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Christmas game shows anyone?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Monday, NBC debuts its limited-run holiday game show "Take It All" at 9 p.m. It runs nightly through Dec. 14 and concludes on Dec. 17.

The Howie Mandel-hosted series originally was called "Howie Mandel's White Elephant," and that's basically what it is - only with much better prizes than what you'll find at your white elephant party. We're talking luxury cars, exotic trips, VIP experiences and other things worth thousands of dollars.

When it gets to the final two players, they can choose to keep all the prizes they have or try to take all of them. If they both choose "keep mine," they go home with what they've got. If one chooses that and the other chooses "take it all," the latter person gets everything, but if they both choose "take it all," they both go home with nothing.

Turning the white elephant gift exchange into a televised game show got me thinking about how other holiday-themed things could be turned into competitions for public consumption. Here are a few I came up with:

"Santa's Workshop of Horrors" is a "Fear Factor" take on Christmas that would include things like relays over broken glass ornaments, eggnog chugging and digging through ornament hooks while blindfolded to find the one that's not hopelessly tangled with the rest.

For the gross-out factor, contestants would eat kiviak, a traditional Inuit dish in Greenland that's popular at Christmas. It's made from auks (seabirds) preserved in the body of a hollowed-out seal and buried underground for up to six months - until they're liquefied.

For the big finishing challenge, I propose an obstacle course: pull a giant sleigh around to gather all the "12 Days of Christmas" gifts, unload them in front of a fireplace and have one contestant climb up the chimney to the roof. There, he or she will untangle a mass of rope lights and use them to rappel to the ground, and when they touch down, the other contestant will take off to scale a giant Christmas tree to top it off with a star.

The winners will get everything on their holiday wish list -- all wrapped by the losing team, who must complete the task dressed in elf costumes.

"Living Nativities" is an action-packed challenge drawing inspiration from various parts of the Christmas story. Things would start off with a nativity challenge: building a stable, swaddling a teammate and hunting for a tiny plastic baby buried in the manger's hay. To bring the shepherds and angels into the picture, teams would have to round up a herd of sheep and then assemble a choir of angels to give an impromptu sidewalk concert.

And it wouldn't be the Christmas story without the wise men, so to work that in, teams would gather sticks of frankincense and myrrh incense to be lit on a gold burner, using clues gained from the other challenges to find the materials' locations.

Teams would play partially for charity, with the winning team and its charity getting a big prize and the charities of the losing teams getting a smaller donation. 'Tis the season, after all.

"Project Reindeer Runway" and "Santa Chef Showdown" are thematic talent competitions. Fashion challenges in "Runway" would be ugly Christmas sweaters, Christmas shoes, pet holiday outfits and angel costumes. "Showdown" would feature chefs in full Santa costume working with a key ingredient each week, like eggnog, candy canes, sugarplums, fruitcake and maybe even some Schweddy Balls.

(Speaking of Mr. Schweddy, see him and the "Delicious Dish" gals again when NBC repeats "SNL Christmas" at 8 p.m. Friday.)

With all the terrible reality shows on the air that have inexplicably found audiences, I think these could gain some traction as seasonal shows. I'd like my payments via giant novelty check, please.

•••

Series premieres: "Sin City Rules," 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC (powerful Las Vegas women); "Bamazon," 10 p.m. Sunday, History (Alabama construction workers search for Amazon gold); "Amish Mafia," 9 p.m. Wednesday, Discovery (protectors of the community in Lancaster, Pa.); "Storage Wars New York," 10 p.m. Tuesday, A&E (bargain-hunting spin-off).

Season finales: "Amazing Race," 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS; "Basketball Wives LA," 8 p.m. Monday, VH1; "My Shopping Addiction," 11 p.m. Monday, Oxygen; "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Lifetime; "LOLwork," 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo.

Specials: "Mario and Courtney's Wedding Fiesta," 8 p.m. Saturday, TLC (Mario Lopez's wedding); "Most Stylin' Stars of the Year," 8 p.m. Sunday, MTV; "Syfy's 20th Anniversary Special," 9 p.m. Saturday, Syfy; "Barbara Walters Presents: The Most Fascinating People of 2012," 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC (includes Ben Affleck, Gabby Douglas and Honey Boo Boo); "12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief," 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, AMC (with Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys and more).

Awards specials: "VGN Ten," 9 p.m. Friday, Spike (2012 Video Game Awards); "The American Giving Awards," 8 p.m. Saturday, NBC (honoring charities, hosted by Joel McHale); "CMT Artists of the Year," 10 p.m. Saturday, CMT; "American Country Awards," 8 p.m. Monday, Fox.

Christmas specials: "Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas, Baby," 7:30 p.m. Sunday, PBS; "The National Christmas Tree Lighting," 8 p.m., and "B.E. Taylor Christmas Concert," 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS2; "Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays," 10 p.m. Monday, NBC.

Of note: "Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes and star Kerry Washington on "Oprah's Next Chapter," 9 p.m. Sunday, OWN.

Movie of note: "Casablanca," 8 p.m. Thursday, TCM.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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