'Geeks Who Drink': TV Review

Jaimie Trueblood/Syfy
Summer fun, but the questions are easy.

Zachary Levi hosts a game show based on a popular bar-trivia contest.

There’s something so delightful about when celebrities are big pop culture fans, just like the rest of us.

The new Syfy game show Geeks Who Drink understands this. Hosted by Zachary Levi and executive produced by his production company, The Nerd Machine, the 12-episode series pits two teams against each other to see who is the nerdiest of them all. Each team is headed by a celebrity captain. In the premiere, Scott Porter (Hart of Dixie, Friday Night Lights) heads up the Tequila Mockingbird team, while Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles) guides his team, Han Solo Cups.

Levi, who was on the front line of making geekiness cool as the star of Chuck, is an affable host who looks like he’s having a great time. His upbeat attitude makes the show all the more amusing, as do some of his cheeky one-liners. “Fun fact: one of Keira Knightley’s first roles was as Queen Amidala’s decoy in The Phantom Menace — while Phantom Menace was a decoy for an actual Star Wars movie,” he zings before immediately adding, "I love you, George, but we all know it."  To the losing team, he says: “You’ve won the monumental task of apologizing to everyone you told to watch tonight."

Based on a popular pub-trivia contest of the same name, the show is all in good fun, with the competitors drinking when the game is tied, when the show goes to break or anytime Levi tells them to. There’s a segment devoted to Jell-O shots — no, not the kind you slurp down; this is throwing cubes of Jell-O into a basketball net.

The celebrities know their stuff. Porter clearly is devoted to comic books and video games. Future team captains, including Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Dominic Monaghan (Lost, The Lord of the Rings) and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), are a sci-fi fan’s dream.

The contestants, whom Levi describes as “the best of the best, or at least the best we could find,” obviously love all things science fiction and fantasy. Twenty-eight-year-old Mallory has played every Star Wars game. Chris, 30, has attended Comic-Con for the last 10 years.

But part of the fun of watching a game show is being pleased with yourself when you know the correct answer to the questions. The questions on Geeks Who Drink are decidedly softball. In a category entitled “Batman vs. Superman,” the players must determine whether a certain fact is true of Batman or Superman. One fact is: “on a current Fox series.” It seems pretty obvious that almost everyone would know that the Fox series Gotham features the young Bruce Wayne.

Later, actor John DiMaggio pops up with this question: “My old Futurama co-star Katey Sagal earned a Golden Globe in 2011 for her work on what gritty biker drama?” Is there any other gritty biker drama on recent television besides Sons of Anarchy?

Maybe the questions are easy because no one is playing for big money. The winning team in the premiere walks away with $260, a Stars Wars lightsaber, $500 in movie tickets and an Xbox One. But the show gives you the feeling of hanging out on a Saturday night with your friends — and that’s not a bad thing at all.

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