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National Bingo Night
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this high-energy primetime game show features typical amounts of contestant greed, as well as a pretty female assistant in cleavage-baring clothes. And the contestants' extreme high and low emotions are played for entertainment as they're held in suspense before learning whether they've won or not. But overall this addictive game of chance -- which includes a component that offers viewers a chance to play and win prizes online -- is fine for tweens and up.
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What's the story?
NATIONAL BINGO NIGHT is a high-stakes game show in which contestants compete against audience members for cash, vacations, and prizes. In each episode, contestants try their luck in three different Bingo games, hoping to rack up a $50,000 win before a studio audience member ends their hopes by filling in a winning card. The numbers are selected randomly from a two-and-a-half story Bingo-ball mixing sphere; the balls roll down a track to a lovely female assistant (what game show would be complete without one?), who then calls out the number. As the game progresses for the contestant, audience members also mark off their own cards; if one of them gets a 5-across Bingo (five spaces in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) before the contestant does, the contestant heads home empty-handed and glum-faced, while the audience winner pockets the house prize of $1,000. In an interactive twist, viewers are also able to play along from home by logging on to the show's Web site and printing their own cards; winners can submit their game pieces online for a chance to win cash and prizes.
Is it any good?
Hosted by Ed Sanders, National Bingo Night is entertaining family fun (and the interactive play-from-home angle is an added bonus). There's something oddly addictive about watching the massively oversized Bingo sphere filled with brightly hued tumbling balls, as well as the contestants' continual changes in fortune.
Full of energy, suspense, and thrilling victories (plus some agonizing defeats, of course), Bingo Night might just have you clamoring for your own ink dabber come show time. But if you're tempted to let your younger kids join in the fun, it's worth noting that the contestants and audience members are presented as adversaries -- one's success means the other's failure. Though the contestants mostly take it in stride, kids might need some explanation about the competitive nature of game shows like this one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of game shows. Why do people enjoy watching them? Can you learn anything from them, or is it just undemanding fun? Is it more entertaining to see contestants win or lose? Why? How do game show producers use suspense to capture viewers' attention? What effect does it have on the contestants? Families can also discuss how people win games like this one. Are some people naturally luckier than others, or do the contestants ever have to use logic or intelligence? If so, when and how?