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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Finders Keepers

Okay, so I have a confession to make before we go ahead with this week's edition of the Saturday Smorgasbord, as well as the final day of August 2013. My god, it's been a long month. Thank goodness it is finally over.

Okay, here's my confession. I am a slob.

Don't misunderstand me though. I am not what I would consider to be one of those people you might see featured on an episode of “Hoarders”. I do not have piles of decomposing produce or jugs of bodily fluids covering my floor, nor do I have so much stuff in my place that it is considered to be a safety hazard. But I will say that as far back as I can remember, I've always been kind of a messy person. Even as I look around at my desk, it's absolutely covered with random things. I have documents that I just printed off from my computer, I have several books spread out. I think somewhere underneath all of the clutter, I have my iPod charging and adding the songs that I just purchased onto it. And, as far as writing implements go, I never need worry about finding one because I have literally sixty different coloured gel pens scattered all over my desk.

Now, some people might read that very description and cringe in terror over it. How in the world could I ever be able to work under conditions like that? How could I even find anything at my desk, let alone in my entire living space?

Well, I guess it's because it's what I have grown up with and am absolutely used to. And I think a part of it comes from the fact that I have never been a homeowner, and thus have never had a place that I can truly call my own. I mean, granted, I wasn't the person who purposely smashed holes in the walls, or painted my room some obscene colour like chartreuse, burnt orange, or blood red. But I guess I had the attitude that because it wasn't really our place, I could be as messy as I wanted.

(Keeping in mind that this is coming from the mindset of someone who was seven years old and whose idols included four gigantic turtles who scarfed down pizza and fought battles against a warthog, a rhinoceros, and a talking brain.)

Of course, my mind has matured over those years, and I no longer have that opinion. Yet, somehow the messy gremlins that I blamed for making my room untidy have followed me into adulthood. I guess it's just one of those hard habits to break. Maybe one day when I actually have a place that is truly mine and can do with whatever I wish with, I'll find it within myself to implant the Danny Tanner cleaning gene inside of me and keep my home so immaculate you could find photos of it within a home decorating magazine.

Or, at the very least, I'd be happy if I could take pictures of it and post them on Facebook.

But you know something? I always seem to find myself feeling more comfortable when things are somewhat in disarray. I am certainly not one of those people who have to have everything in its own place, and who flips out if even the slightest thing gets moved (though if you are, that's perfectly okay too). I actually feel really uncomfortable if I am in someone's house and it looks like a furniture showroom at The Brick. I would be the one to purposely take a cup of coffee and spill it over the couch cushions so that it would look more lived in!

I know. It sounds strange, right? But when you consider that this is the way that I grew up...getting used to rooms with a little bit of clutter here and there, it may make my argument much clearer.

And, I'll admit that in a lot of cases, the clutter doesn't prevent me from finding things. Even though my teenage bedroom often looked as if a bomb went off inside of it, I knew where everything was, and how I could find it. Everyone else who dared venture inside of it were lucky if they could even find the closet door.

In fact, I bet that if I had given everyone a list of...oh, say...eight objects in my bedroom, and gave them a time limit to search through every nook and cranny and under every single pile of debris in the area, I wouldn't be too shocked to see only half of the items found...if that.

Well, that happens to be the premise behind today's topic. We're going to be looking at a children's television game show that aired during the late 1980s that had that very situation. You had two teams of children racing through a life-size version of a house, and the object was to go through each room to find objects by deciphering clues detailing where their whereabouts were. Those who succeeded would win a bounty of prizes that could make any child's room a fun zone.

Have you ever heard of the television show “Finders Keepers”? That was the name of the game show that we will be looking at today. And it's actually a show that I only ended up hearing of long after it aired on television. The show ran for two seasons, between November 2, 1987 and March 10, 1989. The first season was broadcast on Nickelodeon and was hosted by “Land of the Lost” star Wesley Eure, and the second season was hosted by Larry Toeffler in syndication.

I suppose that the best way that I could use to describe the type of show that “Finders Keepers” was could be like if you took the game show “Fun House” and blended it with “Where's Waldo”. If you're a fan of those hidden object games, then “Finders Keepers” is the game for you.

The game started the same each time. We met the two teams, made up of contestants that were between the ages of eight and fourteen, and the host explained the rules of the game before they proceeded to round one.

Okay, so the first round (and second round) began like this. The teams would be shown a mural or a picture that may look something similar to this one below.

Now at first, it might seem like a normal drawing. But look closer. There are some hidden images within the main picture.

The host would read out the description of a hidden object within the picture, and it was the team's job to point out where the item was hidden. If they found the correct image, they would win twenty-five dollars for their team. Come on, let's play a round right here.

QUESTION #1: They can be found in schools and in the seafood section.

Can you find the item?

Yes, that's correct. The answer is a fish, and you can see it circled inside this picture.

Or, how about another one?

QUESTION #2: _______________ Dundee.

Can you find the item?

Yes, if you look at the bottom of the picture, you can see an upside-down crocodile hanging out near the ground.

(Or is it an alligator? You know what, I'll let you decide.)

At any rate, each picture usually had six hidden objects within them, so if a team had a clean sweep, they could win a total of one hundred and fifty dollars each round (which back in the late 1980s could buy an average of a hundred and ten comic books).

But that was just part one of each round. What about part two?

Well, this is where the “Fun House” reference comes into play. You see, the set of “Finders Keepers” was built in such a way that it looked like a gigantic play house (I'll be the first to admit that had I watched this show when it originally aired, I would have loved to go on it because I was a sucker for tree houses and play houses back in those days). Depending on the season you watched, the rooms of the house could be giant-sized versions of every day rooms (dens, bedrooms, kitchens, etc), or they could be theme rooms (a pastry shop, a laboratory, a school locker room, etc). Whatever the case, the host would read a clue that described an object in that room. Like, for instance...

Q: I have all the numbers from one to twenty stamped on my face, but its the direct center of me that you have to hit in order to score the highest.

Of course, you all might have guessed that the clue describes a dartboard. The trick is that the contestant has to dig through the room, locate a dartboard within the clutter, and bring it back to the host before the thirty second time limit expired. If the contestant found the item, they won fifty dollars for their team. But if time ran out, the opposing team would get the money instead.

And, don't think that the search for objects was going to be a cakewalk. Sometimes bookshelves came apart. Sometimes light fixtures would short out. Sometimes ceiling tiles would come loose and rain debris over the contestant's head. You had to be quick AND dodge flying objects. It could be quite challenging.

Don't believe me? Let's watch an episode below!

You get what I'm saying? It's fun, but intense!

In the second round, the prize amounts were almost doubled. Teams could earn $75 for the picture finding game, and $100 for the room search game. At the end of two rounds, the team with the highest score would earn the opportunity to go through the “Finders Keepers” house for the chance to play the “Room-to-Room Romp”.

And, what was the “Room-to-Room Romp”?

Well, the winning team would have to go through all six rooms in the house. They had to go through each room in the order that was given to them by the host. The order was non-negotiable, and the contestants only had 90 seconds to find all six items. The good news was that even if the teams didn't find all of the items, they could still win prizes. Even if they found one item, they would still be rewarded with a small prize. The only thing is that the more items you found, the better the prizes would be. Finding one item might net you a Nerf gun. Finding four might get you a Nintendo Entertainment System. Finding all six would win you a ten-speed mountain bike.

Oh yeah...if you found four items, you'd keep the four prizes you won.

Hmmm...I wonder if I could have been made to clean my bedroom more often if I was given the option of winning prizes every time I found someone else's item hidden away in my cluttered room?

(Only kidding. Somewhat.)  

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