Sunday, September 05, 2021

Games In the Rain

Woke up with barely enough time to finish Donna Parker: Mystery at Arawak, write in my journal, scarf down breakfast, and get dressed. I just began to put on my shoes when my cell phone jangled. Yes, Rose arrived, with Finley chattering in her child seat behind her. Even with me dashing out three minutes late, I still got to work in more than enough time.

Work was on-and-off steady the entire afternoon. It didn't really get that bad until later, when clouds rolled in and most people came out of church and off the beach to buy food for barbecues and lunch boxes. There were no really major problems. Despite it picking up by 4, I managed to get off without a relief.

Ended up walking home. The rain started by then, but it was a light shower that didn't do much more than make me damp. I figured it would be busy everywhere and strolled down the back roads, avoiding West Clinton. At least all of the trees and gardens are busting with color and sweet smells, thanks to the buckets of precipitation we've had. 

Went straight into a snack and Buzzr's Whew! marathon when I got home. Buzzr's ads are right that this is "a hard word to say, but a fun game to play." It's definitely a fun game to watch. Two contestants answer a statement with a blooper on a huge playing board. If they can fix the blooper, they move to the next level. The other contestant plants "blocks" that steal time and keep them from reaching the top. If  the "charger" is running out of time, they can call a long shot and move straight to the top. Fast-moving host Tom Kennedy brings a lot of energy to the proceedings.

The bonus round is "the Gauntlet." Ten "villain" figures keep the contestant from moving. If the contestant can fix blooper statements, the villain will let them pass. If not, they answer bloopers until they get it. The woman who won almost all of the episodes I saw got the actual games by the skin of her teeth, but just couldn't seem to figure out the bonus round. 

I can understand why this didn't do well in 1979. It's very complicated and absolutely nothing like any game show I've ever seen...which is what makes it so fun nowadays. No wonder Buzzr wanted to air it. It's one of those things that sounds strange on a blog, but is a blast when you actually watch it.

Worked on writing between shows. The Mock Turtle laments that he's too stiff to teach Brett and her boys some of the more complicated "writhing" and "reeling" dances. He can show them the Lobster Quadrille, with the help of Duchess Marcia and Bill the White Rabbit.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers as Whew! ended and The Roku Channel stream went into two Family Feud episodes from I believe the early 80's. I wish Buzzr would get over themselves about Richard Dawson kissing ladies and run this and the Ray Combs version more often! Richard's wonderfully charming leading two families through a series of survey questions. No wonder he was such a hit on the show.

Continued with more flop game shows on YouTube after my shower. One of the earliest failed game shows is also one of the most unique. Armchair Detectives from 1949 has the host and a criminal expert call on audience members to solve the mystery in a ten-minute playlet. Too bad the only existing episode is the one on YouTube. I've never seen a game show played like Clue, with people trying to gather evidence to win. 

Dick Enberg hosts 3 for the Money, a really fun game from 1975. Two teams consisting of two contestants and a celebrity captain play an all week tournament. They choose a subject, then guess a person, place, or thing based on clues. A "Catch Up Round" after the first two rounds is played the same way without the category. The Bonus Round had the winning team guessing a subject revealed one letter at a time. Barbara Feldon of Get Smart and game show host Jim McKrell are the celebrity captains here. Too bad there's not much left of this one, either. I really enjoyed it and wish it lasted longer. It was fun to play along, and Feldon and McKrell look like they had a great time.

Country star Bill Anderson and Real People hostess Sarah Purcell are the unlikely and mismatched hosts of The Better Sex from 1977. Teams of men and women ask each other questions, hoping to knock the other team out of the game. The winners then ask 30 audience members of the opposite gender questions until either they or the team are knocked out. Sarah's ladies were the big winners here, though they couldn't quite get the audience down. Sarah seemed to be a bit bored, but Bill was as charming here as he is when he's a panelist on Match Game

Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour did several theme weeks in an attempt to drum up viewers. The first of these brought together the surviving cast members of the 50's sitcom Leave It to Beaver (and then-popular prop comedian Gallagher). It's a hoot watching Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsly, and Match Game veteran Richard Deacon answer naughty questions and give bluffs to contestants. 

The Challengers is a far more serious trivia game from 1990. Based after the late 60's hit The Who What and Where Game, it's here been reworked into a clear imitation of the syndicated Jeopardy!, right down to gambling on Daily Doubles. The difference is in the bonus round is one question from the winning contestant for $10,000. (Evidently, this was eliminated later in the run.) Dick Clark tries to bring some interest to the proceedings. 

Trump Card is the only game show I know of to have been filmed in Atlantic City - in this case, at what was then known as Trump Castle and is now the Golden Nugget in the Marina District. Kind of the same deal as The Challengers, but in this case, contestants have to fill a bingo board answering trivia. Jimmy Cefalo was not the host to add excitement to all this, and indeed, he comes off as a bit too goofy. (Apparently, it was based after the British game show Bob's Full House, which went over much better and ran five years longer.)

If you enjoyed Whew!, here's even more truly unique game show flops! (Look for commercials on The Challengers...and a strange tape on Trump Card that includes half of a second episode.)

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