Ding Dong September 2, 2021

First Impressions: Cash At Your Door

A late-pandemic-era game show from the makers of Cash Cab.

The pandemic has changed a whole lot about everything, from how we order our food to how we hang out with our friends. If you’re like me, you spent the whole pandemic seeing your friends on Zoom and hanging out with the members of your household way too much. And now, as the world enters what is hopefully the final stages of our Long Global Nightmare™, there are a few things we’ve learned.

  1. We definitely know how much toilet paper to buy now.
  2. Always buy the cool face mask.
  3. We’re sick and tired of watching people in little segmented boxes on television.

Sorry, Hollywood Squares.

E! has come to the rescue with a pandemic-era game show that doesn’t feel forced, a product of its time, or otherwise relegated to the status of “only because we can’t do other stuff.” Cash At Your Door, at least in the one episode I watched, was a pleasant, easy-to-watch light trivia game with enough personal elements to invest your emotions, but not so many that it wrings the sap out of your tear ducts.

Jason Biggs, of Primetime Pepsi Commerical-turned-Game Show fame, is the host of this new game, where he ambushes unsuspecting families at their homes, not unlike Ed McMahon (if you’re very old) or Xzibit (if you’re less old but still old), and plays several rounds of trivia for a chance to win $25,000 in cash. If a family gets three strikes, the game is over and Jason Biggs and his crew leaves their house, but if they need help they can track down a neighbor for assistance with a question. If this all sounds vaguely like Cash Cab but at strangers’ houses, it’s not a mistake: executive producers Stan Hsue and Allison Corn both were EPs of Cash Cab as well.

In the first episode, two families played Jason Biggs’ House of Games, which is split up into 4 rounds. The Entrance Exam happens at the families’ front foyer; it’s one (admittedly easy) question for $250 and the chance to play the main game. If the family gets that question correct, then Jason Biggs is in! The family celebrates and gets settled and Jason Biggs snoops through their house, pointing out cool or kitschy decor that may come into play later.

Then the main game begins. Round 1 consists of four questions, for $250 a piece. The final question in the round is a question about part of the decor or elements of their house, like “what are the four wooden words you’ve glued to your wall” or “how many monkey bars are in your basement”? The second round is a quick fire round where the questions are worth $500 a piece, and all the answers have something in common, like containing the letter X. If they pass this round they keep the money they’ve one and move to the final. The final round is the big money bonus round, where the family is given a category and a choice to risk money for more money: $1,000, $5,000 and the big prize of $25,000. They can walk away but they lose their bonus money if they get a question wrong.

Jason Biggs is charming enough; he is able to improvise and bounce off the families in the show well. He delivers questions and pregnant pauses for dramatic effect well, but never takes things too seriously. His humor fits well in a show like this—affable and a little corny, but it’s endearing.

And the trivia isn’t particularly difficult, but is challenging enough, not unlike Cash Cab. The show moves at a quick page, and the half hour breezes by before you know it. They have a very annoying habit of cutting to commercial in between questions, and I wish there was a little more visual energy than just a family sitting on a couch answering trivia questions most of the time. Overall, I don’t know if I would tune in live to see this show, but I would binge it on streaming. It’s definitely worth a watch and I’m interested to see if the show will give away its big prize this season.

Cash At Your Door airs new episodes Tuesdays at 11 PM apparently, on E!, but it’s easy enough to find on the NBC.com website as well.