The beloved game show Card Sharks returns Sunday night with not just an all-new episode hosted by the very funny Joel McHale, but a brand new timeslot at 9 p.m. ET on ABC — ahead of The Rookie at 10 p.m. ET. The second season of the suspenseful game where a fortune can be won on the turn of a single playing card sees host McHale holding all the aces as he is joined by contestants, Cassie Wada of Washington and Divji Vaswani of California.
In an exclusive preview ahead of Sunday's 2021 premiere seeing two players on their road to glory and in a face-off elimination, McHale surveys the pair asking how many out of 100 people have used a Groupon or coupon on a first date. With Vaswani's turn to answer, the contestant's response surprises not just the audience but card turners, Jerry Wolf and Alexis Gaube.
The network series based on the 1978 game was shot with a minimal crew and no audience per COVID-19 restrictions put in place by producer Fremantle. Placing rigorous health and safety protocols while adhering to state and local requirements, McHale told PopCulture.com last October that the shoot didn't go without its fair share of scares.
"I think we were one of the first shows — at least going — that had all the zones where people were not allowed in certain zones. Some of the producers, I never even saw them while we were shooting because they were in their zone. It turned out to be a false positive, or it was really more inconclusive than false positive — but at that time, it was enough to scare people," McHale said in our series, PopCulture @ Home. "And so, that whole section was removed, and they dealt with that, and they brought in the next squad to take over, and there was probably a four-hour delay."
The "apex extrovert" who also serves as producer of the series, explained how the reincarnation is unlike its predecessors, mostly because of its comedic elements. "I think there's a lot more comedy — like, in the old ones, they are flying through the games, and they just do game after game after game after game. And the money we're giving away is much bigger," he said, adding how the personal touch of interaction between host and contestants similar to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? showcases a different approach.
"You interact with them, going like, 'What would $350,000 do for you?' And they're like, 'I could buy a house and a car and another house.' So, the stakes are higher, so we see the emotion that they're going through. It doesn't mean the game has really slowed down; it's just with the stakes being higher, you want to take your time a little bit because you don't want to just go, 'All right, you won $350,000. Thanks for coming. We'll see you later.' We draw out the tension a bit."
Card Sharks airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, check your local listings. For more on Joel, all your favorite stars and game shows, stay tuned for the latest on PopCulture.com!