Saturday, February 03, 2007

Deal Or No Deal Canada - Feb. 3, 2007

Sunday and Thursday; Global


Great expectations

There was a tidal wave of response from viewers for a Canadian version of Deal or No Deal. It just goes to show that, if you build it, they will come.

By Eric Kohanik

Howie Mandel loves to expect the unexpected.

“I’m very comfortable with discomfort,” the 51-year-old Canadian host of Deal or No Deal tells me as we sit down for an interview in his Toronto hotel suite. “I want the discomfort of not knowing what’s going to happen next. That’s exciting.”

Mandel certainly didn’t expect his show to become as popular as it has. And he certainly didn’t expect a Canadian version of it.

It was back during the first weekend of last May that The Watcher took a close look at the overwhelming success of Deal or No Deal. The premise, we noted then, was simple: 26 numbered briefcases containing cash prizes that range from one cent to a million bucks. Contestants pick one case and then, with the help of Mandel, they work through the rest, revealing the money they passed up. Tension builds. Luck – and only luck – ends up determining the outcome.

Although the American version of the show premiered in December 2005, the format actually originated in Britain almost five years ago and has since spread to more than 35 countries that have all come up with their own versions of the show.

We ended that column in May bemoaning the fact that Canada wasn’t in that crowd, thanks to the lazy tendency of our broadcasters to simply buy and air American versions of TV shows. “Maybe it’s too much or too silly to wish for,” the column sighed, “but maybe someone should gamble on a Canadian version of Deal or No Deal, too.”

We didn’t expect anyone to pay attention.

Actually, network executives claim their plan for Deal or No Deal Canada was already in the works before The Watcher came up with that suggestion. Sure. Whatever.

What’s important to note here is the wave of applications from would-be contestants that flooded Global from across Canada after it unveiled plans for the show. A similar reaction arose when the network announced a cross-country search for briefcase models.

It just goes to show that, if you build it, they will come. In droves.

They’ll probably come in droves for the telecasts, too. Global is wisely using Super Bowl Sunday as the launching pad for its run of Deal or No Deal Canada, airing the first of five planned episodes right after the National Football League championship wraps up. The four remaining instalments will air on subsequent Thursdays.

As for what you can expect, well, count on the unexpected. “That’s what’s exciting about our game,” Mandel says. “It can turn. It’s like a roller-coaster. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

What is sure to happen, though, is that Deal or No Deal Canada will be a hit. If it is, maybe someone will gamble on doing even more episodes of the show.

That’s the least we should expect.

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