October 23, 2006 12:00 PM

NBC (Fridays, 8 p.m. ET)



If this new NBC game show suggests a cross between Deal or No Deal and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, that’s because all three are the brainchildren of a Dutch conglomerate called Endemol. That sounds more like a medicated shampoo than a savvy creator of internationally marketable TV hits. But so what? Roll out the game shows, watch trade barriers topple!

Like Deal, the physical production is off-putting: blue, cold, industrial. Yet I found 1 vs. 100 (which airs at 9 p.m. ET its first night, Oct. 13) much more enjoyable. The rules are too complicated to explain beyond noting that it’s a trivia challenge with a $1 million prize and, yes, it pits one player against 100 others. The game itself plays out cleanly enough, and there’s an unexpected emotional surge as you watch one brave little human contestant stiffening and testing his or her resolve against the yells emitted from a mammoth bank of opposing cubicles. It feels like the stirring climax either of a Hollywood movie—say, Obi Wan before Star Wars‘ intergalactic parliament—or maybe a revolutionary tribunal.

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