'Money Drop' could use a few tweaks
December 21st, 2010
10:15 AM ET

'Money Drop' could use a few tweaks

I was really hoping for the best when I tuned in to Monday's premiere of Fox's latest venture into the big-money quiz show genre, "Million Dollar Money Drop."  What I got was a game that shows promise, but crumbles due to issues with question writing and presentation.

On the show, teams of two begin each game with $1 million in cash.  The teams then risk that money by placing the cash on trap doors that correspond to up to four possible answers for each question.  If they put any money on a wrong answer, the cash goes down a chute and is out of play.  Teams can put money on multiple answers, but one trap door must be left free of cash.

The questions featured on "Money Drop" range from straight trivia to queries based on surveys. The writing and fact-checking of these questions was not as rigid as I hoped, due in part to a question that cost the first couple featured on last night's show $800,000 of their $880,000 bank.

The question asked whether the Macintosh computer, Sony Walkman or Post-it Notes were sold in stores first.  The couple placed $800,000 on Post-its and $80,000 on the Walkman.  The show said that the Walkman was correct, as it debuted in 1979, while Post-its first appeared on store shelves in 1980 (the Macintosh debuted in 1984).

But wait one second.  This 1984 article from PEOPLE notes that Post-its were test-marketed in four cities in 1977 under the name "Press & Peel."   The official Facebook page for Post-its also notes the 1977 introduction, as did inventor Art Fry in a Financial Times interview.  At the very least, the question was poorly written - adding the word "nationally" would have solved some headaches.

Update, 12/22 5:16 p.m.: "Money Drop's" executive producer, Jeff Apploff, said in a statement that the show stands by the aforementioned questions:“The integrity of the questions and answers on our show are our No. 1 priority. In this case, our research team spoke directly with 3M, and they confirmed that although they had given out free samples in test markets in 1977 and 1978, it wasn’t until 1980 that Post-Its were sold in stores. 'Million Dollar Money Drop' stands behind the answer that was revealed on the show."

But aside from the question conundrum, the show also falls into the traps prevalent on several big-money game shows of the last 10 years: over-caffeinated contestants straight out of central casting, game-play that moves at a snail's pace, funky lighting and sound effects and awkward segues into commercials.  A decent game can be found on "Money Drop," but you have to be patient and tolerant to find it.

"Money Drop" should also take a page from its British counterpart and broadcast the show live, or at least employ same-day tape.  "Money Drop" executive producer Jeff Apploff said earlier this month that going live wasn't really an option, "given the numerous time zones."  To me, that's a poor excuse.  I don't hear viewers in California complaining that "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars" isn't live for them, and both shows are ratings winners.  The live element would make the show, flaws notwithstanding, worthy of water cooler conversation the next day, and a perfect example of expecting the unexpected.

On the positive side, Kevin Pollak held his own as host.  He understood that there are times to step away from the scene and let the contestants be the star, and he kept his comedic side to a minimum, which is appropriate given how tense the game can be.

Overall, "Million Dollar Money Drop" is, at the very least, DVR-worthy.  For the show to continue, it needs to get to work at fixing its most serious flaws.

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Filed under: television • TV recaps

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Don

    I would file a lawsuit. Fox owes them the money. This is typical of Fox, bad facts, no research and terrible staff. The staff members should be fired as being incompetent. Do not go back on that show, sue them, instead. Get your money. You won it fair and square. This show should be protected by everyone. Fox stole their money and lost even more credibility. Get a grip and get your money. If the question was not asked correctly, who's fault is that? No, you cannot spin this.

    December 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Oh - I see. They lost on the next question after the Post-It Notes one. So that means Fox doesn't owe them anything at all. The contestants should take the offer to go on the show again - it's a freeroll!

      December 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Doug

    I have found a money drop myself taking online surveys. If you want to make $1,000/month taking surveys please go to http://www.poyr.com.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. moneydropfactcheck

    Nothing wrong with the question.
    Lungs weigh less than Brain.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. jy

    RE: Body Parts Question, 12/23/10 showing.

    @SueBartholomew – That's what I thought too. The question was "lungS" not lung singular. Even the host pointed out that the possible answer of 'kidney' did not say 'kidneyS" in a congratulatory fashion. And each lung weighs on average 2.5lbs, combined that is 5lbs = far above the 3lbs an average brain weighs. However, in this case the couple, unlike the Post-It Note gaff, benefitted from the wrong answer. They choice the incorrect answer – brain – and moved on with more of the money. But clearly the production needs to better vett their questions/answers.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sam

    The game is rigged.The host uses psychology to get the winner to change thier minds and it usually works.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sue Bartholomew

    On the show tonight, December 23rd, I don't have the exact question, but it was something like, what is the weight of the average human organ?, lungs,heart ,kidneys or brain? The announcer stated that the answer is brain. I checked the internet on this subject and the average brain weighs from 2.7 to 3.8 pounds. The lungs weigh 8 pounds. Why are they not double-checking the answers? And, remember, the question was "average", not largest organ. They also said "lungs", not lung.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. THINK

    products are usuallly introduced around christmas. maybe that couple can check the library newspapers and see if there are advertisments for the product.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ken

    Once the viewers who bought themselves into this scam will wake up the next morning. The ratings will plummet 80%-90% of its audience and after several shows, Million Dollar Money Drop will be cancelled.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Suzy

    This show is lame..it moves along so slowly..hint to the producers, you aren't building drama by delaying the drops, you are boring people to death. ZZZZzzzzzz..I don't think this show will stay on long..At least i hope it won't.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Be Quiet

    The couple they had on last night that won the $80,000 were 2 of the most annoying people I have ever seen on television. I was hoping they would stand on the trap door instead of putting the money on it.

    December 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jezz724

    i can;t stand these games shows with these overacting people on it (deal or no deal, minute to win it, etc). its the reason i cannot watch any of them. i like watching price is right, family feud, wheel of fortune, where people are real and act normal.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. D.Bentley

    But wait one second. This 1984 article from PEOPLE notes that Post-its were test-marketed in four cities in 1977 under the name "Press & Peel."

    There was nothing wrong with the question, the question didn't ask when "Press & Peel" went on sale, it asked when Post-Its went on sale. Therefor the show was correct.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turnkey

      Per the inventor, AKA the person who KNOWS THE STORY BEST.

      "In 1977, we launched Post-it Notes in four cities. The results were disappointing and we realised we needed samples. -Art Fry" http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/f08e8a9a-fcd7-11df-ae2d-00144feab49a.html#axzz18ilK9aXA

      December 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |

      LINK, month of the article, issue number something please. Evidence please.


      December 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Common Sense in Iowa

    I just tuned in and the first question was: What is the most common number rolled in Craps... The couple was hysterical and thinking about it and said they thought it was 10. (Choices were 4, 7, 10 and 12). This show is what is crap. They must be hired actors to act this stupid. It took them 10 minutes to decide on 7. I switched the channel. This show won't last for long at all ...

    December 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RChou

    Weak! SOS – fake "DRAMA", couples debating – flat out boring and painful to watch. The host must need a check really bad.
    Over under – two more shows.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |

    OK, I watched it as my sister told me this was gonna be the next hot game show and to me it was total YAWN!!!! Yeah, the set is all glitz and shiny lights, but if ya ask me it is a total ripoff of the now defunct Deal or No Deal therefore not worth watching again. Guess Wheel and the Price Is Right have nothing to fear here!!!! I have watched the PIR since I was a little girl and Thank God they put ole Bob out to pasture and Drew brought a fresh new edge to the show and I really like him being the host, while they have the same tried and true games, I dig some of the new ones, they are a blast to watch people either win or lose!! So I don't expect this here show to last, hey, we might have seen the one and only episode last night, they canceled (THANK GOD) the Hoff's lame show after one night, I can't stand him so of course I did not tune in!!

    December 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  16. fycc

    Just checked your three sources, and none of them say Post-It Notes were sold in stores in 1977. What a shocker - CNN got its facts wrong.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Um, you need to reread those articles: "When the repurchase rate in Boise, Idaho in 1978 achieved a phenomenal 90 percent—50 percent is considered excellent—3M knew it had a hit." Notice the word purchase rate. Meaning they were bought. Nice try though.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turnkey

      I love how you some how claim to know more about the product than its own inventor! (Per his December 2010 Financial Times interview)

      December 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |

      How about you do some fact checking.


      December 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  17. batwork

    Question said "sold in stores." Post-It notes were given away for free in 1977, not sold in stores. They had a pretty big ad campaign about it http://www.post-it30years.com/main/default.aspx

    December 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jewel

      3M tried to sell them with little success in 1977 & 1978 – then the gave them away in Boise so people would know what they were. They were successfully sold in 1980, but the question was which was sold first & that was Post it Notes. It only took one sale to make them first & that occurred in 1977 & 1978 by someone willing to see what they were.

      December 22, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |

      This article is directly from the inventors mouth. The product was re-released after a failed attempt in 4 cities in 1977. The product did not do well so they started giving out samples. And the link you gave does not tell me anything. It is just the re-release date anniversary.


      December 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  18. LOL

    loved it!

    December 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  19. cheefsfury


    December 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  20. GeoB

    The show sucks!!! The same stupid hype-instructed idiots as Deal or No Deal. No couple acts like that unless instructed by the producers. Hope it's dropped immediately!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patch

      At least Money Drop requires some amount of knowledge. Babes and Briefcases is always a 1:25 chance of top earnings, no matter what bozo's playing.

      December 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I agree, frankly, the contestants did not look like they were losing the money...They were so animated and seemingly scripted as if they were plants for the show. I think the potential is there for the show...but not yet!


      December 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      The show is a farce and deceptive. First, the initial questions are very hard so as to immediately reduce your possible payoff inspite of the fact the show professes the opposite. Actually as you get to question 4 or 5 the questions are easier, because at that time you have very little left. Finally, some of the answers are flat out incorrect. The Yankees far exceed the Cowboys and teenagers spend much more time on the internet than watching tv. Perhaps some investigation here is required lest the scam continue.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |

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