The Weakest Link (US)

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NBC (ended 2002)

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The Weakest Link (US)

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This British import, along with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, helped kick off a brief game show craze. The host, Anne Robinson, the same as the British version, was frighteningly rude to the players, insulting their lack of knowledge with some acidic remarks and glaring looks. While the clock ticked down from two minutes, (ten seconds less each subsequent round), questions were tossed to each player. A correct response raised the bank, and each player could call out "Bank" before their question, to shift the winnings into the kitty. Any wrong answer, and the bank would revert to the first stage. A string of eight correct answers could give the team $125,000 per round. At the end of each round, the players voted someone off. That person had to suffer walking in disgrace across the stage, then giving a short opinion about losing. The last two played a final round, in which the bank was doubled, then faced each other in a best of five question showdown. Only one took home the money. The catch phrase, "You are the weakest link. Good-bye.", caught on with viewers. At one point in the summer of 2001, eight of the top 25 U.S. prime time shows were contests. 'Link's initial ratings were a big boost to NBC, which quickly added a second weekly time slot, and ordered a second season of episodes. However, during the aftermath of 9/11, and the Afghan war, TV schedules were disrupted, many shows were pre-empted, and the momentum slowed. In that winter, NBC cut the broadcast to once a week, on Sunday night, but then the NBA games often cut off the beginning of the show, and during the playoffs, shows were rescheduled for future dates. More and more special celebrity episodes were aired. Interest was falling, ratings dropped, and on May 16, 2002, Jeff Zucker, entertainment president, announced the cancellation. On July 14, NBC aired it's last new episode. Later that year, some of the unaired shows appeared on PAX network. This was a great relief to some of the game winners, who didn't get paid until the broadcast, and were sworn to secrecy under threat of lawsuits. The remaining episodes later aired on GSN, who had bought the rights.

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