Treasure Hunters, NBC’s answer to the Emmy-studded CBS stalwart, The Amazing Race, debuted Sunday evening with a mostly pedestrian two-hour episode. Treasure Hunters boasts itself as the thinking man’s reality show with oodles of codes to be broken and riddles to be unraveled but actually came off as a stodgy paint-by-numbers knock off of The Amazing Race.
Cliches to Your Mark, Get Set, Fall into Predictable Scenerios!
The first and most forgivable reality stand-by Treasure Hunters employs is an all too typical teams set-up. The ten 3-person teams are eerily similar to every reality show archetype and quickly reflect the most recent casts of The Amazing Race. There’s the Fogal family led by Pastor Brad shining in the image and likeness of the father-less Weaver family from The Amazing Race. Then we have Treasure Hunters Team Genius/tubby batch of dorks echoing the pastiness and nerdosity of Dave and Lori. And it must be noted that The Amazing Race had an African-American family named the Black family and Treasure Hunters has a set of African-American brothers belonging to the Brown family. From there you get your beauty queens, young professionals, ex-CIA, military, overt east coasters, mullet-sporting Texans, and three stunning women with six artificial breasts.
When it comes to players, not too much new here.
The First Team to Find Product Placement Wins
In this age of Tivo and satellite options, product placement is well entrenched in the television status quo. Treasure Hunters is no different. However these placement spots seemed so much more pronounced than The Amazing Race and then were non-existent in the remainder of the episode. The Motorola Razr phone played prominently in the “action” but at no point in the two hours did teams even begin to use their Visa cards or Orbitz.com. Teams lugged around manufacturer-less laptops only to use them once. Teams were more likely to wear clumsy Ask.com t-shirts than use Ask.com and its “special search enhancements.”
I’m curious to see how sponsor KY Sensual Mist will weave its product into game play.
“There’s Such a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever”
Treasure Hunters is trying to be the smartest competition on TV, but its players and action fall well short of being either smart or a competition. The result of episode one was never in doubt. Two teams coupled on one bus were obviously racing themselves out of the game leaving the other eight to lope unexcitingly into the next round. Whereas The Amazing Race is lauded for packing tons of racing into one episode, Treasure Hunters had merely one clue in two hours that had any lasting impact on the result. Brown brothers drowning, Fogal daughter puking and whining, and Hanlon ineptitude really had no effect on the outcome.
One specific instance involving Team “Genius” showed Francis giving the Texans a six-digit code to open a “time capsule.” Francis then screwed up one of the digits when passing the code to his own team. Now you’d think this misstep might prompt some serious reality-worthy drama, but it never materialized. Team Genius bitched and moaned, fussing with the wrong code only to be shown a minute later opening a time capsule, saving the day, and never addressing Francis’s stupidity.
After two hours of watching, all of my fingernails emerged intact.
Treasure Hunters offers its audience a weekly chance to win $10,000 and a season long chance at $200,000. That’s a nice advance on its competition courtesy of sponsor Genworth Financial. I did participate, but I decided not to pay the 99-cent premium text-messaging fee. That’s probably why Frank Teste of Melbourne, FL beat me to ten large. Yet, this potential windfall will not rescue the show. Without some real action and game play, I don’t see Treasure Hunters catching the critical acclaim or audience loyalty of The Amazing Race.
Either way, I’m going to pay some attention at first and offer you my personal handicapping of the nine remaining teams.
Hope You Enjoy the Ask.com t-shirt