A brand new game show premiered on VH1 this week. It is called The World Series of Pop Culture. If you haven't seen it yet, the premise is two teams of three members each go head-to-head, answering somewhat-to-extremely obscure questions about, well, pop culture. Movie stars, rappers, television theme songs, child actors, etc.
While some of you might be scratching your heads saying, "Huh? What on earth is he talking about?" my interesting fact for the day is that I actually tried out for this program. Let me take you back to early April of this year...
I had seen a full-page ad for The World Series of Pop Culture in my most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, but I had instantly dismissed it as being one of those shows that only featured contestants for whom Paris Hilton and her daily exploits were their very life. Not long after this, however, Mrs. Educator and I were talking, and she told me that her husband had put a team together and filled out the application online. Not only that, but she informed me that his team had been contacted by someone at the show and invited to a tryout in downtown Dallas.
I mean absolutely no respect to Mr. Educator, but that piece of news got me thinking, "Well hey, if HE can get accepted, then I certainly can!"
The format of the show calls for a team of three people, so I went home and recruited my brother, Phineus, and another local friend, Flipper. We knew that our combined knowledge of all things pop was a force to be reckoned with, and we even got together the weekend before our Dallas tryout. We put ourselves through an intense training session that must have lasted for, oh, at least two hours. It was the most rigorous game of DVD Trivial Pursuit ever known.
I came up with a name for our team, and it's one I'm rather proud of, still. While our fellow auditioners had rather lame names like "The Texas Connection "and "the Vampirates" our moniker actually reflected an honored piece of 80s nostalgia. We were (and are, if you like) "And Knowing Is Half the Battle."
In case you're not familiar with this phrase, I will now explain its origins. It is the last half of a famous saying that was uttered at the end of every episode of G.I. Joe. After the main cartoon had ended, there would be a sort of public service announcement involving kids doing something dumb, like swimming during a lightning storm or drinking milk that was two years old. Okay so they were never doing anything quite THAT stupid, but sometimes they would be about to take aspirin without parental supervision, or riding their bikes over railroad tracks -- that sort of thing. Sure enough, an elite member of the G.I. Joe strike force would happen along and say, "Hey, you dumba--!! Knock it off!" Actually, I'm kidding again. He or she would explain kindly to the kids the error inherent in their actions and set them on the right path. At this, the kid would invariably claim, "Now we know!" To which the soldier would reply: (all together now)
"And knowing is half the battle."
So, armed with our fantastic name and our even more fantastic knowledge of movies of the 80s and 90s, we set foot into the ballroom of the hotel in downtown Dallas (which I don't remember the name of). There were about 28 teams there, and we all sat at long tables with pencils and an envelope in front of us. At a given signal, we were instructed to open the envelope, removed the test from within, and answer as many of the 50 questions as we could. When the time was up, the tests were collected, and we were told only that every member of the team had to pass the test in order for the team to move on. We were not told what exactly "passing" entailed, or how many questions each member had to get right, so all we could do was cross our fingers.
When the people came back into the room with the official results, they read off the names of the teams who had passed the written exam. Out of the 28 teams there for that audition (and there were eight or nine audition periods that day), only four teams passed the written exam. And Knowing Is Half the Battle was one of those teams that passed.
So after many high fives, Phineus, Flipper, and I moved into the hallway with the other three remaining teams and awaited our turn for the on-camera interview. In retrospect, the interview portion is probably the reason that we did not make the actual tournament. We're just too darn nice! All three of us are pretty laid-back, with a dry sense of humor, calm and collected. Judging by the teams that I have now seen this week on the televised program, they were looking for people a bit more flamboyant. Perhaps we should have acted out one of those G.I. Joe public service announcements or jumped up and down in our seats with every answer, like Tom Cruise would have done. Instead, we were our usual selves, and we were not invited back to enter the tournament.
Now that the show has been on a couple of times, Flipper and I are not sure whether we are more disappointed or relieved that we didn't make it. We e-mailed each other right away and said, "I could've answered those questions!" But if you've seen the show, then you know what I mean when I say the production values are not exactly high. It sort of has the feel of a spelling bee -- and not the national bee. But it does seem to be done in the spirit of fun, and I have to admit I'm enjoying watching it.
Maybe there will be a season 2, and our chance will come again. If we want to take it, that is.