Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Quiet Day Games

Began my morning with breakfast and Three for the Show. I go further into Betty Grable's last film musical, about a Broadway star who finds herself unable to decide between two husbands, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Looked over paperwork on investments PNC sent me after the movie ended, then tried to focus on writing The Wizard of Blank. Joyce wonders how Charles the Scarecrow ended up on a pole. He can't remember. It's as if part of his brain was removed or erased. 

Broke for lunch and Match Game '77, then made my grocery list and headed off to work. My first day back at work was mostly really boring. We were dead almost the entire afternoon. It's the middle of the week, the end of the month, and a beautiful sunny day to boot. 

I did help someone out mid-way through my shift. A woman in an electric scooter cart drove up to my line very upset and crying. She'd been trying to get one of my co-workers to help her find something. Apparently, she asked five times, and that got on the woman's nerves and she finally told her to get it herself. The lady had bad hips and wasn't up to it. I can understand being annoyed, but even if she was, she should have helped the lady no matter how many times she asked. I put off my break to calm the woman down and help get her groceries out to her car.

Had a little grocery shopping to do after work. I badly needed to restock yogurt. Bought two packs of low-sugar Choboni and two seasonal flavors of Dannon Light & Fit. The Candy Snaps grapes are still $1.99. Picked up the Acme's generic coconut milk, which is the cheapest brand they have. They had the regular Mountain Dew Voo Dew in, along with two unusual Coke flavors. I went with the Fanta Mystery Flavor, which was black this time for Halloween. (It was Diet Blackberry, by the way. Not bad. Tart and just enough sweet.) They also had something called Y3000, but not in zero versions.

Went straight home after that and into dinner and Match Game '76. Debralee Scott made her debut on the show here. We also have Scoey Mitchilll admiring a plump comely contestant, and surprisingly matching a bad answer on another contestant.

Match Game Syndicated is up to the week with Jon "Bowser" Bauman, Patty Duke, and Charlene Tilton of Dallas. Brett joked about Bill Daily next to Charlene drooling over her in low-cut green dress she wore in the first episode. Jon Bauman let the contestant play a tune on his toy piano. In the next episode, Gene mentioned spending 90 cents on meals at the automat during his young and wild years as a page at NBC in New York in the late 30's. 

Finished the night on YouTube after a shower with beloved game shows of the 1990's. The genre began the decade with several big shows and a couple of major revivals on the networks. Not even well-received versions of Match Game and To Tell the Truth lasted more than a year. (Match Game was the last daytime game show on ABC to date.) Game shows were considered passe, thanks to the rise of cheaper and more sensational talk shows. The word game Caesar's Challenge would be the last daytime game show on NBC in 1993. 

The situation was different on cable. They needed filler, and what better to fill up time with than game shows? Lifetime's revival of the 60's hit Supermarket Sweep swept its time slot and became one of the biggest successes of the decade. Energetic David Ruprecht of the colorful sweaters and ties asked questions about products in a grocery store to add time to a team's score. Each team ran the Big Sweep through the store at the end. The team with the highest Big Sweep score went on to figure out riddles in the Bonus Round and win $5,000. It remains one of the most popular game shows of the 90's and is still as much fun to watch now as it was 30 years ago.

No cable channel got more into game shows than Nickelodeon. The success of Double Dare in the late 80's inspired more wacky stunt-and-questions games. Nick Arcade also played on the revival of video games in the early 90's and the enormous popularity of Nintendo and Sega in the era. Kids direct a character named Mikey across themed boards. When they land on a space, they either played a real-life video game in the "video challenge," lost their space to an animated enemy, or did a "Time Bomb" spelling game when both teams landed on the same space. The winners went on to the "Video Zone," where they played video game "stunts." Goofy Phil Moore was the host.

Nickelodeon wasn't the only channel who got into the kids' games. PBS had their first successful national game show with Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? in the early 90's. Three "Acme Crime-Stoppers" join hosts Greg Lee and Lynn "The Chief" Thigpen to follow one of Carmen Sandiego's bizarre hench-people as they flee across the globe with some very strange loot. In the episode I chose from near the end of the show's run, Robo-Crook somehow manages to steal the Milky Way Galaxy. 

Game shows also continued to be popular on syndication. Even with the end of the Prime Access Rule in 1996, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! continued to bring in big ratings. Other game show franchises tried their luck in syndication, with little success. The Price Is Right had its third and final attempt at a nighttime syndicated show in 1994. Doug Davidson of The Young and the Restless hosted this half-hour version, which ended with one contestant playing The Range Game to win a Showcase package. While this version never did find an audience, the larger set and some music cues were later used on the daytime show and nighttime specials.

One the biggest hits among cable game shows was Win Ben Stein's Money on Comedy Central. The premise here was simple - stump deadpan comedian Stein and win his loot. It wasn't as easy as it sounded. As goofy as the show could be, the questions were genuinely challenging, and Jimmy Kimmel in one of his earliest appearances was clearly having a ball. This wound up being a six-year-smash and remains popular among comedy and game show fans to this day.

Game shows finally roared back in a big way on ABC with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It was already a sensation in England, and it became even more so in the US. The tension built as contestants answer increasingly difficult questions for more and more money. Several "lifelines," like calling a friend or asking for the audience's opinion, helped contestants with especially challenging questions. Unlike the quiz shows of the 50's, rapid-fire editing and space-age neon sets helped ratchet up the tension naturally. The US version was so beloved, ABC eventually expanded it to five nights a week by 2000. Regis Philbin became in demand as the host, especially with his catchphrase "is that your final answer?"

Discover the many changes among game shows in the 90's with these bits of TV history! (Look for the original commercials on Caesar's Challenge and the commercial from its current run on Game Show Network on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.) 

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