levels on the Christmas 2010 episodes, which awarded a prize upon completion. Said prize may either be merchandise or a Lifeline. After said episodes, they were re-dubbed the "Blueprint Bonus", and only give out lifelines. After inconsistent appearances throughout the Winter 2010-11 run, the Summer 2011 seems to have done away with them.
  • Bonus Round: While not labeled as such under normal circumstances (during Last Man Standing episodes, it is treated like one), the fact that there is now a safe point at Level 9 effectively turns Level 10 into one. Good luck!
  • Home Game / All There in the Manual: Played straight, as each challenge is designed to be played with supplies that can easily be acquired by potential contestants, and NBC put out extensive documentation on the games themselves to lure in potential contestants. The contestants do know what 10 games they'll be playing so they can practice, but not the order (this point's hidden in the credits, though several contestants have made reference to practicing games).
    • A more traditional home game was also planned — speculation over what it will consist of was rampant.
    • Toys based off some of the games were in a Wendy's kids meal promotion, too.
  • Lifelines: Sorta. You get 3 three lives to work with. However, lifelines of the stereotypical modern game show type started to show up in the Christmas 2010 episodes, 1-ups and 10-second bonuses (which either add 10 seconds, or remove 10 seconds for challenges that require maintaining a certain condition for the entire time) have been interspersed throughout the games. They appeared on and off during the rest of the Winter run as Blueprint Bonuses, but as of Summer 2011 they seem to be gone for good.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Whoever announces the intro, and the woman who provides the voiceovers on the blueprints.
    • Game Show Host: Guy Fieri.
    • Lovely Assistant: The "game agents", female assistants with an allegedly elaborate entrance sequence (complete with fog machines!). However, their appearances were trimmed down and eventually dropped entirely as a result of the style shift the show began to implement.
  • Who Wants to Be Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: Played straight with early episodes, which were tense, padded, had sob stories, a dark set, a complete theater-in-the-round audience, and had Lovely Assistants introduced with fog machines (apparently, according to a screener copy that the writer of Buzzerblog was given). Turns out the producers may have actually realized the errors in their ways. The game agents were all but demoted to the cutting room floor in post-production, and later in Season 1 the show began to feel a little more fast-paced, the set was modified to be brighter and have grandstand seating, and it just overall felt better.
    • But then, by season 2, it ended up feeling more like Deal or No Deal; a game show plagued by overdramatic contestants with overdramatic personal stories.
Tropes used in Minute to Win It include:
  • Adaptation Distillation: The US version spun off international adaptations in Australia and the Netherlands, which are basically the same show with much better pacing by removing most of the Padding, Filler, and cliche Commercial Break Cliffhangers, and by averting Viewers Are Goldfish.
    • The British version, Cadbury Spots vs. Stripes Minute to Win It, does away with quite a bit of the original format, which significantly averts being anywhere similar to Millionaire, or even the original for that matter. Two teams of 6 (with one celebrity captain each) play 6 games to score points. Each team member can only play once. Whichever team scores the most after 6 games wins, and gets to play a two-part Bonus Round; a game is played to determine the prize money (every point is worth £1,000, on top of a base £5,000), followed by one more game to claim the prize.
  • But Thou Must!: In team play, an individual player's limited to three consecutive attempts at solo games (including do-overs). After that, the other player has to play. And, no, an intervening team game doesn't reset the count.
  • Catch Phrase: Quite a few, ranging from how many different ways a Title Drop can be shoved into a statement, "Failure to complete this task in 60 seconds may result in elimination", and the countdown before a task.
    • "Did you see that?!"
  • Celebrity Edition: Nick Jonas was the first celebrity to step into the ring, and Season 2 brought several more celebrity editions; including NFL players and past Miss America contestants (as tie-ins for NFL Kickoff game and the Miss Universe pageant respectively...which both air on NBC).
  • Christmas Episodes: Yes, more than one. With a decorated set, bonus prizes, Christmas-themed reskins of existing games (and some new ones too), and two additional levels (playing on the Twelve Days of Christmas) with a possibility of winning up to $3,000,000! Only God knows what they had in store for Level 10+; would 10 still have been Supercoin, or would it be the True Final Boss at 12?
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: What were you expecting from an NBC reality and/or game show? The producers seem to have found over 100 different places to shove commercial breaks in on this show, with and without warning!
  • Difficulty Spike: Level 6 usually sees the first spike, then Level 8 may have another, and if you make it to Level 10 then Supercoin is nigh Unwinnable by Design.
  • Dueling Shows: Primarily with The Cube, a British-produced stunt-based game show which uses Camera Tricks and the added complexity of performing the tasks inside an enclosed space (i.e. the titular Cube, four meters in length on all sides) as its main gimmick. At the time, the show was being shopped around to FOX and CBS. It was even speculated by some that Minute was intended to be a frugal variant of The Cube in the first place, but started to evolve into something closer to Beat the Clock meets Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? later in development.
    • Ironically, ITV 2, a sister channel of the British channel which airs The Cube in the first place, actually ended up producing a British version of Minute. However, they did significant changes to the gameplay (which among other things, changed it to use a team format), so much so that some actually thought it was better than the original! (see Adaptation Distillation above)
  • Fan Service: Most female contestants have been young and beautiful, often with low-cut tops.
  • Filler / Padding: A game show with a minimum of 9-13 minutes of actual gameplay per episode and lots of added fluff to stretch it into an hour? Amazing! While some of the padding did get toned down by the mid-point of Season 1, it was cranked Up to Eleven in episodes which later followed.
    • The February 2, 2011 episode took this to extremes. It took two hours to get through one game with less than 13 minutes of actual gameplay. While it did have a suitably historic moment at the end (first team to get to the $1,000,000 level and elect to play on; they didn't win, but still got $500,000), it's mind-boggling that they managed to make a slow game even slower.
  • Hold the Line: Defying Gravity (keep three balloons up in the air), Keep it Up (keep two feathers in the air with breath), and Uphill Battle (keep three marbles on an inclined table hitting them with a spoon).
  • Hurricane of Puns: Almost every game has some sort of pun in its title. Special mention goes to the ones with racy names, like for instance, "Don't Blow The Joker"
  • Kick the Dog: One Christmas 2010 episode was particularly cruel to one unfortunate couple, sticking them with Extreme (Christmas) Nutstacker — a game previously played on Level 9 and barely passed — on Level 7.
  • Minigame Game: If anything could be called "Million-Dollar Mario Party", this would probably be it.
  • Musical Spoiler: Slow, boring music usually indicates the game will be lost, while beginning to climax means it'll be won.
  • Nintendo Hard: Arguably, the games past Level 6. The most notorious include Extreme Nutstacker, Double Trouble, Hang Nail, and Don't Blow The Joker. The last one is so infamously difficult, NBC actually has hints on how to beat it on the show's website.
  • Numerical Hard: The same game may be featured on different levels with the difficulty adjusted by changing the number of objects involved or the quota required to win.
  • Product Placement: Somewhat averted in comparison to other NBC shows, as Brand X products with the show's logo on them were often used for props in challenges...except in Breakfast Scramble (assemble a square-pieced puzzle made from a cereal box), which used an actual cereal box cover (no word on if this was just incidental or not), and of course the NFL Kickoff and Miss Universe cross-promotions mentioned earlier.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: One episode had a team of five kids playing. They bested the whole competition, losing only a single life (and then earning it back via a Blueprint Bonus, along with a 10 second bonus they kept till the very end). All that work, all that awesomeness, only to fall in the end to that damn Supercoin. Needless to say, this basically proves it's Unwinnable — if you're these kids and you can't beat it in 190 seconds, you're not beating it ever.
  • That Came Out Wrong: "These two just rocked the house with $125,000, and you know what? I just rocked the house with your mom!" Exactly how did nobody catch this?!
  • Theme Naming: The Christmas episodes featured festive versions of classic games, including "Jingle In The Trunk" (Junk In The Trunk, but with jingle bells), Face The Gingerbread Man, Extreme Christmas Nutstacker, Hung With Care (Hang Nail with mini candy canes), etc.
  • Timed Mission: As the title suggests, every game has a time limit of exactly 60 seconds.
  • Title Drop: "You've got a minute to win it!" and variations.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Supercoin takes this to the extreme. While it's possible to bounce a quarter off a table from the specified distance into a water jug in a controlled environment with a lot more time on your hands (this clip actually did get featured on the show), the odds of doing it on-stage in 60 seconds are...quite slim.
    • At the same time, it almost seems like the producers know Supercoin's utterly impossible. Free attempts at Supercoin were practically given out like candy during the later half of season 1 (Last Man Standing, audience games) with no risk to them, and one last safe point was added at $500,000 as further evidence the producers may be playing off Supercoin as a Bonus Boss rather than the final showdown it claims to be. Only two teams have ever made it past Level 9 — the first skipped out on the game, and the others (post-$500,000 checkpoint) went on and lost.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: In later episodes (especially those that put commercial break cliffhangers right as a game begins), Guy feels the need to re-explain the challenge as a secondary narrator, even right after the blueprint is shown! Just in case, they've also recently been listing out game materials on graphics before games begin too.
  • Wake Up Call Boss: The first few levels seem easy enough, but then you hit Level 6 and out of nowhere the game starts showing teeth.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Intense music with Ominous Latin Chanting...during a game that involves ping-pong balls, eggs, or spoons.
  • Working Title: The show was piloted as "Perfect 10". The original title of the draft version of the program created in 2003 by Derek Banner and BUMP Productions was "MINUTE WINNER - you got one minute to win it"

Notes

  1. (COMMERCIAL BREAK!)
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