With all the other networks shoving reality programming down the American public”s throats faster than they can say “Temptation Island,” it comes as no surprise that NBC is jumping on the bandwagon. In an attempt to strengthen its Monday night lineup, the Peacock is debuting its new game show, “Weakest Link” as a midseason replacement which, depending on its success, will continue on into the summer.

Paul Wong
Beware of the witch of the “Weakest Link,” Anne Robinson.<br><br>Courtesy of NBC

NBC has so much faith in the show that it”s preempting programming on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to give the show two additional runs.

“Weakest Link” features eight contestants standing around in a circle battling each other, the clock and the host, in a trivia contest in an effort to win the jackpot. Through the first seven rounds, the contestants play together as a team answering rapid-fire questions. Every time a question is answered correctly, more money is added to the pot. For every wrong answer, the pot goes down to zero.

At the end of each of the first six rounds, each contestant votes to eliminate the fellow contestant they consider to be the weakest link in the chain. In the seventh round, the remaining contestants have a chance to double the bank. Each player who is voted out leaves with nothing only one contestant will walk away with the prize money.

While the slogan, “You have never seen anything like this on American television,” may be true, it doesn”t necessarily mean that “Weakest Link” is anything new or original.

Like ABC”s monster smash “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” the show is based on the highly successful British game show of the same name. “Millionaire” host Regis Philbin even called the new game show a “copycat.” To avoid being labeled as a desperate and humiliating blend (read: rip-off) of “Millionaire” and CBS mega-hit “Survivor,” the show is being touted as a game show that combines the best of “Survivor” and “Millionaire.” Interesting approach.

NBC initially viewed two pilots of the show, one hosted by “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch and another by Anne Robinson, who also hosted the original BBC version. NBC”s syndication division is still considering launching a separate version of the series, to be hosted by Hatch.

Robinson, who may or may not be speaking in a fake British accent, was chosen as the “inquisitor” because of her evil persona. She is being promoted in NBC”s aggressive promotional campaign as “TV”s rudest woman” a hard-nosed ultra-bitch of a host that gives fans nightmares.

Whereas “Millionaire”s” Regis admittedly wants his players to win, Robinson is found spouting such brutal lines as “You should request a refund from your university” and “You”re quite honestly the most stupid person I have ever met. Are you intelligent enough to be on the show?”

But she does deliver the show”s smarmy sendoff catchphrase, “You are the weakest link. Goodbye,” with uncanny blunt effectiveness.

While “Weakest Link” may be interesting to watch for a while to see if any of the contestants actually smack Robinson, the recent failure of similar quiz-show fare like “Greed” and “Twenty One” could spell trouble.

One wonders how much of this the viewing public can take before UPN comes out with “Strip Naked Survivor Game Show.” Oh wait, would you look at that “Chains of Love” premieres tomorrow.

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