First Impression Review: TV5’s “Fill In The Bank” and “Bawal Na Game Show,” Game Shows in the Time of COVID

Fill in the Bank Bawal na Game Show TV5

TV5 heralded its return to original local entertainment programming with the premieres of the APT Entertainment-produced game shows Fill In The Bank and Bawal Na Game Show. While neither show is going to drive a significant amount of new or returning viewers to TV5, they are both simple and accessible fresh programs during a time when such content is at a premium.

Both shows, however, feel very much like they should be regular segments on the flagship Eat Bulaga. And considering a common criticism is the noontime show’s lack of creativity and inability to diversify its games to the point of milking a segment’s popularity until it’s dry, perhaps these concepts should have been developed for it instead.

But it’s also obvious that these are two shows developed in the time of coronavirus. Filming in a TV5 studio formerly used for news and sports, both shows need minimal set-up and are able to work without any fancy frills. They are not the glossiest game shows to ever air. But it’s certainly understandable considering the situation.

Fill in the Bank Bawal na Game Show TV5

While both shows are an hour-long, they could easily be slimmed down to just 30 minutes each. Eliminating unnecessary banter from the hosts and contestants and tightening up each game could easily speed up both shows and be easier to digest for the greater audience looking for something easy to fill their evenings with.

Both shows felt stretched out when they could be much more streamlined. Instead of the hour feeling like a chore to get through, both could easily be a half hour that leaves you wanting to come back for more.

First up is the Jose Manalo-Pokwang-hosted Fill In The Bank. Seemingly inspired by The Price is Right and borrowing games from Eat Bulaga itself, the main premise of the show is a pair of contestants competing to bank the most money from each round through finance-based games of luck. From picking a lucky ATM card to guessing prices to collecting and transferring coins to be weighed, these are quick, simple games that perfectly fit with its theme.

Fill in the Bank Bawal na Game Show TV5

For Bawal na Game Show, Paolo Ballesteros and Wally Bayola as twin sisters Barby Ghorl and Bebe Ghorl guide four contestants through elimination rounds featuring various challenges such as balancing beanbags on their head or not moving even when a snake is about to wrap itself around their bodies.

The show bares a similarity to a just premiered ABC game show titled Don’t. The theme of both shows is to “Don’t do X” or “Bawal mag-X.” And both feature varying degrees of outrageous games. Though Bawal na Game Show is certainly on a far smaller scale than the American series.

The hosts are four of the most well-known comedians in the industry. And the style of comedy is what you come to expect from a Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Paolo Ballesteros and Pokwang or something you’d see on every day on Eat Bulaga (costumes and make-up included). Depending on your personal tastes, that can be a good or bad thing.

But even though many of the jokes or gags fall flat, the four are dependable hosts who probably could do much better with a shorter episode runtime rather than be forced to try and fill almost a third of each episode with unnecessary banter.

Though part of TV5’s “first wave” of new programs, neither Fill in the Bank nor Bawal na Game Show are the type of network-relaunching concepts that will move the needle in a significant way. They aren’t big budget, network-produced shows. Instead, they look and feel like the typical American daytime syndicated game show.

Fill in the Bank Bawal na Game Show TV5

That’s not to say the shows aren’t good. They’re enjoyable enough and with some tightening up, they could enjoy longer runs. Or perhaps get transplanted onto Eat Bulaga.

Regardless, both shows are fascinating looks at television production in the time of COVID-19. And maybe what’s needed now isn’t some groundbreaking concept, but simple entertainment that can boost the mood of an audience that could use a quick smile and laugh.

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