Dax Shepard has wowed us in dramas, like Parenthood, and in comedies, like Chips (despite not being all that funny, Chips is still classified as a comedy). Now the actor with a classic Hollywood look is taking the perfect gig for actors with classic Hollywood looks: game show host.
Spin The Wheel debuts tonight (9pm ET on FOX), and has all the classic elements: trivia, chance, suspense and, of course, a hot host (the aforementioned Dax). Despite more than a decade sober, he was cool enough to hang with The Cocktail for a discussion of the show, his perfect contestant, and his abilities to defeat the host of a rival wheel-themed show.
Big Wheel Keep On Turning
“So the wheel is prepostuously large.” If you’re gonna talk about this show, you must talk about the wheel. Even though he’s been working with it for weeks, Dax says he’s still somewhat in awe of it. “It’s four stories tall, it weighs thirty tons or something. The first round it lands on an amount of money and the people answer pop trivia questions.”
But what makes this stand out is it’s not just about what you know, you’re family’s gotta be on their game as well. “In the second round you get one of their siblings involved and they can dramatically alter the game, which is awesome drama because who wants their brother sister in charge of that?” Not me! I love my sib but when it comes to my life, I’m not putting him in charge of anything more than choosing where we go for lunch.
And the stakes only get higher from there. If they survive the sibling round, Dax says that’s when things get really real. “It all builds up to this fourth round where they start putting money on the board. They end up building a wheel for the last round that will be very advantageous, odds-wise, or it will be a minefield.”
I wanted to know just how specific my pop culture needed to be. Like, should I know the exact date of Lindsay Lohan’s second arrest? “It wouldin’t hurt you to know that.” If you don’t know, that’s okay. Dax probably doesn’t know either. “I know none of the questions if that helps. For anyone who feels guilty that they’re behind the times, everytime I’m reading a question I’m like I have no idea. Maybe I’d have a 50% chance at this.”
That’s weird, since Dax and his wife, the lovely Kristen Bell, are an A-List power couple who live at the center of pop culture. Turns out, they’re homebodies. “I do, but I don’t leave my house much. I tend to binge shows. So I miss a lot more than you might think.”
Tonight’s premiere episode will feature a very, very high-spirited contestant, which plays right into Dax’s sweetspot as a human and a host. “He just had all kinds of confidence and sass and I loved it. That’s my ideal contestant.”
Overenthusiastic game show contestants are a dime a dozen. Let’s face it, overenthusiasm is a basic requirement. But Dax told me this guy has a story that makes you want to root for him. “(He was) driving down the road, saw a derailed train, got out of his car, crawled through four train cars and rescued people. This is what kind of young man he is.”
Keeping It Wheel
When it comes to wheel-based game shows, Spin The Wheel is the new kid on the block. Wheel of Fortune has been around forever, but is ripe for a takedown. I wanted to know if Dax think he could take down Pat Sajak in a one-on-one cage match. “I think so, which is not a huge feather in my cap. I think I’m much, much bigger than Pat, and I’m a bit younger, a few days younger.”
Turns out, he’d rather fight him in the ratings, not the octagon. “Nor would I ever wanna fight Pat.” Dax says it would be like fighting your childhood hero. “I loved him. I loved Wheel of Fortune when I was growing up. I loved looking at all the prizes. It was the first time I became aware of a big screen TV or an injection mold hot tub. These are all things I learned about on Wheel of Fortune.”
Not A Belieber
Another cage match could actually happen. Despite saying he was just joking, there’s a good chance Justin Bieber will end up in the octagon with Tom Cruise. Dax said what we’re all thinking: “No!!! Come on! I find that impossible to believe. Really?!?”
So I had to ask: who ya got? Based on Cruise’s history of learning the skills his characters possess (he learned to fly a helicopter for a Mission Impossible film), Dax says he’s team Tom. “Do you remember that movie he was in where he came to America, he was an Irish immigrant? I forget the name of it (it was Far and Away) but he played a boxer in it. And knowing Tom Cruise he probably learned to box proficiently.”
I gotta agree with my boy Dax. I’m putting $100 on Cruise at 25-1 to knockout the Biebs in 3 rounds.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A trivia version of Beer Pong. Watch the show with your BDFF (Best Drinking Friend Forever). When you answer a question right, they drink. If you’re wrong, you drink. No need to spin a wheel, you’ll feel like your spinning by the end of the game!