I've been thinking about the Japanese standards for quality, and I've come to the conclusion that I prefer them. I've long preferred the difficulty levels of Japanese videogames over their American counterparts. I'd rather sweat in an abandoned shed in Resident Evil 4 with two bullets and four zombies than be the flag-waving bullet sponge capable of carrying ten different rifles at once in Call of Duty or something. I like to be tested in a game and I like the laws of physics and anatomy to be realistic.
Game shows are the same. I do like shows like Ninja Warrior, where there are absolute standards of quality. You have to complete the course, and if you don't, you lose. It's been running for ten years, and only one person has ever completed the course in the final (which is much harder than the qualifier). For nine years, there has not been a winner. Can you imagine this happening in a British show?
I've got the X Factor on at the moment, as I type, and this would be the same. Like most British game shows, they don't pick winners, they pick best qualified losers. The twelve judged best would always make the final, regardless of how good they really are. If the 'fastest finger first' winner on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire' took two minutes and only got one answer right, they'd still go through. There are no absolute barriers to entry, no predetermined ability threshholds. The format requires that someone play and if we can't have good, we'll make do with least bad.
I think the worst of them all is 'Deal or No Deal'. There's literally no skill involved at all. Talk about a level playing field. Just guess a random number, and if your guess is beneficial, everyone tells you how well you did. Yay! Way to guess a random number! Of course, you are as likely as anyone else in the world to do well, because it is totally random but take your comfort where you can, I say. Take the credit for a sunny day, while you're at it.