#99: Shop Til You Drop:
Economy sized cheapening + JD Roberto = Fans yearning for Grandma Curmudgeon.
PAX (now Ion): (October 2003 - May 2005)
There's a saying in game shows that all producers should know: "Change for the sake of change never works." So when PAX decided to order new episodes of Shop 'til you Drop after 2 years, Stone-Stanley Productions decided that it was time for a show to get a gigantic revamp. Everything that fans knew about the old Shop Til you Drop was gone. Gone was the big mall set, which was a great looking set and served a purpose to give the show atmosphere. Gone was the stunts that contestants performed to earn points and a prize from the mall. Gone was all the characters that Dee Bradley Baker used to add some humor to the show and gone was the truly capable and good hosting from veteran host Pat Finn. So what they decided to do was give the show a timely update. Unfortunately, it proved to fans and viewers alike as to why Stone-Stanley is often a whipping boy for the fandom, when it comes to bad shows.
With Pat Finn gone, we're treated to the presence of JD Roberto. Before this show, he was the host of Flamingo Fortune, You Lie Like A Dog and one of the lamest shows in dating show history, Outback Jack. Recently, you know him as one of the lamest announcers in Price Is Right history. Needless to say, his hosting is like his announcing. It borders on the bad to the downright terrible. He reminds me of a Mr. Game Show if its voice was more nasally and whiny than the original. Now that's not to say that he doesn't know what he's doing, he actually has all the basics down to be a good host, it's just that some of his mannerisms and other things that he does that makes his hosting lame.
With the mall gone, we're treated to the new millennium's version of a mall: The Megastore. The mall looked great, whereas this looks lifeless, soulless and just a mess. And to make it even more soulless, it was littered to the brim with thousands and thousands of cheap plugs. In the first 3 minutes, you got more cheap plugs than you would see in a D-Generation X promo. You had plugs on the podium, the shelves, the aisle containers.....
Oh yeah, even out of JD's podium. My goodness. I feel like we've traveled back in time and we're watching The Home Shopping Game or Bargain Hunters and we're watching all these plugs for cheap crap for you to buy at home. While that was horrendous, this is worse. At least they were there for 30 or so seconds and we're gone, these are just in your face for the entire program. It makes me yearn for the days of the mall were the only thing that was plugged was the prizes and promotional consideration stuff.
I guess after railing on all the cheap plugs, I should actually talk about the gameplay. Instead of having stunts, it's all a bunch of questions, led off with two "punny" categories. I'll be perfectly honest. I like those types on Jeopardy and on The $10/20/25/50/100k Pyramid, but I hated them on Match Game 1998 and I hated them even more here.
Then after the category was picked, they were asked a bunch of either/or, higher/lower, true/false questions and had to get X right in one minute. It just made the show less and less exciting. When you had the stunt format, you had tons of variety in what you could do in order to get the crowd excited and it was also entertaining to see contestants punch Dee in the stomach, and really who doesn't? This format, on the other hand, has zero excitement and the only variety is in the material used. Another major downgrade from the prior format.
Another lame thing was that after a team won the stunt, they had to run through the megastore and pick a box out of the departments that had the blue lights on it. Gee, they're not ripping off K-Mart or a good diner or anything like that.
After that JD gets his hands on the prize and usually makes some cheesy line about it. I don't know who's idea it was for JD to deliver those lines. Was it him or Stone-Stanley or someone else? Either way they're not only cheesy, but they're extremely terrible. They're so bad that not even Fozzie Bear would say those lines.
Anyways, Shoppers Challenge round is the same, so not much needs to be said there. God I hate those cheap ads. It would have just been much easier to have the logo of the show there. I mean, it would have been more pleasing and it's not beating you over the head with a hammer with crap for you to buy.
Then we get to the bonus round. Now instead of just having one set buyer and exchanger, both players take turns running through the megastore exchanging their boxes or keeping them. Now that the megastore is all on one floor, the producers had to make the exchanging harder, so they had to hide some of the boxes in the departments. You would have 12 or so departments displayed and in the nooks and crannies of the store are the others like Big Savings, Pricebusters, sporting goods among others. It made the bonus round way harder than it should. More often than not, they would only get 5 boxes instead of all 6 traded. My theory is that the megastore was deeper than the mall was long and high.
The end is still the same, just hope that you got $2.500 worth of prizes then you win the vacation. This part gets tedious because JD makes his cheesy lines, and he at least waits 4-6 seconds to reveal the amount of the prize and it gets even more unbearable when it's the last one, and it's 7-10 seconds before he reveals it. I know it was fashionable to do it at the time, but that was for Millionaire, Greed, and shows that had 40X the prize budget that Shop Til You Drop had. At least Pat Finn was close to it, or at the very least said something while he was revealing the value.
If that wasn't bad enough, during the second season of this incarnation of Shop Til You Drop, they threw in more plugs, namely giving plugs for the clocks and in other parts of the megastore. It's like killing a fly with an atomic bomb in the terms of blatant advertising.
Probably the worst thing about this show is the theme song at the end. The music itself is better than the disco-fied theme used during the last season with the mall. But what absolutely kills it is the auto-tuned lyrics. It turned a good theme into an unlistenable mess not heard since The Better Sex. Here are the lyrics.
"Shop Til you Drop. It's a game full of prizes and a few surprises.
So if you love to shop, come on and play Shop Til You Drop.
Shop Til you Drop. You can win a great vacation, have a celebration
So if you love to shop, come on and play, Shop Til You Drop."
Wow, and I thought most singers nowadays didn't know how to make lyrics that sounded good. This takes the cake for craptacular lyrics. Thankfully it's only heard during the end, where you reminisce about how lame the show was.
And that's Shop til You Drop. No matter how lame Jason was or how annoying Dee's characters got sometimes or how silly the stunts were, I would rather have that 100 times over than this version. The set was lamer, the host was worse, the games were lousy, and the plugging of the plugging of the plugs were downright pathetic. The show lasted two seasons before the megastore foreclosed and later on, Stone-Stanley broke up. I honestly feel that this was just a way for PAX to make a show with minimal money and forcing Stone-Stanley to bombard everyone with advertising, so this disaster has blame all around to share. Part on PAX, part on Stone-Stanley, Part on JD Roberto, part on me for not inducting this sooner.
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