Why Hasn't Someone Resurrected Beat The Geeks For Today's Otaku-Friendly Universe?

Here's How We Should Bring It Back.


The early aughts. We were getting on the world wide web with Netscape 4, and GeoCities’s Hollywood and Hills neighbourhood was the up-and-coming hotspot of pop culture fandom. It was the dawn of the new geek self-awareness.

The internet, as young and slow as it was, was connecting like-minded otakus who shared common obsessions about film, TV, and celebrity. The fansites and usenet groups of 2000 were not yet the social media force of nature that empowered geeks worldwide today, but something was in the air and Comedy Central knew it.

And so Beat The Geeks was born.

Looking back on it now, the short-lived show (it had two short seasons starting in 2001) was very much a product of its time. The tone hit somewhere between Revenge Of The Nerds and Jeopardy: a test of pop culture trivia wrapped in a old fart TV executive’s poor understanding of these pale basement-dwelling weirdos in the internet. Yet we ate it up because there wasn’t a lot on the otaku menu back then.

Now we live in a very geek-friendly universe. Hell, we run this place. So isn’t it time for this idea to be brought into the now? Yes. Yes it is.

The Players: Geeks Are The New Normal

Beat The Geeks was an us-versus-them affair. The normals tried to answer more pop culture trivia questions than the four titular Geeks. There was the TV Geek, the Movie Geek (not the "Film Geek," pshaw!), the Music Geek, and then a guest geek who would sit in for an episode, with his or her specialty — such as Friends or Michael Jackson — would be thrown into the mix.

The Geeks were portrayed as know-it-all mama's boys, and if a game show could have a non-Whammy villain, they were it. Why? Because geeks deserved it. Damn you, 2001 geeks, so worthy of our collective scorn what with your arcane knowledge and love of lowbrow culture! Grrr!

There are enough geeks to go around these days that we don’t need these weird characters. The new Beat The Geeks should embrace the new geek culture wholeheartedly with a true geek-to-geek affair. Have players in small teams or 2 or 3 play against each other and eschew the stereotypical Geeks for celebrity geek guests (such as Patton Oswalt, Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters, or Neil DeGrasse Tyson) who can present special questions, be a Lifeline-style opportunity, or provide color commentary. It should feel familiar, like a podcast.

The Format: Award Both Encyclopedic Knowledge And Creativity

There were a few little rule gimmicks thrown in to the original Beat The Geeks, but basically it was a slower version of Jeopardy with TV, movie, and music questions. At Previously.TV, we are big fans of game night, so we’d mix the trivia with more creative challenges like we (and people like Jimmy Fallon) play -- Celebrity, Pictionary, and things in the spirit of Doug Benson’s Leonard Maltin Game (think Name That Tune with movie casts).

Important to the success of a game show is to play the damn game. That means no talking through your life history for three minutes before you answer. We’re all busy people. You answer in a few seconds or we move on! If you are not taking this game seriously, you don’t get on air. Have fun, but be engaged, know the rules, and play to win (looking at you, Hollywood Game Night).

Also, mix up the games! Shuffle the format and subject focus from episode to episode and expand the subject matter to include the pop science and maker cultures too. Let’s peddle some stealth higher-learning gateway drugs.

Finally, we want to see a structured system with a champion each season. Bragging rights are important.

The Host: One Of Us, One Of Us!

Rule #1: no booth babe sidekick crap. This is not E3 2002.

Our host should be “one of us.” Not mocking but engaged, yet still critical. I’d lean toward a female host to balance out what still can feel like a male-dominated sub-culture. Something more Thora Birch in Ghost World than Zooey Deschanel; a lady Chris Hardwick who might have a dissenting opinion about something once in a while.

The Set: Make It Your Own

Geeks love comfort and familiarity. The set shouldn’t be this post-Weakest Link museum security set with blue lasers and exposed spotlights. It should be your rec room, bedroom, and a comic shop tossed into a blender. In fact, if you want to go the distance, the contestants should dress up their parts of the set. If it ends up looking like a programmer’s cubicle or Star Trek bridge, that’s pretty cool -- it's like cosplay for the set.

Oh! We should allow cosplay too.

The Network: A Place We Can Say "Shit!"

This needs to live off network TV. In the real world, games can be serious, high-stakes business, and sometimes swearing is quite necessary and genuine. Also this isn’t going to bring in crazy-ass numbers, so a spot on cable feels right and should help its long-term prospects.


(Beat The Geeks - Gross Stereotypes + Better Sets) + Your Game Night Parties + (World Series Of Pop Culture + Science + Hobbies x Swearing) x (Eye Of The Tiger / Genuine Celebration Of Geek Culture) = Beat The Geeks 2013.

  • eag46

    Morgan Webb from the unfairly cancelled X-Play show could host. (curse you G4!) As for guests? Kari Byron from Mythbusters and Dr. Mae Jemison, astronaut AND ST:TNG guest star.

  • Andrew

    She would be fine, but only because Felicia Day is busy with her own empire.

  • http://glark.org/ David T. Cole

    Day was one of my choices too.

  • NoNeinNyet

    You had to go and bring up World Series of Pop Culture at the end. Don't mind me over in the corner grieving.

  • http://www.mysteriousexhortations.com/ Monty Ashley

    One time I was filling in for someone who wrote television listings, and, I got to write, "Tonight on Beat the Geeks, geeks get beaten." I'm still pleased with that line.

  • http://glark.org/ David T. Cole

    Our very own Daniel Rogge (nee Blau) was the Beat the Geeks Beatles expert.

  • Komentra

    Can we bring back Win Ben Stein's Money as well?

  • Claire


  • Paul Goebel

    I have a better version of BTG all ready to go as soon as somebody is ready to pay for it.

  • Andrew

    He's busy being an evolution denying dipshit.

  • Marc Edward Heuck

    I'm going to throw in with Paul's concept as well. Stick with the men who made it right the first time.

  • linesinaconversation

    While the geek aspect of the show was, and would again be, a big selling point, I don't quite understand why one would want to mess with the integrity of the show's format. I'd still take a peek at another geeky game show were it to appear, but the format was excellent as it was and needn't be screwed around with.

    Hell, I never saw more than one or two episodes from the first season, so I guess I'd be satisfied with just that.