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Series / Minute to Win It

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"The game begins in 3... 2... 1..." note 

In 1950, Goodson-Todman created Beat the Clock, a Game Show where the objective was for couples to perform bizarre stunts within a time limit (hence, beating the Clock) for cash and prizes. The show was at its prime from the 1950s through the mid-1970s, but like many classic games, it has since faded into history (and received a crappy, short-lived revival on PAX). Fast forward to early 2010, and a new show hit the airwaves to bring a revival to this concept, called Minute to Win It.

Originally aired by NBC and hosted by Food Network personality Guy Fieri, a contestant (often a couple or similar tag-team in later episodes, but originally a solo player) tries to complete 10 tasks of increasing difficulty involving various household items. As the title of the show suggests, each task has a time limit of 60 seconds; either having to complete the task within that time, or performing a certain task for the complete period. If the task can't be completed (by running out of time/chances/whatever other oddball loss condition they can think of), the player loses one of their three lives, and losing all three ends the game and drops prize money down to the last safe point.

That last point may seem a little familiar. And it was — a little too much for some people's liking. That, combined with low viewership on its original Sunday night slot, led to its producers making changes and experimenting with new ideas (such as a Celebrity Edition and a "Last Man Standing" format). When a re-tooled Minute returned for a series of episodes over the summer as a lead-in to the popular America's Got Talent, it fared much better for NBC. Minute returned for a new season in December, beginning with a series of Christmas episodes, followed by more in the new year. And then people started complaining that Deal or No Deal rubbed off on it. Well, you can't please everyone.

After a hiatus (which also saw Minute's producers handling NBC's newest import, Who's Still Standing?, and seeing it promptly blow up in their face), the NBC version was officially axed in May 2012. Shortly after its cancellation, GSN picked up reruns of Minute, and then Un-Cancelled it in June 2013 with speed skater/Dancing with the Stars winner Apolo Ohno taking the helm, and a top prize of $250,000.

This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The US version spun off international adaptations in Australia and the Netherlands, which are basically the same show with much better pacing by removing most of the padding, filler, and cliche Commercial Break Cliffhangers, and by averting Viewers Are Goldfish.
    • The British version, Cadbury Spots vs. Stripes Minute to Win It, does away with quite a bit of the original format, which significantly averts being anywhere similar to Millionaire, or even the original for that matter. Two teams of 6 (with one celebrity captain each) play 6 games to score points. Each team member can only play once. Whichever team scores the most after 6 games wins, and gets to play a two-part Bonus Round; a game is played to determine the prize money (every point is worth £1,000, on top of a base £5,000), followed by one more game to claim the prize.
  • The Announcer: Whoever announces the intro, and the woman who provides the voiceovers on the blueprints (also sub hosts on some occasions).
  • Always Close: Many times. Supercoin takes this to the extreme, with them being close a lot of the time.
  • Bonus Space: The "Holiday Bonus" levels on the Christmas 2010 episodes, which awarded Lifelines or bonus prizes upon their completion. After the Christmas episodes, they became the "Blueprint Bonus" and only gave out lifelines. After inconsistent appearances throughout the Winter 2010-11 run, the Summer 2011 episodes seemed to have done away with them.
  • Brutal Bonus Level:
    • While not labeled as such under normal circumstances, the fact that they even added a safe point at Level 9 effectively turns Level 10 into one. Good luck. And who knows what level 11 and 12 at Christmas had in store.
    • Episodes using the "Last Man Standing" format used a single attempt at Supercoin as the bonus round for the winner.
  • But Thou Must!: In team play, an individual player's limited to three consecutive attempts at solo games (including do-overs). After that, the other player has to play. And, no, an intervening team game doesn't reset the count. This can lead to situations where having less lives is ultimately better in the long run for the grand prize since somebody could be forced to go if you re-attempt failed games due to one player being better at higher-level games than the other. Someone could even be forced to play on the last life. You could theoretically avoid a three-count by having the forced player reset the count by playing after the other player played twice, but either-way you're wasting a life if one team member is bad at a chosen game and are forced to go or there to reset the count, which would waste a life if they don't complete the challenge.
  • Catchphrase: Besides the many ways a Title Drop can be shoved into a statement, there's also:
    • "Failure to complete this task in 60 seconds may/will result in elimination."
    • "The game begins in 3...2...1..."
    • "Did you see that?!"
  • Celebrity Edition: Kevin Jonas was the first celebrity to step into the ring, and Season 2 brought several more celebrity editions; including NFL players and past Miss America contestants, as tie-ins for NFL Kickoff game and the Miss Universe pageant respectively (Just guess which network both of these events aired on at the time).
  • Christmas Episodes: Yes, more than one. With a decorated set, bonus prizes, Christmas-themed reskins of existing games (and some new ones too), and the money ladder being extended to twelve levels (playing on the 12 Days of Christmas) with a new top prize of $3,000,000 (although no one got far enough to reveal what this would have entailed).
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: As usual for an NBC reality and/or game show, the producers managed to find over 100 different places to splice in commercial breaks, with and without warning, even in the middle of a challenge.
  • Fanservice: Most female contestants have been young and beautiful, often with low-cut tops, proving Minute To Win It seems to want to become a sport or athletic activity.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Being a family of 5 or 6 will get you pretty far in the game, even cutting down on how much the 3-play in a row rule will cost you.
  • Filler:
    • A typical episode had 9-13 minutes of gameplay and lots of added fluff to stretch it into an hour. While some of the padding did get toned down by the mid-point of Season 1 (and games did straddle between episodes), it was cranked up to eleven in episodes which later followed.
    • The February 2, 2011 episode took this to extremes. It took two hours to get through one game with less than 13 minutes of actual gameplay. While it did have a suitably historic moment at the end (first team to get to the $1,000,000 level and elect to play on; they didn't win, but still got $500,000), it's mind-boggling that they managed to make a slow game even slower.
    • The Celebrity Edition episodes featured contestants with well-known inspirational stories to draw from, such as Aron Ralston's mountain climbing accident, resulting in frequent breaks from the game.
  • Game Show Host: Guy Fieri on the NBC version, Apolo Anton Ohno on the GSN version, Darren McMullen on the British and Australian versions.
  • Harder Than Hard: Most contestants find Level 7 challenges to be hard. Levels 8,9, and 10 make Level 7 look like a joke.
  • Hold the Line: Defying Gravity (keep three balloons up in the air), Keep it Up (keep two feathers in the air using your breath), High as A Kite (keep a kite up in the air running) and Uphill Battle (keep three marbles on an inclined table hitting them with a spoon).
  • Home Game: Each challenge is designed to be played with supplies that can easily be acquired by potential contestants, and NBC put out extensive documentation on the games themselves to lure in potential contestants (or so you could roll your own home version. Even though the show has long been cancelled, this has kept the spirit of the show alive among many a social event). The contestants do know what 10 games they'll be playing so they can practice, but not the order (this point is hidden in the credits, although some contestants did bring up their need to practice certain games, while the GSN version added Confession Cam segments from an area dubbed the "Minute to Win It Boot Camp")
    • A more traditional home game was also planned speculation over what it would consist of was rampant.
    • Toys based off some of the games were in a Wendy's kids meal promotion.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Almost every game has some sort of pun in its title. Special mention goes to the ones with racy names, like for instance, "Don't Blow The Joker".
  • Kick the Dog: One Christmas 2010 episode was particularly cruel to one unfortunate couple, sticking them with Extreme (Christmas) Nutstacker a game previously played on Level 9 and barely passed on Level 7 despite the number of nuts being 8 instead of 10. Other examples include whenever a team gets stuck with Ker Plink Or Plunk, CD Dominoes, Oh Nuts!, or Uphill Battle. One couple got an extremely unlucky level 1 game, "Spare Me" with 12 markers, which they lost all 3 lives on.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Averted, since unlike other game shows where the contestant may have no control over what happens and the result may be up to chance or based on what trivia question you get, In a game show like Minute to Win It, where the contestant does have control over the final outcome and barely any luck is involved, It's only fair that seeing what would've happened would've been subjective based on the stunt given and the pressure of completing it. With the pressure gone, it wouldn't make sense to see what would've happened. If only the game was shown, it would leave the audience wondering forever what the stunt was (If it was a newly added one) or be left with disappointment cause they wanted to see that stunt. Obviously, which stunt the contestant(s) get(s) would be crucial to their perception of it. Contestants also have to leave before seeing the stunt, so since they didn't see it, it's not wrong to assume why they walked away before seeing the stunt if they thought the previous stunt was hard. If the contestants don't walk away, they commit to whatever stunt is chosen, this fear can also instill a pressure to walk away and seeing would've eliminated the pressure of having to commit. Moreover, the atmosphere plays a big role.
  • Lifelines: Introduced in the December 2010 episodes for reaching certain levels, these included extra lives and 10-second bonuses for beating a game and then using this bonus on another game (Either adding 10 seconds, or removing 10 seconds on Hold the Line challenges). They seemed to have been used less later on, and only in the New Darkened Set used for the two-hour episodes and specials.
  • Lovely Assistant: The "game agents"note , female assistants with an allegedly elaborate entrance sequence (complete with fog machines!). However, their appearances were trimmed down and eventually dropped entirely as a result of the style shift the show began to implement. They were usually only seen in challenges such as "Blind Ball" which required the contestants to be spun around and blindfolded.
    • Some specials, namely NFL and Christmas, star a team of cheerleaders.
  • Minigame Game: If anything could be called Million Dollar Mario Party, this would probably be it.
  • Minigame Zone: The 60-second circle.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Intense music with Ominous Latin Chanting...during a game that involves ping-pong balls, eggs, or spoons, or throwing an object.
  • Musical Spoiler: Slow, boring or tense music usually indicates the game will be lost, while beginning to climax means it'll be won. A common fail theme is the string loop theme which plays, trying to make contestants lose balance and steady hands since most challenges require this or any type of quiet music which doesn't fit with the challenge (i.e. throwing ping pong balls with quiet music)
  • Nintendo Hard: Arguably, the games past Level 6. The most notorious include Extreme Nutstacker, Double Trouble, Ping Tac Toe, and Don't Blow The Joker. The last one is so infamously difficult, NBC actually has hints on how to beat it on the show's website. All topped by the notorious Supercoin.
    • To put it simply: No one has ever won the game, at least formally. Some International versions have had winners, except their challenges were always different from the US. However, Supercoin was beaten by a man in Venezuela, allegedly without a table.
  • Numerical Hard: The same game may be featured on different levels with the difficulty adjusted by changing the number of objects involved or the quota required to win.
  • Obstsacle Exposition: Done in the blueprints by the announcer, she lays it all out for the viewers at home, even though you could've just gone to the website.
  • Product Placement: Somewhat averted in comparison to other NBC shows, as Brand X products with the show's logo on them were often used for props in challenges...except in Breakfast Scramble (assemble a square-pieced puzzle made from a cereal box), which used an actual Frosted Flakes cover (no word on if this was just incidental or not), and of course the NFL Kickoff and Miss Universe cross-promotions mentioned earlier.
  • Rules Spiel: Mostly averted by Guy Fieri ever since the show became a hit. He would still say the entire "as the money goes up, the challenges become more difficult" spiel at the beginning, or middle of a show, but this died down quite a bit in the second season.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: When you get a hard Level 1 challenge like Floatacious but then get an easy Level 2 challenge like Face The Cookie.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: One episode had a team of five kids playing. They bested the whole competition, losing only a single life (and then earning it back via a Blueprint Bonus, along with a 10 second bonus they kept till the very end). All that work, all that awesomeness, only to fall in the end to that damn Supercoin. Needless to say, this basically proves it's Unwinnable if you're these kids and you can't beat it in 190 seconds, you're not beating it ever.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: Normally, the Blueprint Narrator concludes each blueprint with "Failure to complete this task in 60 seconds may result in elimination." For Supercoin's blueprint however, she instead concludes it with "Completing this task in 60 seconds will win you one million dollars."
  • Take Your Time: Inverted, but often justified.
  • That Came Out Wrong: "These two just rocked the house with $125,000, and you know what? I just rocked the house with your mom!" Exactly how did nobody catch this?!
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The challenge you get is random and when contestants "hope" they don't get certain games, they usually get those, which are the ones they are not good at. Also, while the contestants are pitted against the "challenges", they are more so pitted against the female announcer because she is the one giving the challenges...
  • Theme Naming: The Christmas episodes featured festive versions of classic games, including "Jingle In The Trunk" (Junk In The Trunk, but with jingle bells), Face The Gingerbread Man, Extreme Christmas Nutstacker, Hung With Care (Just Hang On with mini candy canes), etc.
  • Timed Mission: As the title suggests, every game has a time limit of exactly 60 seconds.
  • Time Title: A contestant tries to complete 10 tasks of increasing difficulty involving various household items. Each task has a time limit of 60 seconds. Complete all 10, win One. Million. Dollars.
  • Title Drop: "You've got a minute to win it!" and variations.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Supercoin takes this to the extreme. While it's possible to bounce a quarter off a table from the specified distance into a water jug in a controlled environment with a lot more time on your hands (this clip actually did get featured on the show), the odds of doing it on-stage in 60 seconds are... quite slim without a LOT of practice and some luck.
    • At the same time, it almost seems like the producers knew that Supercoin was utterly impossible. Free attempts at Supercoin were practically given out like candy during the later half of season 1 (as a Bonus Round for Last Man Standing, audience games) with no risk to them, and that one last safe point was added at $500,000 downright proved that Supercoin was now just a Bonus Boss rather than the final showdown it claims to be. Level 9 was the real deal. Only two teams have ever made it past Level 9 the first skipped out on the game as a result of their tough Level 9 game with 1 life left, and the others (post-$500,000 checkpoint) went on and lost after completely crushing Level 9 (Uphill Battle).
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: In later episodes (especially those that put commercial break cliffhangers right as a game begins), Guy feels the need to re-explain the challenge as a secondary narrator, even right after the blueprint is shown! Just in case, they've also recently been listing out game materials on graphics before games begin too.
  • Un-Cancelled: By GSN in 2013.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first few levels seem easy enough, but then you hit Level 7 and out of nowhere the game starts showing teeth.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": Played straight with early episodes, which were tense, padded, had mild sob stories, a dark set, a complete theater-in-the-round audience, and had Lovely Assistants introduced with fog machines (apparently, according to a screener copy that the writer of Buzzerblog was given). It turns out the producers may have actually realized the errors in their ways; the game agents were all but demoted to the cutting room floor in post-production, and further improvements (including a tweaked set, faster format, etc.) were made throughout the season (these changes were most apparent by the summer run of the season)
    • By Season 2, Deal or No Deal began rubbing off on Minute too; most episodes were heavily padded by overdramatic contestants and storylines.

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