“Cash Cab” kicked-off in 2005 on the Discovery Channel. As someone with a lifelong love of game shows, I was instantly hooked. The premise: simple but genius – asking trivia questions to regular people during a taxi ride in NYC. As host Ben Bailey said every time complete strangers got into his cab, “It’s a TV game show that takes place right here in my taxi.”
You get two lifelines: a Mobile Shout-Out, where you could “phone a friend”, and a Street Shout-Out, where Bailey would pull-over and you’d ask a random stranger or two for help with a difficult question. When the cab is stuck at a red light, “that triggers a Red Light CHALLENGEEEE!” – a multi-part question that could earn you an additional $250.
The catch: three wrong answers (aka three strikes), and you’d lose all your money and get kicked-out of the cab on the spot. But if you made it all the way to your destination without three strikes, you could go for Double or Nothing on a Video Bonus question.
When I was younger, I memorized the Cash Cab license plate (and it did change once over the course of the show), and I looked for it every time I was in The Big Apple. Though I always wondered that if I ever happened to get into it, if I would want to play, or just ask Bailey a ton of questions about the making of the show.
“Cash Cab” won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show in 2008, ’09 and ’10, and it was nominated the following three years. And Bailey earned Outstanding Game Show Host in 2010, ’11 and ’13, and he was nominated four other times.
In 2010, Bailey appeared on NBC’s “30 Rock” with a hilarious cameo, as Tracy Morgan’s character answered questions in the cab.
GSN recently acquired the rights to show re-runs of “Cash Cab” every weeknight at 6pmET, and in watching them, I’m hooked right back in. The way the show was filmed and executed was simply amazing. These days, filming videos in cars and tight quarters is extremely common. “Cash Cab” pulled this off more than a decade ago.
The re-runs likely influenced The Discovery Channel, which recently gave the “green light” to a “Cash Cab” revival sometime this year. Celebrities will be incorporated, though no specific host has been named yet.
It seems like Bailey won’t come back (he’s moved on a little bit in his career with a stand-up tour and movie podcast), but he should. And it seems like he agrees with me. On Mar. 28, he posted on Twitter:
“When you hear they might do your show without you. #WTF !?!? Retweet if you think I should host the new episodes of Cash Cab on @Discovery.” So far, 8,100 Retweets for @RealBenBailey and counting – he has more than 117,000 followers. A picture accompanies the message, with Ben driving a car looking perplexed. A taxi is seen out his window.
GSN replied to Bailey’s tweet: “We agree! #CashCab and Ben go together like burgers and fries.”
It likely wasn’t an easy show to produce, but “Cash Cab” was, and still is, a breeze to watch. Discovery does have a challenge ahead of them, similar to movie sequels and remakes: Will this new edition of a beloved game show invoke the same charm, creativity and fun as the original? Not having Bailey certainly won’t help.