Who doesn’t love to play games? Everybody loves to play games. Watching other people play them on TV can be a lot of fun too. For this week’s Roundtable, let’s discuss our favorite TV game shows.
This week’s Roundtable topic is so dumb! (Audience: HOW DUMB IS IT?!) It’s so dumb that instead of sending my editor my submission, I sent him my ______ .
That’s right, when it comes to game shows, nothing beats ‘Match Game‘. It played on TV in several different iterations over the years, but the best was the mid-1970s version on CBS, with Gene Rayburn as host and celebrities Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers as permanent panelists on the show. For those not aware of the rules, the show would basically ask contestants “Fill in the Blank” questions like the above and whoever matched the most answers from the panel over several rounds would win the game and get to the bonus round for a chance at a cash prize.
The fun of ‘Match Game’ was all about the celebrity guests, who would often give hilarious (and more often than not, sexually charged) answers to the questions Rayburn posed. Reilly and Somers were so good together that many at home actually thought they were a couple in real life. (That’s funny in retrospect, as most of us now know of Reilly’s sexual orientation, which of course was a taboo TV topic back in the ’70s). Like many game shows of that era, ‘Match Game’ was more about the guest stars than the game itself, and even 40 years later, the show is still as funny as ______.
As much as I love trivia knowledge and games of chance, the 1980s-’90s ‘American Gladiators‘ easily crushes the game show competition much like a real-life version of ‘The Running Man’ movie. The concept was a perfect David versus Goliath format, with events like Joust and Powerball seeing contestants out-sized, while Assault and the Eliminator suited the wiry visitors.
Assault was my favorite because it could be won by either shooting the gladiator with one of the many varied Nerf-style weapons or by making it across the arena without taking a hit from the tennis ball canon. Atlasphere may be the show’s most iconic event, but wow did it seem hard to get points. The excess and steroid culture of the era helped make the show sizzle, but it was also bolstered by a certain gravity that came not from the meager prize money or distinct notes about the contestants, but from the presentation and commitment from those playing.
Some may argue that it’s a Reality show, but filled with challenges and wit – something Reality shows don’t often possess – I consider ‘Survivor‘ a game show. Not only is it fun to watch the contestants go head-to-head with taxing physical and mental obstacles, but I find myself playing along and asking myself, “How would I approach this challenge?” and “Could I do it any better?” If you catch the season from the beginning, it’s fun to pick a player that you predict will win and see the season play out. I like picking alliances too and guessing who will be the best and who will betray. I refuse to watch Reality TV, but I love ‘Survivor’.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I wouldn’t consider Nickelodeon’s ‘Make the Grade‘ to be my favorite TV game show, but it’s the only one I’ve ever been a contestant on, so I guess it’s worth a mention anyway. Just try to beat that, Other Roundtable People! (I came in last place, though, so 11-year-old Adam isn’t too much of a force to be reckoned with.)
When I sent out this topic, I felt certain that nobody else would remember ‘Match Game’. Mrs. Z and I got addicted to watching reruns of that on the Game Show Network.
Since Shannon beat me to that, I’ll try to go highbrow here and pick America’s classic answers-and-questions game, ‘Jeopardy!‘. It makes me feel smart to watch it, even if I can’t get a tenth of the answers correct on my own (or, let’s be honest, usually a twentieth). What really makes the show is Alex Trebek’s air of condescension whenever a contestant gets an answer wrong – as if he just can’t believe they didn’t know that the capital of Papua New Guinea is Port Moresby. (Yes, I had to look that up, just like the show’s writers do before they hand Trebek all the answers.) I can’t imagine anyone else taking over if he ever retires. That’ll have to be the end of the show.
What are your favorite TV game shows? Tell us in the Comments.