THE PYRAMID (GSN, premiered 9/3/2012)
The venerable game show series created by Bob Stewart, a franchise that has been around nearly as long as The New Price is Right, has finally returned to the air.
It's great to have it back.
This new run, the first since a syndicated run in 2002-03, returns closer to its roots with a present that keeps tradition alive and adds wrinkles that keep the show fresh. The format returned to naming 7 subjects in 30 seconds for each round. There are no returning champions or 7-11 and Mystery 7 bonus categories. So to compensate, players are awarded $500 and a Winner's Circle bank increase of $5,000 for each perfect round. This means the maximum payout for a contestant is $53,000; a tad unlikely to be won for now, but that will just make it more exciting if a player gets that opportunity.
Mike Richards, the much-maligned executive producer of The Price is Right, hosts a traditional game show after a stint on Beauty and the Geek in the mid-2000s. Despite being a bit wooden due to inexperience, he lets the game carry the load. Richards should easily make Pyramid his own.
The first two celebrities, Community stars Yvette Nicole Brown and Danny Puri, were the week's first guests. Yvette was the stronger player, with Danny having some very weak rounds. He did redeem himself with a Winner's Circle victory.
The set, a golden motif with white and red triangles for trim and white podiums which lit up with appropriate soft colors, was clearly inspired by the 1980s in terms of props. The pyramids for the categories and the Winner's Circle are both computer-generated displays, but simulate the trilons from the old Pyramids. This adds that element of comfortable familiarity that is needed for a game show such as this. The big Pyramid loses a small bit of its luster due to the lack of a crown design. However, that's a trifle, as the pyramid is large enough to be the appealing destination for the endgame.
The camera shots use the basic techniques that made Pyramid an appealing show to watch. I don't mind the near-constant zooming in to categories and/or Mike. It's a little jarring, but something anyone can get used to seeing. The category writing is fine as well. The writers can pick whatever subject they want to; as long as it's conveyed well by the players, any one of them can go 7-for-7, even movie-themed ones.
Perhaps most importantly, they kept the camera angles and setup of one of the most iconic bonus rounds in game show history. This is something Pyramid's last run strayed from and it cost them in terms of a legacy.
GSN has a winner on its hands. Here's to many more players trying to climb the Pyramid!
EDIT 1: Finished the last sentence of the third paragraph.