Review: Beat the Geeks

Broadcast history: Comedy Central December 10, 2001 - 2003
Host: J. Keith Van Stratten, Blaine Capatch
Announcer: Tiffany Bolton

Three players compete. They compete against four geeks - people who have special knowledge of different aspects of pop culture. One is the movie geek, another music, a TV geek and a guest geek. In round one, four questions are asked worth five points in the areas of each geek's expertise (although not neccesarily one from each). First to buzz-in with the right answer gets the points. Then, four questions worth ten points are asked. The player with the lowest score is eliminated.

Then, the two players left challenge the geeks for their medals. The player in the lead picks a geek. They are asked an easy question. If they get it right, the geek must answer a harder "geek-level" question to retain their medal. If they get it wrong, their opponent can steal for 10. If the second player gets it wrong, the geek must be correct to stop the challenge. If the geek is wrong, the player gets another easy question. If the geek successfully defends, the player gets another question and the process repeats. If the geek is wrong, the player wins 20 points and their medal. If the guest geek was challenged succesfully, they get 10 bonus points.

If after two rounds of questions, both player and geek succeed in their questions, they go to a "15-Second Geek Off". The player is given a subject and must name items in the subject for fifteen seconds. The geek gets a harder, but related subject and must name more than the player to retain the medal. Less than the player, or a tie, means the player wins the medal and the points.

After two challenges, medals go up to 40 points in value. After two 40-point challenges, they play the "Geek-Qualizer". The trailing contestant plays first. They are given a word or phrase and must respond in 2 seconds whether it deals with Movies, Music, or TV. Each right answer is worth 10 points, and they can earn up to 150. A wrong answer ends the Geek-Qualizer. The player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, a numerical question is asked, and the player whose answer is closest without going over wins.

In the bonus round, the winner challenges one geek to a showdown. They are given a subject and take a 1, 2, or 3 point question. The higher the points, the harder the question. If they get it right, the geek cannot take a question worth less than the player's. They alternate until one reaches 7 points. If the contestant gets 7, they win a prize package worth over $5,000.

There were several changes in season two. The biggest change was in the first round. Four toss-up questions were asked for 10 points each. Following a right answer, the challenger faces the geek from where the question came (A TV question = facing the TV geek). If the contestant rings in first and is right, they get 10 more points. If the geek chimes in first and is right, he/she knocks the competitor back 5 points. After each geek has been faced, the toss-up round ends and still, the lowest scorer is eliminated. In the challenge portion, the bonus points for the guest geek went up to 20. The Geek-Qualizer now had 16 questions. Prizes could be tailored to each geek, such as a role in a slasher film for the movie geek, or a "Seinfeld" landmarks tour for beating the TV geek in the bonus.

Weeks before the show premiered, it aired in special time slots in "preview episodes."

As J. Keith can tell you, the geeks are monitored as to how much they actually know their subject. If they show any hint that they're not the geek they thought they were, they can be replaced. This was the case for the Music Geek, who was replaced halfway through the series.

Guest geeks include: "Star Trek" geek, "South Park" geek, comic book geek, hip hop geek and so on.

In season two, more staging was added around the set, some stylized "G" logos were sprinkled around, the geeks were given colored robes, the graphics were spiced up, and the contestant podii were made sleeker and no longer had extension cords protruding from them.

An enjoyable half hour. It's fun to play-along with, which is a factor in any good game show. Some have found it bothersome when the geeks prattle on during or after an answer, but I find some of the trivia interesting. And it fits the geek stereotype, so - why not include it?

Cast - 1.5
Game - 1.0
Bells and Whistles - 1.5
Prize - 1.0
Tilt - 2.0

[ 07.0 ]

It does have some flaws. If a player loses in the bonus, then the prize budget is absolute zero. There's no consolation money or announced prizes for those who lose. Set is nice, but some cheap parts take away from the cool factor.

Many nods to the changed first round. Blaine Capatch as host - okay. He ad libs a lot more than J. Keith, but seems to parody the plesantries of a game show at times. All the visuals were made much nicer, but there is a possible problem. The prize package is no longer referred to by cost. This could or could not mean the value of it has dropped below five - THOUSAND dollars.

Cast - 1.5
Game - 1.5
Bells and Whistles - 2.0
Prize - 1.0
Tilt - 2.0

[ 08.0 ]

One of the prizes offered was a trip, which is probably more desirable to some than the many, many electronics. And the fact that they tell the players up front where the trip is should they want to go for it is a plus.

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