“Big money! Big money! Big money!” It’s the unmistakable cry of the game show contestant. On “The Wall,” a show where balls bounce down a four-story pegged wall toward slots labeled with dollar values, the money really is big. One slot is worth a million dollars. The central idea is that contestants are putting faith in their partner’s risk taking strategy, as one person in isolation has to make a final decision whether to accept a payout that could be significantly less than what the other person has actually secured.

If you believe host Chris Hardwick, this show is a relationship story. You’re betting on each other, he likes to say. But like a lot of game shows where money choices are involved, the contestants are really betting on their greed. And in the case of this entertaining show (and a nod to all you Gordon Gekko “Wall Street” fans out there): Greed is good.

The game begins with enthusiastic couples, answering questions together. A correct answer turns the balls green and they tumble down. Very quickly, the money adds up. But a wrong answer turns the balls red and the values they land in are subtracted. The balance from this round is safe.

One person is then isolated while their partner remains on stage. With only the answers as clues, the partner on stage has to bet on the isolated partner’s ability to answer the soon to be revealed question, assigning the balls to the wall’s numbered slots according to how confident he or she is in the partner’s knowledge. Choose to place the balls to the right and there is a higher probability of them reaching the larger money values. Place them on the left and it’s a safer, lower money bet. Of course, if the balls turn red, the riskier bet could also mean losing more.

And most people take the riskier bet because playing it safe is practically un-American. It’s the play-hard-or-go-home-we’re-in-it-to-win-it-no-regrets code of the game show warrior. It’s also an adrenaline-fueled frenzy of emotions that’s funny to watch. Contestants literally try to will the balls to change direction with their screams, demands and bodily contortions. They pick up Chris Hardwick and twirl him around. At the end of all the madness, the isolated person, who has no idea what his or her partner has won or lost, must choose to either sign a contract or rip it up. Sign it to win the money from the earlier round. Disregard it and take home the unknown dollar amount, which could be zero.

Spoiler alert: People rip up the contracts with very few exceptions. Despite the show’s sweet narrative sales pitch, (Executive producer LeBron James says: “We’re going to give real people an opportunity to live out their dreams”), it’s not about changing lives or the contestants believing in their partners, themselves, or sending family members on a nice vacation. It’s about the promise of more. One more chance to make one more dollar. And who can resist that?

“The Wall” is on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EDT on NBC.

— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.