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Minute to Win It -- TV Review

"Minute to Win It"

The Bottom Line

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Without football or Olympics, NBC has a Sunday slot to be filled. At the same time, it has a game show, "Minute to Win It," which is capable of filling an hour. At NBC these days, that qualifies as a programming match made in heaven.

In "Minute," contestants get 60 seconds to do silly but harmless things including blowing up a balloon and then releasing the air to blow paper cups off a table. Things like using only facial muscles to move a cookie from forehead to mouth. Things like rolling a marble to knock over a pencil standing on end.

There is an element of surprise in all of this but mostly it comes from realizing that, yes indeed, there are worse things NBC could do than put Jay Leno in primetime.

Just like "The Jay Leno Show," this show is an awkward fit. Whereas "Leno" looked as if it had broken loose from its late-night moorings and drifted into primetime, "Minute" appears to be a refugee from a daytime schedule.

There was a faint glimmer of hope for the show in the opening seconds, when the announcer, tongue firmly in cheek, invited viewers to see "the ultimate competition event." A campy approach to games with marbles, paper cups and pingpong balls might have made this show something more than background for checking e-mail.

Alas, the show played it straight the rest of the way. Host Guy Fieri, a Food Network star with hair styled by static electricity, provided the night's contestant with bland but sincere encouragement. By the way, that contestant was so perky it was easy to speculate she had ingested more than granola bars in the green room.

Fieri frequently reminds viewers that the grand prize is $1 million, but don't expect to see instant millionaires soon. To win that amount, a contestant must successfully complete 10 challenges, each harder than the previous. Winning the first one is worth only $1,000. Completing the second one brings the total to $2,500, and winning the third equates to $5,000.

In other words, in theory you could win enough to buy a mansion, but unless you complete most of these challenges, you'd better not contract for more than remodeling the bathroom.

Aspiring contestants are encouraged to visit the network Web site and practice the various games used on the show. Even if you don't get selected, the challenges are perfect for a child's birthday party. That in itself speaks volumes about the show's likely appeal.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Sunday, March 14 (NBC)
Production: Universal Media Studios in association with Friday Television
Host: Guy Fieri
Executive producers: Craig Plestis, Tim Puntillo, Mattias Olsson, Jock Millgardh
Senior supervising producers: Adam Zuvich, Matt Westmore, Rich Brown
Supervising producer: Sean Kelly
Producers: Heath Luman, Brian Spoor, Will Robertson, Brooks Todd, Michael Deitz, Max Poris
Line producer: Jeanne Haney
Supervising editor: Jason Stewart