The game show–a staple of television programming since its inception–is a genre of television that is oft ignored here at NTO, not because we don’t enjoy a game show now and again, but because, to be honest, games shows are a second rate form of entertainment. Yes, they have their place, on sick days, on a rainy summer day, during long stints of unemployment or in the unfortunate event that NOTHING else is on. Still, you have to admit that it’s a little bit sad to watch John and Jane Q. Public battle it out for the chance at petty cash and prizes. Then again, they can be kind of exciting. Without further adieu, here are my Top Five Favorite Game Shows of All Time:
5. Let’s Make a Deal (1963 – 1976)
Oh god, how could you not love a game show involving a roomful of costume clad bastards whose curiosity and greed are preyed upon by host Monty Hall? Contestants are chosen from the audience and are offered the chance to “Make a Deal,” which may or may not be in their favor. Here is a bag with an undisclosed amount of cash in it, perhaps you would like to trade it for whatever might be behind curtain number 1. What might be behind curtain number 1? Oh, well it could be anything. Maybe its a car or a billiards table, but its probably a coffee can full of horse shit or if you’re lucky, some livestock, which isn’t actually a prize, but a chance for the rest of the audience to laugh and viewers at home to mock you, because your dumbass opted for two jackasses, instead of just taking the $500 producers had so lovingly placed in a shoe box for you, before taunting you with the possibility of premium goods and services hiding behind a curtain or door. What’s worse? How about the fact that you you won a can full of shit while donning Raggedy Andy costume, on national television.
4. Match Game ‘7X (1973 -1979)
Oh, man, when this show begins, I just want to tie a little ascot around my neck, pour myself a high ball and light one Benson & Hedges off another until the half hour is up. Seriously, this show is my dream come true. Forget about the actual game portion, in which two solo contestants must match as many fill-in-the-blank style questions as possible with members of the celebrity panel, because if I could be any one person, past or present, it would be “celebrity” panelist Brett Somers in the 1970’s. Personally, I cannot think of a greater way to spend the afternoon than sitting with the likes of Charles Nelson Reilly, Nipsy Russell, BETTY WHITE, Rip Taylor and host Gene Rayburn, sipping on Gin Ricky’s, chainsmoking and laughing at my own risque and sexually explicit double entendres, all the while knowing that the contestants winnings were petty in comparison to my daily salary for participating in such nonsense. What you didn’t know, is that in its peak, this show was the highest rated daytime program in history, attracting nearly 11 million viewers per day, that is, until the Luke and Laura plotline got interesting.
3. I’m Telling (1987 – 1988)
This show only lasted a single season, but it felt like longer. Not unlike The Newlywed Game it featured teams of siblings who were forced to answer zany questions about the other in his/her absence. It also featured a creepy Miami Vice meets To Catch a Predator host, awful 80’s graphics, wannabe kid actors (some of which turned out to be real celebrities, please see clip) and the shittiest final challenge in all of game show history. There were three rounds of questions, and in each, one sibling was transported (I’m not kidding, they literally had a special effect for this) backstage, while the other answered a set of questions. At the end of three rounds, the team with the most points earned a chance to play for prizes in the Pick-a-Prize Arcade, which was merely a stage with 24 toys placed next to “plungers” aka buttons affixed to lighted sirens. Each sibling was given the chance to choose which six prizes they believed their sibling would select, given the opportunity. Ten out 12 (five out of six each) prizes guessed correctly and contestants won EVERY prize on the stage. Sidenote: My sister (also a big fan of the show) and I at one time devised a FOOL PROOF plan to obtain maximum points, as well as ALL the prizes in the P-a-P Arcade, unfortunately, we were never chosen to participate.
2. Press Your Luck (1983 – 1986)
As a young child growing up in the decadent 80’s, no phrase excited me more than “No whammies! No whammies! Big bucks aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddd STOP!!” Oh, and the more vocal a contestant was in their hatred of whammies, the more I vetted for their ultimate win. I’m not sure I even know how this game works. Were there trivia questions? Who cares? Put the contestant’s face up in the center of that light up square border of monetary values, prizes and whammies and some dingy sounds that suggest we’re in a hurry, and let’s go to town! Oh, hello there guy whose face I hate, you’re about to get a whamm. . . WAAAAAHHHH–WAAAHHHHH and across the screen some horribly animated little orange characters in bizarre and pointless costumes would wander in a unintelligible skit.
1. Supermarket Sweep (1990 – 1995)
This show literally provides the most thrilling half hour of television I have ever witnessed. Some people have the Superbowl, others have March Madness, I have Supermarket Sweep. What’s more entertaining that a two person team, donning matching fat people sweatshirts with fancy little collars, answering questions to earn time to shop at warp speed in a supermarket, trying to obtain the largest quantity of groceries humanly possible? I submit that there is nothing! Oh, and yea, you think that maybe the best plan would be to extend your arm into a shelf and hurry down an aisle knocking as many items as possible into your cart, but don’t even waste your time. You are limited to only five of each item, and anything you knock onto the floor, I believe, is deducted from your total. Hence, why you need to get to the back of the store and load your cart with high ticket items like frozen turkeys, gourmet cheeses and diapers. Grind some coffee or find a “bonus” in-store display item worth a mystery amount, and it’s anyone’s game. The second greatest tragedy of my life (next to not enjoying Dallas in its prime) is that I will NEVER have the opportunity to participate in this game. Such a shame.