Monday, August 25, 2008

My new favorite TV show: Cash Cab

Informed by a recent health fair at work that I could stand to lose a few extra pounds, I immediately ran to a local gym and signed up. Little did I know that this would lead to the discovery (pun intended) of a new favorite television program on (you guessed it) the Discovery Channel.

It just so happens that the treadmills at the athletic club are fitted with schnazzy tv monitors to which I can plug my MP3 player's headphones, and the programming during the wee hours of the morning before I must arrive at work are filled with new and exciting adventures such as the one I will describe for you.

That program is "Cash Cab," a television game show shot right inside a working N.Y. taxicab piloted by host Ben Bailey. Unsuspecting riders hail the cash cab and once seated are informed that they have wandered onto the mobile game show set by flashing lights and music. Those who agree to be contestants will have until the end of their cab ride to answer general knowlege questions at $25 apiece and increasing in difficulty and value up to $100 apiece, with the total amount of money to be won determined only by the random length of the cab ride they have requested, making this a unique game show format to say the least.

In "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" fashion, riders are allowed two lifelines, called "shout outs," one via mobile phone and one to selected passers by on the street, adding an interesting facet to the program. Three wrong answers amount to three strikes, where host Bailey kicks the contestants out of the cab, sometimes into the rain blocks from their destination.

Added to the mix are special bonus questions when the cab encounters red lights, and video bonus questions at the end which give contestants the opportunity to double their money. Most New Yorkers, I have noticed, choose to keep their winnings rather than gamble it all at the end. Also of note is the fact that most of the everyday schmoes who stumble into the Cash Cab possess a fairly good knowledge of trivia.

In terms of originality and enjoyment, this game show rates five hack licenses out of five from this reviewer. Cash Cab makes my torturous time on the treadmill each morning a little more tolerable.

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