Sunday, May 22, 2022

Games of the Great White North

Began a nice, quiet morning with a quick breakfast. Though it remained hot, it wasn't quite as bad as yesterday. A strong breeze helped, too. I actually had a rather pleasant ride to work. No traffic anywhere, no one around. Everyone was probably at church, sleeping in, or at the Shore.

This extended to work, too. The Acme is normally busy on Sundays, but today, we never got more than mildly steady during the noon rush hour. Once again, most people either hid inside from the heat, are at the Shore, or are waiting for Memorial Day Weekend or the beginning of the month to do their big shopping. I actually spent a lot of the afternoon shelving loose items. Got in and out with no trouble whatsoever. 

Even Nicholson Road wasn't busy when I rode home. No one around the shopping center entrance or the Hispanic church. No one on Atlantic. Not even much traffic on the White Horse Pike. Too bad. They were missing a gorgeous day. Hot, yes, but also breezy, with a searing blue sky. Everything is so green now. The leaves are nearly at their full lengths. Gardens are thick with sweet-smelling roses and spicy purple irises. 

Went straight upstairs after I got home, changed, and did research on what jobs I could do. Truth of the matter is, I'm not sure. This is where I have trouble. I look up jobs, see that they require multi-tasking or more experience than I have, and I don't end up doing anything. Honestly, I wonder if I could write for a living...but if I can't, what job can I do? I really have no clue. 

Broke for a very quick dinner at 6:30, then went straight into game shows on YouTube. Talk About, which will be debuting on Buzzr Memorial Day, was a Canadian-made show, so I decided to investigate more game shows from our neighbors to the north. Talk About was a slightly bigger hit there than here, running two years and spawning a nighttime version with celebrities helping out players. Since it doesn't look like the celebrity version will be shown in the US as of this second, I went with an episode featuring game show hosts Marc Summers and Geoff Edwards helping the contestants figure out how words related to certain topics.

Talk About is far from the only Canadian game show to involve words and word association. Two of the most popular game shows in Canadian TV history were word games. Jim Perry oversaw Definition from 1972 to 1989 and remains one of the longest-running daytime shows in North America. Basically, it's "Hangman with puns." Perry reads a punny clue, and the contestants have to call for letters to guess the answer. No wonder this ran for so long. It's cute, funny, and very addictive. 

Perry was also in charge of Headline Hunters, which was on CTV from 1972 to 1983. Here, contestants had to guess an event or person in the news from a series of clues. Just learning about Canadian and American history from the early 80's was fascinating, given I was very young when this episode first ran. 

The Canucks seem to have a true nose for game shows about news. Front News Challenge ran so long, it was on CBC Television from 1957 to 1995! Basically a cross between Headline Hunters and I've Got a Secret. A panel of celebrity writers and journalists interview a guest to figure out what they're known for or what their achievements are. In the 60's and 70's, the show was apparently able to get a wide range of guests from around the globe; in this episode, they talk to Eleanor Roosevelt.

They continued to do history-based quizzes on cable into the 90's. TimeChase was on the Canadian version of The History Channel and was basically a history quiz. Contestants choose a decade and answer questions related to events in that decade. It's actually a lot more fun than it sounds, especially if you're a history buff like me. Dignified Sheldon Turncott was the host here. 

MuchMusic was the Canadian equivalent of MTV, and apparently followed a similar trajectory to its American counterpart (including eventually dropping most of its musical programming). Also like MTV, it debuted wacky game shows in the late 80's. Test Pattern mixed pop culture and music trivia with wacky, messy stunts, making it something like a wild fusion of Remote Control and Double Dare

Food For Thought was a late 80's blending of several food and shopping-related games. Host Don Ritchie asked a series of food-related quiz questions, then did their own version of hangman. Unlike Supermarket Sweep, instead of running around willy-nilly to see who can get the most, contestants have to figure out how to get a certain price limit in a certain amount of time. The food isn't priced, and everyone has to figure out what the prices would be, and if it would be under the limit.

Of course, not every game show reached the heights of Definition or Front News Challenge, even in Canada. They had their fair share of flops as well, such as Pitfall from 1981. Alex Trebek hosted this odd show that had contestants trying to predict how the other contestant and the audience would answer certain questions. Winner went on to the Pitfalls themselves, a moving bridge that could be lowered in sections if the contestant missed a question. Even the pitfalls couldn't make the survey questions in the first half exciting. Not to mention, that mechanical set cost so much, the company that made the show went bankrupt. Trebek and many of the contestants and staff were never paid or given their prizes. 

Take a trip to Canada to visit the wonders of definitions, wild stunts, and nutty pitfalls! (Look for the commercials on may of these, a second bonus Definition episode on the same post, and an interview with Trebek about being stiffed for his paycheck on Pitfall. And thanks to Wink Martindale and his channel for the Pitfall episode and interview!)

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