Monday, April 10, 2023

Memories of Games

Began the morning with breakfast and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. "Mickey-Go-Seek" has Mickey playing a game of hide-and-seek with Donald...but Don is very good at hiding! While he tries to find Donald, he helps the other Clubhouse members find their lost things.

Did some job-hunting after that, then worked on writing. Richard insists that they'll find that cattle. They have one of the Wild Rider Gang in custody. Brett wants to question him - and shoot him - herself, but Richard points out that shooting him won't do anything, and that's police work.

Broke at noon to take down the Easter decorations. Watched Match Game '77 as I worked. Buzzr skipped way, way ahead to the week with Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton and Broadway legend Ethel Merman. Brett kept annoying Brett that week doing imitations of her, which she got fed up with. Too bad, as she played very well. Sutton showed all the charm that would lead him to being the long-time announcer for the Braves years later. 

Headed off to work after a quick lunch. It was only busy during rush hour, when we had long lines. Before that and after that, we were dead. Many families may be on vacation for spring break, and it was just flat-out too nice to be shopping. The weather remains gorgeous, sunny and breezy and in the mid-60's. It was so quiet by 5:30, I left with no relief and no need for one.

Had an early birthday present waiting for me when I got home. With Kit's re-release, the time was right to finally break down and buy the dolls a few outfits directly from American Girl. Melody's Doo Wop Dress-Up Outfit may be something a 10 year old would play pretend in...but for 16-year-old Barbara Jean, it's her prom gown and wrap, which she proudly ordered from the hippest shop in the Cherry Hill Mall. Kit's Birthday Dress is the only outfit of hers AG re-released that I didn't either buy when it was out originally or pick up on eBay. There's a few Maryellen outfits I want for Whitney, but her Back to School Outfit was listed as "limited quantities" and wasn't a bad price for the pieces you get. Plus, those bow-trimmed red shoes are just so darn cute! 

Watched Buzzr's Spring Break college-themed marathon as I opened the boxes, took the laundry downstairs, and got organized. Sale of the Century did a second Pep Rally Week late in its run. I came in as Jim Perry encouraged a girl to buy a trip to Lake Tahoe, despite her having a cabin there. She came up neck-and-neck with one of the boys. The boy won in a tie, but he didn't have as much luck with the Bonus Round.

Ray Combs donned black professorial robes for College Week on the late 80's Family Feud. California rivals UCLA and USC played each other in a fierce, noisy, and rather goofy battle. They even brought cheerleaders along for pep talks. In the end, UCLA got the win and went on to the Fast Money.

Match Game Syndicated was almost as randy. Brett and Charles spent the episodes sniping at each other for stealing answers. Patty Duke was on a roll with good answers and her idea of a tough-guy accent. In the second episode, Gene and Bill Daily got so into their little song and dance routine, Gene forgot what the question was!

Finished the night on YouTube with game shows I loved watching as a child after I put the laundry in the dryer. The Combs Family Feud debuted in 1988, just in time to help me through a really rough patch in my life. I loved watching the animated Combs and all the families and their often-strange answers. 

I used to spend entire afternoons watching game shows on USA Network. They re-ran older shows long before Game Show Network debuted, along with syndicated shows and ones from Canada. Host Jim Lange figured into two favorites. Bullseye was an early-80's clone of The Joker's Wild, with a circular spinning board instead of a slot machine-themed one. Lange did better by Name That Tune. It was awesome to try to guess "The Golden Medley" and see if someone could really name a song in one note. Tic Tac Dough is my favorite pure trivia show after Jeopardy! It was fun to guess along with the contestants and watch them rack up big bucks...if they could avoid that scary roaring dragon!

Of course, I also watched game shows intended for kids. PBS ventured into children's game shows with Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? from the early 90's. The Chief (Lynne Thigpen) and host Greg Lee left clues for three "Acme Agents" (contestants) as to the whereabouts of Carmen Sandiego's hench-person, who just stole some unlikely landmark. In the episode I watched, Robo-Crook somehow managed to walk off with The Gateway Arch from St. Louis. 

One of the first shows to premiere on The Disney Channel when it debuted in 1983 was its kids' game show, Contraption. Host Ralph Harris would show kids clips from Disney films centered around certain themes, like "Heroes and Villains," "Magic," and "Animals." Whomever answered them correctly would earn big yellow "Contract-tiles." They could earn even more during races involving small pedal-powered "magic carpets" and "jungle boats" and the hamster "wheel of fire." The final round at "Magic" earned five tiles each. The winners have the most Contract-tiles at the end and get the grand prize, usually a trip. 

I'm actually surprised Disney never remade with this with updated clips and vehicles or tried anything like it again. It ran for six years and is still a lot of fun to watch. Like most of The Disney Channel's early programming, it's hard to find today. Only four episodes are easily available online, including the three strung together here. 

Fun House was one of the many Double Dare clones in the late 80's and early 90's. Animated and very cute JD Roth led the kids through a series of messy stunts between trivia questions. It's the bonus round where  this one stands out. The kids run through the titular "fun house," filled with ball pits, long spiral staircases, shower mazes, and the announcer Tiny squirting them with seltzer. They have 2 minutes to bring back three tags with a prize or a cash rewards. The faster the kids go, the more they can get. I always kind of liked the open-ended "Fun House," where all but the slowest kids walk out with at least one good prize or some cash, better than the difficult and rarely-won Obstacle Course on Double Dare.

Nickelodeon put out its own Double Dare imitations. Finders Keepers was their cross between Double Dare, Fun House, and the older adult game show Camouflage. Two teams of kids search a board for the answer to a clue in a busy picture. They then have to find the physical clue in the room of a messy house. The winners get to follow clues that will allow them to search the whole house. Wesley Eure was the host when I still watched the show. We used to love looking for the clues, then watching the kids ransack that great house!

(Incidentally, research reveals that Finders Keepers and Fun House went over better in England, with the latter running a decade and being very fondly remembered by British kids who grew up in the 90's.) 

Hope these shows rekindle as many fond memories for you as they did for me!

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