When it comes to promoting a big, two-week television event the whole family can watch and play along with, most people wouldn’t compare that event to a Depression-era allegory about the depths of human exploitation. But most people aren’t as accustomed to tragedy as NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, so maybe that’s why he chose the dance-marathon melodrama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? as a reference point when introducing the members of the Television Critics Association to NBC’s ’round-the-clock game show, Million Second Quiz. Sure, Million Second Quiz will be its own sort of marathon, but it’s unlikely to break the bodies and spirits of its competitors in quite the same way as the central event of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?—unless the game show also requires the midstream introduction of grueling footraces to thin the contestant herd.
Or maybe Greenblatt was simply alluding to the fact that, like They Shoot Horses’ dance marathon, Million Second Quiz will also be overseen by an ingratiating emcee who knows a thing or two about turning human misery into a spectator sport: Ryan Seacrest. It was announced today that Seacrest will play the modern-day Gig Young to the Jane Fondas and Michael Sarrazins quizzing two weeks of their lives away in a three-story glass structure in the middle of New York City, keeping yet another hosting job all to himself beginning September 9. “I’m so excited to be hosting this new live game show on NBC, as it’s really a fun and different format that I believe will generate lots of fans across different platforms,” Seacrest stated, managing to not to draw parallels between a game show with an endurance component and a 1935 novel (or its 1969 film adaptation) that takes its title from a flip justification for a mercy killing.
Still, Seacrest’s words could’ve been much more poorly chosen: He could’ve taken a look at how Greenblatt prepped/warned the TCA about Million Second Quiz by saying “You can actually join the game if you get pulled out of your home” and concluded that he’s excited to be hosting a new live game show that brings the dystopian terror of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale into the real world.