Growing up and then right through adulthood I was like millions of others, I loved the TV game shows and still do. From the earliest days of black and white TV and shows like Pantomime Quiz, Beat the Clock to the hits of the 60’s like Match Game, Press Your Luck and Password. Then it was on to shows like the $100,000 Pyramid and Classic Concentration. Of course, there are the long running staples, Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! that have kept this carnival of games shows going for over seventy years. It’s like walking down the midway of television history with all of these game shows and the myriad of unforgettable hosts. They include names like Bud Collyer, Garry Moore, Bill Cullen, Tom Kennedy, Allen Ludden, Bob Barker, Gene Rayburn, Peter Marshall, Pat Sajak, Alex Trebeck and so many more.
In the last few years there has been an attempt, mostly successful, to bring back some of those old shows with new hosts like Elizabeth Banks with Press Your Luck, Michael Strahan with the $100,000 Pyramid, Alec Baldwin and Match Game (prior to his gun problems) and a few others. They didn’t try to jazz it up, give it a much different look and pretty much kept to the original format. It has been a pleasure to see these shows brought back and it looks like those I mentioned will continue to be in production for the new season beginning in September.
That all being said, NBC has just brought back a new version of one of TV’s truly classic game shows. It has a new look, a new format, a host I was not familiar with at all and except for a few things from the original show that made it one of the most revered games shows in TV history, I was totally prepared to rip it up one side and down the other. I am talking about Password first and foremost with Allen Ludden and then Bert Convy. All I can say after watching the premiere episode and the follow up episode is that it is better than I thought it would be. I am not impressed with the host Keke Palmer or the over the top actions of Jimmy Fallon and the guy who gives the clue to the TV audience who is just plain creepy. I do like the new format for the words to guess and the addition of a “Redemption Round”. Apparently, Fallon, who is also Executive Producer, will be a permanent celebrity panelist on the show. Of course, the cash prize, $25,000, is much bigger than in the earlier days and with the new format it is fun watching them go for the big money. All in all I give it a B+ only because I am not sold on the host or Fallon being a permanent panelist. So, give a look and see what you think.
With all the useless fluff on network TV today, it’s good to see some of the old games shows returning and bringing some much needed humor and excitement our way. As for Match Game, word is they are looking for a suitable host to replace Baldwin so they can bring that back. Of course, the biggest news in “game show world” is that Jeopardy! finally decided on the permanent hosts and it was really no surprise. When the new season begins in September Jeopardy! will be hosted by both Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik. In other game show news, no word yet whether the revamped To Tell the Truth with Anthony Anderson will return and the same for Card Sharks with Joel McHale. One show I would like to see brought back is another Alex Trebeck gem, Classic Concentration. Hopefully one day that will reappear.
If you are a game show lover like me, we can get our fix with these new versions of past great shows. But if you still like seeing the old originals, as I do, you can always tune into the “Buzzr” cable channel that carries just about every game show you can think of. Have great day and week ahead everyone. The password is “enjoy”!
Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor NightMoves Magazine and AAN