Host: Howie Mandel
Network: NBC
Original Telecast: December 10, 2012

The best game shows are ones where you’re rooting for the contestants to win, you’re learning something (sometimes) in the process and you can escape from the harsh realities of the world watching someone “succeed” in actually winning something cool and expensive (while dreaming it could be you too).

Unfortunately, TAKE IT ALL provides none of those things.

Howie Mandel is the host of this tacky (and mean-spirited) new series that brings back fuzzy memories of his stint on NBC’s DEAL OR NO DEAL, unfortunately none of the warmth or playfulness of that series is brought over here.

Instead, it’s a game about selfish people who want to “take, take, take” instead of give, give, give.

And in this six-night event, we get a taste of the show, with this premiere showing us what we should expect in the nights to come.

I won’t be coming back.

The premise is actually really complicated for a show with a simple conceit. You start off with five contestants. They pick from a prize board. If they like the prize, they keep it. If they don’t want to pick a prize off the prize board, they can steal another person’s prize, but the other person can freeze that prize, but only once during the entire game. The person with the prize worth the lowest prize amount is eliminated from that round.

This goes on for two more rounds, until you’re left with two people. When this happens, they each get to pick from a bunch of envelopes with money with it, but they don’t know how much money is in the envelopes.

Then it’s decision time. If both people click on a button that says “Keep Mine”, they each get to keep the money and the prizes. If one of them clicks on “take it all” and the other “keep mine,” then they steal all of the person’s prizes and get to keep theirs too. If both press “take it all” no one wins anything.

Got it? Is your head spinning yet? Are you confused (of course you are, admit it)?

Like many of these shows, the contestants are a pretty annoying lot. In This case, the two remaining contestants are Kim, a struggling mom and teacher and John, I believe a retired teacher and a yearly Santa Claus.

At the end, when both are pleading their cases to “Keep Mine,” it seemed like they wanted to right by each other, but Kim got greedy, and decided to take it all. She took home $400,000 plus in prizes when she could have been nice and taken home $300,000.

The show should be called greed, because it gets the better of you. Afterwards, you feel kind of icky. All Kim had to do was pick prizes from a board and that’s it. There’s really very little strategy, and instead just a luck of the draw. And at the end, after not needing to be very smart to play the game, you can screw the other person over for “more.”

Yes, sounds like a show was created by that dreaded 1%.

That said, Mandel, as always, is fantastic. He’s a great host, as his stint on DEAL OR NO DEAL proved and if the tone here was better, it would be much more tolerable. I can’t imagine anyone enjoying watching this again once it’s over. The earlier rounds are playful, even when someone can steal something, but the way it ends, especially this first episode it just feels wrong.

TAKE IT ALL might be able to survive past this one-week experiment if it finds a way to simplify the rules a bit,  but maybe people want mean and see the worst traits emerge from perfectly nice people.

Wil it have a lengthy DEAL OR NO DEAL run? I seriously doubt it, but there’s enough here to be a moderate hit if NBC’s week-long gamble pays off, but for me, I don’t want to take any of this, so those that like this kind of thing, can have it all.

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Article: TV Review: TAKE IT ALL – Season 1 premiere

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