Have you dreamed of participating in high stakes Plinko? Then The Wall is the perfect show for you. For everyone else, the show rehashes the classic The Price Is Right game and ups the ante with a dash of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Fox’s failed Million Dollar Money Drop, where contestants were asked questions and lost varying amounts of money based on how much they gambled, so that the game isn’t pure luck.
The Wall’s concept is extremely basic. Host Chris Hardwick is the glue that holds the show together and makes it compelling. He knows that there’s an underlying absurdity in playing a glorified Price Is Right game for an hour in primetime on NBC. Hardwick also knows that he has real people in front of him playing for life changing amounts of money and who can lose it all in an instant. Those two aspects of the game work against each other, but Hardwick knows how to comfort the contestants with a gentle joke, so everyone is laughing. When the joke would insult the contestant, Hardwick plays to the camera with an expression that conveys, “I’m thinking exactly what you’re thinking at home.”
As for the game play, a team participates in three rounds. Each round is different, but still fits in with the theme of the show. The first round has the couple standing in front of the wall answering questions and deciding which slot the ball will start its descent down. The purpose of this round is to build up the contestants’ bank. The second round splits up the couple. One person enters an isolation booth and answers Hardwick’s questions, while the other contestant decides where to drop the ball from, whether or not to double up, and whether or not their partner will know the answer to the question based solely on the potential answers. The third round is exactly like the second, except the 250K slot is replaced with a million dollar slot. After the third round, the contestant in the isolation booth still has no idea how much money they could walk away with, so they are provided a contract that they can accept and know exactly how much they will walk away with or rip up and risk winning nothing for the chance to walk away with whatever the partner has put in their bank so far. This can, and has, resulted in contestants walking away with nothing.
Despite a stolen premise, The Wall is worth watching once for its charming host and the excitement of watching the balls slide down a giant Plinko board. At an hour long, the show gets boring and repetitive. If the show is cut to a half hour, it may work. In its current form, The Wall would work best as a special event aired around the holidays because, even when the contestants lose, Hardwick points out that they still win because they bet on and believe in each other. Even when the contestants are doing badly, Hardwick always keeps in mind that at its core, The Wall is feel good television.