Opportunity Knocks



Airdate: 8-9 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 23


LOS ANGELES -- The game show/reality show boom moves forth into oblivion, the tipping point seemingly having been reached during Sunday night's Emmy telecast when the five reality hosts opened the show with several minutes of unscripted nothingness.

ABC's "Opportunity Knocks" supplies an easy knocking opportunity for a critic in that it purports to be doing something wholly original when it's really pretty much just "Family Feud" minus the feud. The gambit: A game show erupts in the middle of a residential neighborhood as one family opens its life to a production crew and then answers questions about who they are and what they do as their frenzied neighbors cheer them on (and probably secretly wish them ill).

In the opener that features the Gutierrez family, the mom, dad, son and daughter are smiling and upbeat to the point of mania as they compete to win a pile of money and nifty prizes like a cherry condition 1969 Camaro (Dad) and new kitchen appliances (Mom). They're obliged to respond to queries about their lives, such as which state is missing from the son's state quarters' collection and the dates of relatives' birthdays. Here's the real problem: There is no real risk other than not collecting money. The way to make this thing sing would be to have the family members put their possessions on the line. Miss this question and we chainsaw that precious heirloom passed down from grandma or take an ax to your actual computer hard drive!

On the one occasion in the premiere when something of real sentimental value to the family is put on the chopping block -- in this case, a picture of a lion painted for a class assignment -- you could feel the tension ratchet up. So here's a suggestion: Change the name of the show to "You Bet Your Stuff," have the losses be real and personal, and watch the ratings soar. As it is, "Opportunity" looks to be just another blown opportunity -- unless producers Ashton Kutcher, JD Roth and company listen to me, that is.

Production: 3Ball Prods., Katalyst Films. Host: JD Roth.
Producers: Claudine Magre, Dana David.
Director: Rich Brian Dipirro.
Head writer: Michael X. Ferraro.
Writer: Anna Lotto.
Based on a format by: Peter Isacksen
Executive producers: Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson.
Co-executive producer: Kathy Sutula.
Supervising producer: Jason Gabel.
Costume designer: Wendy Benbrook.
Editors: Mike Bary, Michael Korpacz, Sam Mussasi, Devrim Wellman.
Music: Jeff Lippincott, Mark T. Williams.