5. Family Feud (1976 – Present)
An offshoot of the popular Beal-favored game show Match Game, Family Feud (aka “THE FEUD”) has been appeared on and off since 1976 and I know I’m not alone in silently hoping that it lives forever. Two families pitted against each other and then the audience for the most popular answers to inane questions such as “The vegetable most often purchased at the supermarket.” Clearly, we’re not answering questions about Melville or anything but seeing family members shove, cajole and mock each other is good enough television for me. Although many remember the show when it was hosted by Richard Dawson, I for one find his overt affection for female guests entirely too creepy to make it through an episode and, anyway, Ray Combs helmed the show during my formative years. It’s his supremely ’80s / Joey Gladstone coif that appears in my mind whenever I think of sick days spent on the couch, watching THE FEUD.
4. Double Dare (1986 – 1993)
Well, hello there. Welcome to another solid chunk of my formative years and the most fantastical kids game show in the history of all mankind (it’s true, look it up. It’s right next to “the Walkman and Tab.“) Is there anything better than watching kids make a huge mess, get into food fights, slamming pies into each other’s faces and going down slides into a giant salad bowls all while Marc Summers calmly walks you through how it’s all going to work? Marc Summers should really just narrate everything, including the audio book for my personal memoir Snick and Me (and he hasn’t changed at ALL since 1993. Does anyone else find that strange? Is he taking magic dragon pills or something?)
3. Tunnels’ Thanks to Everyone (Japan- 2006)
I don’t know what this show title means. I don’t know if this show is still on the air. I don’t know what kind of genius came up with the famous Brain Wall (Human Tetris) component but all I can say is, “God bless the Japanese.” I’m personally not a big fan of their food or their cars but SWEET SASSY MOLASSY this country can produce a game show (my other favorite is the one where the two people dress in black robes and then there’s a strobe light and plates of spaghetti and- oh, hell. I don’t even think I can explain it but it’s AMAZING). So basically, these guys dress up in spandex and helmets and then a wall comes at them with a cut-out and they have to fit through the cut-out or they get shoved into a pool of neon-colored water. That’s basically it. Like you need more than that?
2. Jeopardy! (1964 – Present)
And now something for that slight percentage of the American public who actually enjoys things like reading and knowledge. The rest of us like to watch Jeopardy! because answering even one question correctly makes us feel like a genius while the rest of the show makes us wonder what went so wrong with our own education. On top of that, the show has to turn the Q&A format on its head, providing contestants with the answer and forcing them to come up with the questions. In other words “The smartest game show of all time.” What is Jeopardy!, Alex? One thing’s for sure- it absolutely beats the “I feel dead inside” affect of watching shows like “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” and “Deal or No Deal.”
Also, it’s impossible to say the words “Alex Trebek” without the words “NATIONAL TREASURE” attached to them. Or maybe the national treasure part is reserved for the mustache, which is sadly lacking in this clip but you should watch it anyway because it’s pretty funny.
1. The Price is Right (1956 – Present)
One of my regrets from my time in Los Angeles was never going to see The Price is Right. Bob Barker was still at the helm and, as much as I would’ve loved it, the idea of spending an ENTIRE day waiting for the show seemed not to be worth it at the time. But that’s actually the beauty of The Price is Right. My friend Katie, who went once, told me that the whole waiting-around aspect of the show is actually what makes the audience so insanely wired during the taping. She said, “You’re stuck seeing the same group of people for hours and hours. And you finally get in and you finally get to see the show and that lady who’s been behind you on line since 4am gets called down and EVERYONE goes crazy.” And it’s true that The Price is Right audience is the most crazed, berserk audience on television. They scream, they holler, they lose their minds when they get the famous call to “COME ON DOWN!” Grandmothers, college kids, hippies, straight-laced Dads all go nuts on The Price is Right. It’s like watching an experiment on sleep deprivation all with the added of bonus of getting to scream the price of milk at your television set. And really, isn’t that what TV is all about?