Tonight is the series premiere of NBC’s super-hyped new game show, Million Second Quiz. Host Ryan Seacrest has been on a media blitzkrieg to promote the show — but most of us are still in the dark about how it really works.
According to the official press release, The Million Second Quiz is “a state-of-the-art, electrifying new live competition where contestants test the limits of their knowledge, nerve and endurance as they battle each other in intense head-to-head bouts of trivia for 12 consecutive days and nights. When the million seconds draw to a close, the champions will compete in a grand finale and the ultimate winner will claim the largest prize in game show history.”
If you’re like me, that created more questions than it answered: What kinds of questions are these people answering? Do they get breaks? What’s the “largest prize in game show history?” Basically, how does The Million Second Quiz work?
Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, told Entertainment Weekly that the show is actually “mind-blowingly simple when you really lay it out.”
Telegdy explained the show is set in “the structure,” an human-sized hourglass that’s situated in the middle of New York City. Aspiring contestants line up outside of the building and are invited one-by-one into the game.
The actual competition starts off with one person in the “Money Chair” squaring off against other person. Both answer a quick-paced round of questioning and whoever answers the most correctly moves on. If that person was in the Money Chair, she is escorted to “Winners Row” where she then vies for immunity in “a slightly Clockwork Orange or Orwellian existence.” If the winner from the round of questioning was the non-Money Chair competitor, then he dethrones the person in the Money Chair and has to go against the next competitor.
That cycle is continuous for 12 days. Viewers can keep up with contestants’ progress online and during primetime programming each night.
Because the pace is so brisk, lots of competitors will move through the structure — and it’s not just New York City residents with a chance to participate. Producers will select participants from around the country, surprise them at their homes and fly them out to NYC.
“One of the things I loved about the show is the volume of people who can come through and play it,” Ryan Seacrest told Yahoo! TV. “I think that’s great – it opens up the door.”
Each competitors’ goal is to stay on Winners Row, which houses five people at a time. Similar to Big Brother there are cameras on the contestants at all times, including when they go to sleep in their little futuristic pods.
“Not only is this a giant quiz show live, but the social experience of having these people who have had to leave the kids at home, take days off work as they go after this endurance prize and hope that they’re the last people there when the million seconds are up,” executive producer David A. Hurwitz told Yahoo! TV.
Another interesting facet is that the show is live and contestants are expected to keep up with current events while on Winners Row. Anything is fair game in the Money Chair!
With all that pressure, there must be some serious rewards on the table. According to co-executive producer Stephen Lambert, someone has the potential to win $10 million if he stays in the Money Chair for the whole 12-day duration.
“But we think it’s unlikely that anybody will do that,” Lambert said.
Nonetheless, the ultimate winner will net a minimum $2 million.
“It’s definitely intense when you’re talking about this kind of money,” Seacrest said.
There are definitely a few questions remaining: How long does someone have to last in the Money Chair before getting to Winners Row? How are people from Winners Row are eliminated?
Fortunately, those questions should be answered before too long…
The Million Second Quiz premieres on NBC tonight at 9/8c.