Game shows used to flood the dial of my TV back in the 1980s and '90s. And that was when my TV could only pick up eight channels, three depending on the weather.
Back then, almost everything from daytime fare to the occasional prime time bit of airtime starred game show hosts. Their purpose on television was solely to wear smart suits, make sure their teeth reached the optimum level of whiteness and keep the game moving but entertaining.
Now that game shows are making a slow but steady return to television, it seems the traditional role of "host" has turned away from the traditional "game" emcee like Chuck Woolery, Wink Martindale, Bob Barker and Art Fleming and more towards lively hosting personalities from other walks of entertainment life like Drew Carey, Wayne Brady, Howie Mandel and Guy Fieri. Does this mean that the role of the traditional TV game show has gone to that great big "Curtain No. 2" in the sky?
(S01E07) In my opinion, it's pretty hard to mess up a game like Family Feud. Sure, you could have a bad host like Ray Combs or Louie Anderson, but that usually doesn't deter from the game play of the families who participate on the show. So it's no surprise that Game Show Marathon chose this particular classic to be the Championship Game. That, and the fact that it could easily be played in an hour and not feel awkward like some of the other games that were played during the series.
Oh, and it certainly didn't hurt that both finalists, Kathy Najimy and Brande Roderick, had actually been on Feud in the past: Najimy back in 1981 with host Richard Dawson, and Roderick back in the late 90's with host Louie Anderson. Pretty convenient, don't you think?
(S01E06) This review was performed via IM chat, and has been edited for clarity.
Richard Keller: Good evening, everyone! And welcome to a 'very special' review of Game Show Marathon. I'm here with someone I've known for, well, most of my life. My dear brother Joel.
Joel Keller: Howdy.
Richard Keller: We're diverging from the usual review format because tonight we are going to watch an episode of GSM that features a game show that was viewed religiously in the Keller household during the 1970's. We're talking about Match Game.
JK: The previews of this show looked OK... some oddities... but I'm keeping an open mind; yet, I'm going to be really critical of this episode, considering Match Game is my all-time favorite game show. What are you expecting, Rich?
RK: Well, from looking at the previews from last week I'm not too sure. They seem to have gotten the feel of the mid-70's set down. What it will really come down to is how the celebrities play. So, without further delay, here we go.
(S01E05) Before we begin I have a correction to make. At the end of last week's post about the Press Your Luck episode of Game Show Marathon I mentioned that the version of Card Sharks they were playing this week was the Bob Eubanks hosted version that ran on CBS from 1986 until 1989 (Ironically, replacing Press Your Luck in the timeslot). However, I was wrong. After watching the introduction to tonight's show it was clearly the Jim Perry version which ran on NBC from 1978 until 1981. So, apologies all around.
Come to think of it, the original version of the show was much better than the Eubanks version. Eubanks, who hosted The Newlywed Game for several decades, made the show more personality based. And, that wasn't his fault, since he spent years trying to get newlyweds to open up about their most intimate secrets to millions of television viewers. But, adding that element to the show made the game move a bit slower. The original that was hosted by Jim Perry (who went on to host the popular $ale of the Century shortly after Card Sharks ended) was a much faster paced game. In the end, the producers over at Marathon made the right choice by going with the original.
- At 8, ABC has repeats of George Lopez, Freddie, and Lost, then a new Commander-In-Chief.
- CBS has another new Game Show Marathon at 8, followed by repeats of Criminal Minds and CSI: NY.
- NBC has two new eps of Dateline, then a repeat Law and Order.
- Over on FOX, a repeat So You Think You Can Dance at 8, followed by a new ep.
- The WB has a new Blue Collar TV at 8, then a repeat ep, then a repeat One Tree Hill.
- UPN has the movie Gang of Roses.
- At 9, the Travel Channel has a new World Poker Tour.
- More poker: Bravo has a new Celebrity Poker Showdown, with Jorge Garcia, Andrea Martin, Michael Ian Black, Kim Coles, and Greg Behrendt.
- The Sci-Fi Channel has Spooked: The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It's on at 9 too.
- Also at 9: IFC has Waking Life.
- At 10, MTV has a new The Hills, followed by a new Cheyenne.
- At 10: 30, Comedy Central has a new Dog Bites Man.
(S01E02) I'm now beginning to get a feeling that Game Show Marathon is not winning me over. It's not the games themselves; they are classics that span the generations and it's interesting to see how they are played in this type of environment. It's not Rikki Lake, either; she's really, really trying to get into the spirit of it all and I commend her for giving it a go.
No, the problem is the celebrities. Other than former Trading Spaces host Paige Davis (who is probably chipper during funerals), the other celebrities playing for their favorite charities just seem to be going through the motions to get to the semi-finals. Kathy Najimy and Leslie Nielsen are the worst; Kathy because she doesn't seem to give a s*@! about any of it, and Leslie because, frankly, I don't think he knows where he is.
Take tonight's episode, where they played the Monty Hall classic Let's Make a Deal. Other than Paige's reactions of making a pretty bad deal, the other players, including Lance Bass and Tim Meadows, all seemed dead from the neck up. Most of the contestants were playing it extremely safe, especially during the Big Deal.
And you know why? Because, other than winning money for their charities, they aren't playing for anyone else!
(S01E01) When you think of game shows that Hollywood stars play in to win money for their charities, you think of shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Family Feud. You normally don't think of a show like The Price is Right as a platform for this type of event. In fact, as TPIR afficionados Joel Keller and Bob Sassone would probably attest to, The Price is Right should only be played by college students, senior citizens, and women who fall out of their halter tops. The reason? Well, let me get to that later.
In the meantime, let me pontificate a bit on the premiere of CBS's Game Show Marathon. I found it to be an interesting experiment. Here's how it works: six celebrities compete in a series of classic game shows to win one million dollars for their charity. Four semi-finalists are selected, then they play until two remain. The two finalists appear with their families on an episode of Family Feud (complete with classic sets) to vie for the million dollars.
I wouldn't have picked Rikki Lake as the host of the program, but she did show a lot of spirit in hosting The Price is Right episode of the show. Heck, many people have tried but failed to match the success that Bob Barker has had for over 30 years as TPIR's host. Hopefully she'll loosen up a bit more as the show progresses. I have a feeling she'll do a bit better in the Let's Make a Deal segment, which airs on Thursday.
I also wouldn't have chosen TPIR as the game to start the series with, despite is popularity and long network run. If you'd like to know the reason jump ahead by clicking the link.
Back in the 1980s, two classic game shows, Match Game and Hollywood Squares, were combined into a one-hour show. The result was extremely underwhelming to audiences back then. Now, over 20 years later, they're trying this concept again... with seven game shows combined into one. Don't network executives ever learn?
Actually, this one looks to be a bit more interesting than The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (catchy, ain't it?). It's called Game Show Marathon and it's premiering on CBS tonight. Hosted by veteran talk show maven Rikki Lake, Marathon combines seven classic game shows into one program: The Price Is Right, Beat the Clock, Card Sharks, Let's Make a Deal, Press Your Luck, Family Feud, and Match Game. Other than Deal, all of the other game shows have aired or are currently airing on CBS at one time or another.
Starting with The Price is Right, the show will pit six celebrity players against each other, who will attempt to win cash and prizes for home viewers. Game Show Marathon will continue to run twice-weekly until July, when it will settle into its Thursday night slot. TVgameshows.net profiles the game show and interviews Rikki Lake about the challenges of hosting seven different game shows at one time in a three-week period.
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