There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.
I know, I don't usually check out game shows for Reality Bites, but ever since making a throwaway joke about The American Bible Challenge a few weeks ago, I've been kind of obsessed with the show. It debuted in August as GSN's (formerly Game Show Network) biggest show in its 17-year history, drawing 2.3 million viewers for the night. That included 1.7 million viewers for the premiere itself.
Clearly, this "Bible" is pretty popular.
Two things about the show were enough to set off the warning klaxons in my head from the get-go: the terrible theme song ("Everybody put your hands up! Come on now stand up!" all accompanied by what sounds like a Casio keyboard) and host Jeff Foxworthy. He was probably as surprised as anyone when his "you might be a redneck" train ran out of steam after a mere, oh, 30 years. Then again, who else could you possible get who'd be squeaky clean enough? Not Pat Sajak (too drunk, not Bob Barker (too randy), and not Alex Trebek (too Canadian).
The setup is fairly simple: three teams of three compete in five rounds of questions related to the Bible (the Christian one, not Anton LaVey's). The winning team earns $20,000 for the charity of their choice (the runner-up receives $5,000) and gets to advance in a season-long tournament that could get them a cool $100K for the charity.
Right away I feel bad. Not only am I pretty sure I'd be smoked in a Bible trivia contest, but I'd be disappointing thousands of cancer-stricken dogs, or whatever.
The three teams in my episodes were Team Joshua's Place, comprised of two sisters and their grandmother playing to get a physical building for their church, currently housed in a roller rink (big surprise, Foxworthy works this into a "you might be a redneck joke"). There's also "Team Judson's Legacy," husband and wife Cristina and Drake's and their "friend" Dean, playing for a charity for Krabbe Disease, which claimed the couple's firstborn son. Damn. Finally, a trio of brothers calling themselves The "Horns of Jericho" (their last name's 'Horn," hee ha ho). They're playing for the American Cancer Society.
The first round consists of guessing which Biblical character would have Tweeted things like, well I'll just show you:
For the record, this was the only question I got right the entire show.
Rick, the pastor of Joshua's Place is in attendance at the show. He was prompted to start his ministry after he fell out of a tree, landed on his head, and spent five days in a coma. Nothing I can add to that narrative could possibly enhance it.
Commercial breaks are played out by the show's choir, who are as blandly inoffensive as Foxworthy himself. This show is probably hugely popular among agoraphobes.
The next round removes each team's strongest member and has Foxworthy ask the remaining two members questions. This time around they're asked questions about a clip of an adorable three-year old recounting the horrifying tale of Moses ("And then the Pharaoh killed all da widdle boys"). Foxworthy and the judges are pretty forgiving of some vague answers, which is in keeping with the whole Biblical theme, I suppose.
GSN appears to have solved the dilemma of making Bible trivia relevant to today's hip, urbane youth by associated with things like Twitter and...C.S.I.:
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I know, right? Someone still watches that show?
The strongest members are then brought forward to compete and attempt to bring their teams into the "Final Revelation" round, which sounds a lot worse than it is. The two remaining teams are given ten minutes to bone up on the topic ("Animals of the Bible" for this one) before the last round, in which they answer as many questions as possible in a 60-second period. The winner gets $20,000 for their charity and moves on in the tournament, the runner-up gets $5,000. Still not too shabby.
When I was in middle school, I remember getting a Bible in class. I want to say they were handed out courtesy of a fellow student's parents, but does that really matter? The point is I, like dozens of my classmates, immediately turned to Revelations because that had the baddest ass stories. My teacher - my science teacher - commented on how young boys always liked to scare themselves with stories of the Dragon and the Beast.
At least these guys are doing it for charity.