5 Tolerable Game Shows for Smart Kids In Honor of Fox's Intolerable My Little Genius


The upcoming Mark Burnett game show My Little Genius seems set to prove, like the Scripps National Spelling Bee, that hyperventilating prodigies are always telegenic. However, there's a big difference between the new Fox series and that ceremony, and it's the deplorable handle itself, "My Little Genius," which conjures memories of that urine-letting wunderkind from Magnolia. Before My Little Genius arrives and makes its contestants, your kids, and you feel inadequate, Movieline revisits five shows that tested kids' brainpower without stemming them further from their gawking peers.

1. Make the Grade

This 1989-91 game show on Nickelodeon broke down its trivia by grade level (much like far cheesier current hit Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?), which is a clever way of making the game both cool for its viewership and easy videotape fare for a lazy substitute teacher.

2. Get the Picture

Though its games were often pop-culture-centric, Get the Picture tested memory skills and perception with some aplomb. It also starred then-Nickelodeon fixture Mike O'Malley, who would go on to host Nickelodeon GUTS, star on the short-lived, much-missed The Mike O'Malley Show, and unnerve me with grizzled weariness on Glee.

3. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego turned the single dorkiest middle-school subject, geography, into an espionage-filled, sleuthing caper. While the bonus game was exquisitely unfair (let's see you tote seven man-sized poles to different parts on a giant African map in 45 seconds), the level of knowledge required for the game was impressive. Plus, one of the villains was named Patty Larceny. That's cute.

4. Jep!

One of Game Show Network's first full-fledged series (as opposed to the weird call-in shows they specialized in first) was a revamp of Jeopardy! for kids. Aside from the stunts and occasional slime precipitation, Jep! tested a range of subjects. It almost makes you forgive that it was called Jep!

5. Gladiators 2000

If American Gladiators is not a potent enough mindscrew for you, Gladiators 2000 adds trivia and scampering children to the mix. Admirably, the show found a way to transform its usual bungee-related events into quizzes about nutrition and fitness, but it also made the original adult gladiators stand around and talk about the Food Guide Pyramid. Right, because growling lady gladiator Zap earned her pulsating biceps by eating fruit with her cereal. Still, at least it didn't mock its contestants with a patronizing title.

Coming Soon: Fox's Little Genius [Zap2It]