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Peacock’s ‘Frogger’ is No ‘Wipeout’

Our world is a difficult place to live in these days. That might explain the resurgence of TV game shows in recent years. If a network is lucky, they’ll have access to a long-forgotten but fondly-remembered franchise like To Tell the Truth or Name That Tune. If not, then they can try their luck with a whole new concept show like The Hustler or Hollywood Game Night, but creating a hit out of an unknown concept can be difficult and oftentimes, they fail. Then, sometimes a network will try to create a whole new show loosely based on a known property like CBS did with Candy Crush two years ago. The idea was to bring the popular computer causal game to life only to find itself lost forever after its’ initial short summer season was up.

This brings us to the new Frogger game show which premiered this week on the streaming service Peacock. Based on the classic arcade game of the ‘80s, this wacky game show that has a similar feel to that other wacky obstacle course show, Wipeout or maybe even Holey Moley, but this is no Wipeout.

If you are familiar with the classic Konami arcade game, you know that it begins with a frog trying to cross a busy road and then getting across a river jumping on logs and alligator to reach the other side. The “real life” version game show has those elements, but not in the same way, which was already disappointing. Instead, the huge set features rooms that are basically flooded with water and contestants need to jump from obstacle to obstacle to get from point A to point B. They have three “lives” to do so or they are out of the game. It is also a bit unclear when a player loses a life. If they fall into the water, that’s a life lost. However, it they are clinging on to one of the props and are able to pull themselves up on the prop, then apparently they are still in the game. It’s probably fun to do in person, but from home, it’s pretty boring.

(Photo by: Stuart Bryce/Peacock)

Creating crazy game shows that will actually capture an audience’s attention and succeed is very difficult to pull off. Let’s face it. These kinds of over-the-top shows are basically stupid. It takes some amazing chemistry between the gameplay, the visuals, the hosts and the contestants to make them work.

Now in its third season, Holey Moley is a huge hit largely because of its hosts and the impromptu comments that make throughout the broadcast. Joe Tessitore is a real-life sports commentator and Rob Riggle likes to pretend that he is as well. They are dressed with the old Wide World of Sports sport coats and they speak with authority as the show goes on. Riggle is constantly cracking Tessitore up presenting a fantastic chemistry for the show.

The old Wipeout series had a similar formula with John Anderson acting pretty much as the straight man and John Henson as the goofball. They also had Jill Wagner who interviewed all of the contestants and provided “on the scene” commentary. Both shows are just silly, but fun to watch because of the witty banter of the hosts.

Damon Wayans, Jr. and Kyle Brandt (Photo by: Stuart Bryce/Peacock)

Frogger’s hosts are Damon Wayans, Jr. and Kyle Brandt who seem capable enough, but they don’t speak with any authority at all, their commentary is flat and frankly, they aren’t funny. They appear as if they just stumbled onto the set and are pretending to commentate the proceedings instead of actually doing the job. The show also suffers from a lack of audience to cheer on the players.

Now for kids, Frogger is going to be huge. It’s silly, wacky and colorful. I’m not so sure that it is going to have the same appeal for their parents. As one of those former kids, I was intrigued with the concept, but was less than impressed with the final product and I’m not sure that it will appeal for other adults. I’m sure playing the game as a contestant is fun, but watching the contestants play is like watching someone else play a video game.

I suspect that NBCUniversal already knew that this wasn’t going to become a classic hit and decided to air it on the streaming service instead of one of their other networks. I think the solution for them would be to allow kids to compete on the show instead of adults and make it a children’s program, otherwise, it’s game over.

Main Image: Peacock

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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