When I was growing up, game shows used to rule weekday morning television. I could watch game shows from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. Now boring talk shows and courtroom programs clog the channels during this time. Groan!
In the spirit of the great game shows of the past, I offer to you my 10 favorite game shows of all time. Of note, a game show is not a reality show. Programs like “Survivor” are not included.
10) Name that Tune: Hosted by a variety of people, this show challenged contestants to name a song based on a few notes. “Bid-a-note” was the most famous aspect of the show, and I often laughed when a contestant claimed he could name that tune in zero notes(although occasionally some did, figuring out the tune only by the clue offered from the host).
9) Let’s Make a Deal: Contestants wore costumes and occasionally traded for sucky prizes, known as “zonks”. I loved to watch this show since people were inevitably stupid and greedy and often traded something of reasonable value for what was behind door number 2, ending up with something unwanted like a turtle or a rusty wheelbarrow.
8) Wheel of Fortune: Platform for no-talent Vanna White, this show has remained popular for a very long time. I used to watch it when the original host, Chuck Woolery, presided over the game, and I thought he was quite good. Pat Sajak is definitely wittier, and the prizes are much more interesting now than the Tiffany gift certificate.
7) Concentration and Classic Concentration: This matching game challenged contestants to match identical squares on a board. With each match, a bit of a word picture(rebus) underneath the squares would be revealed. The first contestant to figure out the rebus was the winner. When I watched this show, Alex Trebek was the host.
6) Jeopardy!: I am old enough to have watched this show when it was hosted by Art Fleming back in the 70’s. However, most now know it by its current version hosted by Alex Trebek. The ultimate quiz show, Jeopardy is a fun way to test your knowledge of trivia.
5) The Gong Show: One of the most ridiculous and funny game shows of all time, the gong show was a sort of talent contest in which contestants perform an act of some type(usually quite zany) that got judged by celebrity panelists. Many times the act never reached completion if one of the celebrities thought it too crappy and banged the famed gong, ending the act.
4) The Joker’s Wild: Next to Bob Barker, Jack Barry is definitely my favorite game show host of all time. He hosted this show of that was part quiz show, part slot machine, and part classic bonus round(“Face the Devil”). As fun to watch for the beautiful set and Barry’s wit, this game was one of my favorites.
3) Family Feud: I watched this show when Ricard Dawson hosted it, and I still love him the best. John O’Hurley also hosted it for a while and, I enjoyed him as the host as well. This game revolved around the idea, “What does the rest of America think?” It was very funny, especially when somebody answered something unfathomably stupid but the rest of his family clapped and yelled, “Good answer!”
2) The $100,000 Pyramid: Dick Clark hosted this show which was absolute ecstasy for logophiles and fans of the celebrities who played with the contestants. The game highlighted the ability of people to think “outside the box”. I always loved watching this show, especially when Tony Randall was on. He was an awesome player.
1) The Price is Right: Sure, it sucks now that Bob Barker is gone, but when he was there it was game show royalty. I personally think that a lot of the success of this show was due to the fact that it did not pre-screen contestants. This made for the occasionally utterly ridiculous bid from some clueless individual who thought that a microwave oven costs $100,000.
The games were also great and engaging both for the in-studio audience and the viewer. With Bob Barker as the host, I think he could have had people bidding on used Kleenex and still made this show work. As it was, the show is an all-time classic.
The eras when game shows ruled the morning airwaves is long gone, but the games are not forgotten. You can still catch some of these shows on the Game Show Network, and they are well worth watching.