On Monday night, NBC offered a “sneak preview” of “The Wall,” a new game show produced by LeBron James. The ubiquitous host Chris Hardwick announced that “tonight, we’re going to introduce you to a new game.”
But is it really new? As many people on Twitter have pointed out, the Wall looks a lot like the famed Plinko game from CBS’ “The Price is Right.” It’s bigger and brighter — instead of chips, contestants send glowing balls down the board. The balls turn green or red, depending on whether contestants get trivia questions right, but still.
According to CBS, Plinko gets its name from the sound the chips make as they bounce between pegs. On “The Wall,” the sounds are more suspenseful and accompanied by high-energy music.
Another major difference is the game’s jackpot. Plinko is usually played for as much as $50,000. (CBS notes that one Season 43 game upped the stakes to $1 million, but the contestant won only $600). The couple competing on the first episode of “The Wall” took home a whopping $1.3 million.
Of course, originality is relative when it comes to game shows, which thrive on increased stakes and variations. Think of the similarities among the popular trivia games “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” and ABC’s trivia juggernaut “500 Questions.” Last year, ABC got pretty good ratings for its reboots of 1970s-era game shows “Family Feud,” “Match Game” and “$100,000 Pyramid.”
It’s unclear whether “The Wall” was inspired by Plinko — we’ve reached out to NBC for comment. Viewers don’t seem to mind either way. NBC was the top-rated network Monday night, with 6.5 million viewers tuning in to preview “The Wall.” The game show had a solid lead-in with the “America’s Got Talent” holiday special, which played to 9.5 million viewers, slightly above the 9.4 million who tuned in to watch Michelle Obama’s interview with Oprah Winfrey on CBS.
“The Wall” officially premieres Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. NBC will present another “sneak preview” on Monday, Jan. 2 at 10, following the premiere of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.”