Million Second Quiz: NBC’s round the clock game show starts tonight

Ryan Seacrest hosts national trivia contest on NBC

Photo: NBC/Million Second Quiz

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 —NBC’s latest attempt to breathe life into its patented limp-dishrag lineup will either be a defining moment in the history of TV or a colossal bomb of epic proportions. Tonight, “Million Second Quiz” starts its 12-day run. But a single burning question lingers in the late summer air: will anyone watch?

“Million Second Quiz” is a live, interactive trivia contest that will continue non-stop, on and off the air, for a million seconds. Let’s see: that’s one million seconds divided by 60 seconds in a minute = 16, 666.6667 minutes; divided by 60 minutes in an hour = 277.777778 hours; divided by 24 hours in a day = 11.5740741 which is actually somewhat less than twelve days. But since they don’t teach math in school any more, that’s probably close enough for network work, or at least for the show’s producers (which include the odious Ryan Seacrest), for whom a cool million here and there is likely a rounding error anyway.

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Okay NBC, we get it. If you’re going to dream, dream big. But trying to figure out exactly how the game is played is a migraine-inducing effort that will likely drive even the most seasoned Google search fans scrambling back to the safety of Facebook to catch their breath.

Apparently NBC thinks that a national trivia game accessible to everyone is the latest evolution of TV programming. Combine “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and “Survivor,” add a gazillion unemployed, itchy-fingered smartphone users, and the result is “Million Second Quiz.”

Each night NBC will air an hour of the contest from a huge hourglass-shaped structure in midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile the rest of the 24/7 contest will be viewable from within the Million Second Quiz app. Wow. Like we don’t have anything better to do with our lives, except look for jobs we’ve already figured out don’t exist.

The whole thing sounds bold and creative on the surface, sort of like Jeff Bezos buying the dying Washington Post and assuring everyone their jobs are really secure. But someone should remind NBC that the average American these days has the attention span of a gnat. We can’t be bothered to turn away from our cell phones long enough to have a normal conversation, much less follow a trivia contest for 12 long days. A normal conversation, you say? Is there an app for that?

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More than likely, a goodly number of otherwise idle viewers will probably tune in for the premiere and the finale. But the allure of something shiny and new has a 15-minute shelf life at best these days, especially if it confirms the fact that most of us will never win a game of “Jeopardy.” That’s somewhat akin to those 15 minutes of fame we’re all supposed to get but never do.

Hats off to NBC for trying to do something different on a grand scale. But did the network really have to force feed us more of Ryan Seacrest?

Most of us have yet to forgive Seacrest for introducing the world to the Kardashians, the only humans in the world who appear to be fully functional without any evidence of a working brain. (Actually, there are quite a few examples of this mutation in Washington, too.)

Anyhow, do we really need another reason to hate Ryan? If so, “Million Second Quiz” might just fit the bill.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

6:30 p.m.

ESPN: Monday Night Football: (Live) Eagles at Redskins

8 p.m.

ABC: Shark Tank: (Repeat) A modern-day slip business; a scrubbing tool; dog-friendly frozen yogurt; an electric unicycle; an update on the “Lollacup.”

CBS: How I Met Your Mother: (Repeat) Years ago in Central Park, Robin buried a “something old” for her wedding, but now she can’t locate it. Meanwhile, Marshall and Lily ask Ted to help them pack for Italy; and Barney spends some bonding time with Robin Sr.

FOX: Bones: (Repeat) The death of a journalist at a biohazard facility sparks fear of a viral outbreak, but the search for a cure intensifies when intern Arastoo is infected with the same mutated virus that killed the reporter.

NBC: Million Second Quiz: (Live) Contestants face off in intense trivia bouts in the series premiere of this interactive game show. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who is also an executive producer.

CW: Hart of Dixie: (Repeat) Brick’s love life suffers after a secret about him gets out. Meanwhile, Zoe tries to share her feelings, but she has bad timing; Wade and Lemon’s working relationship gets off to a rocky start; and George looks after Tansy’s reckless brothers.

8:30 p.m.

CBS: Two and a Half Men: (Repeat) Lyndsey’s breakup with Alan leaves him crushed, so Walden tries to lift his spirits and help him.

9 p.m.

ABC: Mistresses: (New) A birthday road trip takes an unexpected turn; April makes a decision about the men in her life; Elizabeth and Karen have a final showdown.

CBS: 2 Broke Girls: (Repeat) A popular TV show shoots a scene at the diner, and the director offers Caroline a role.

NBC: American Ninja Warrior: (New) The Las Vegas finals continue.

CW: Breaking Pointe: (New) With closing night of “Cinderella” just around the corner, the dancers continue to give it all they’ve got. Allison finds herself getting closer to Rex, while Beckanne and Chase enjoy the last moments of what may be their last performance together at Ballet West.

9:30 p.m.

CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) Howard and Raj try to discover where Sheldon disappears to every afternoon at 2:45. Meanwhile, jealousy appears to have insinuated itself into Leonard and Penny’s relationship.

10 p.m.

ABC: Castle: (Repeat) When a government whistleblower is murdered, Beckett and Castle must figure out who is responsible and determine why Homeland Security is trying to take over the case.

CBS: Under the Dome: (New) Barbie tries to protect Julia before Big Jim finds her. Meanwhile, Big Jim stirs up the locals who demand justice for all of Barbie’s alleged crimes; and Joe and Norrie search for a new hiding place for the mini dome.

NBC: Siberia: (New) As the camp dwellers are taken hostage by natives, the rescue team makes a gruesome discovery.

10:15 p.m.

ESPN: Monday Night Football: (Live) Texans at Chargers

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Basketball Wives at 8 p.m. on VH1

WWE Monday Night Raw at 8 p.m. on USA

The Real Housewives of Miami at 9 p.m. on BRAVO

Fast ‘N Loud at 9 p.m. on DSC

Love It or List It at 9 p.m. on HGTV

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

Below Deck at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

Teen Mom 3 at 10 p.m. on MTV

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Hotel Impossible at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel

Turn & Burn at 10:05 p.m. on DSC

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Trouble With the Curve on CINEMAX

License to Kill on ENC

Heathers on FLIX

Ghost Rider on FXM

Kung Fu Panda on FX

Life of Pi on HBO

Scarface on IFC

The Bourne Ultimatum on Syfy

9 p.m.

Clear History on HBO

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted on MOMAX

V/H/S on SHO

After the Sunset on STARZ

Later tonight:

Precious at 9:30 p.m. on BET

200 Cigarettes at 9:45 p.m. on FLIX

The Game at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX

Nurse Betty at 10 p.m. on TMC

Ghostbusters at 10:15 p.m. on ENC

Killer Joe at 10:15 p.m. on HBO

Ghost Rider at 10:30 p.m. on FXM

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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