Unlike most game shows, the prize was awarded as monthly payments over a length of time on a Time Ladder, ranging from 1 month to "Set for Life" (40 years). The highest amount seen in the show's brief run was $4,625/month and its subsequent top prize of $2,220,000.
The actual game involves pulling glowing rods (actually referred to as "sticks", but...) out of pedestals one at a time. There were 15 of them — 11 white, four red. The player had to draw as many white rods as possible, as each one moved the player up a level on their Time Ladder. This had to be done whilst trying to avoid the remaining red rods, since drawing all four red meant you're "dead" and win nothing.
You see, there was also the spouse or friend of the player ("Guardian Angel") seated in a Sound Proof Booth watching the game. Said chamber also contained a Big Red Button which caused the game to secretly stop after any turn. The mechanic was a double-edged sword as, while it saved a few players who had a bad game, it also ruined good games by halting things prematurely.
It's as tedious as it sounds, and it ran just seven episodes in America.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Mystery Sticks: Oh, and did we mention they glow?
- Who Wants to Be Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: High stakes, round set, Time Ladder, etc. To be fair, it seemed more like it was trying to cash in on the popularity of sister show Deal or No Deal.
- Catch Phrase / Four Is Death: "Four reds and you're dead!"
- Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene: There was a round that determined just what the player was going for, which Kimmel stated involved twelve numbers and opening an envelope, but it never aired.
- The British version showed the round which determined the prize money: the couple chose a base amount from £100-£200, then played a variant of the stick-pulling game with 11 rods (eight white, three red); white rods increased the bank by the chosen amount, with reds decreasing it. Couples could stop anytime after the fourth white rod, but picking all three reds ended the game right there. This was then followed by the only part of the game America saw.
- According to this post, the American qualifying game was the same as the British one, just with higher values. The geniuses at Endemol thought viewers would prefer to see fake suspense and other crap.
- Luck-Based Mission: You may as well call it The $1,000,000 Straw Draw, and that's not counting the whole Guardian Angel mechanic.
- Power Glows: The glowing-stick technology manages to look more high-tech than DOND.
- Trans Atlantic Equivalent: The original British version was For The Rest Of Your Life