The opening sequence for “Minute to Win It” sets the stage for a television epic. With a bright orchestral theme and a booming narration — “Some call them soccer moms, we call them warriors. Some call them dad, we call them the next generation of athletes” — it feels more like an Olympic event than a game show. Unfortunately, the inspiration of this opening theme of NBC’s latest game show doesn’t carry through to the rest of the show and is ultimately a setup for disappointment.

“Minute to Win It”

Sundays at 8 p.m.
NBC

The idea behind the show is just as awesome as its Olympian theme song. Contestants must complete 10 harder-than-they-appear tasks that make use of various household items. Dozens of challenges are posted online, people practice and perfect their execution, send in an audition tape and NBC flies them out to the show to perform them in front of a studio audience for the prize of $1 million. These challenges include emptying a Kleenex box with one hand, stacking five apples on top of each other, bouncing ping pong balls off three plates into a bowl and everything in between, each in only a minute’s time. So far, so good, right? But the sloppy execution of “Minute to Win It” dilutes everything great about it.

Its first real problem is that someone thought Guy Fieri would make a great host. This is the first time the Food Network star and self-proclaimed “kulinary gangsta” is tackling a show that doesn’t involve food (save for the occasional apple stacking). He’s pretty annoying on Food Network, but there he at least knows what he’s talking about. Witty banter with the contestants is a precious commodity and Fieri doesn’t yet have it. Maybe in time, he’ll grow into his own and become a Howie Mandel or Ben Bailey, but for now Fieri is just plain awkward.

This is probably magnified by the unfortunate realization that “Minute to Win It” is unnecessarily long. While the tasks only take one minute to complete and contestants will only complete ten tasks at most (and that’s highly unlikely), there are only ten minutes of actual action. The rest of the hour is filled with Fieri failing at engaging the competitors in casual conversation, resulting in little substance and lots of bore.

Luckily, the contestants themselves are hilarious and mostly make up for Fieri’s lack of spark. Big Steve and Rachy-poo (are cute nicknames a requirement for this show?) were reminiscent of “The Price is Right” contestants, but without T-shirts prominently featuring Bob Barker’s face. The show includes segments of their audition videos, so we’re treated to a gratifying glimpse of their intensive practice regimens consisting of them scooting around their backyards on a towel.

With “Deal or No Deal,” it almost seems like the contemporary primetime game show is back. And though “Minute to Win It” has its flaws, it wouldn’t take much for the show to rise up to that level of national acclaim and success. Cut it down to a half hour or get a new host, or both, and the show will live up to its title sequence. But unless that happens, “Minute to Win It” is going to have to earn an epic reputation before it boasts one.

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