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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Forgotten Game Shows of the Past...

Hey, guys!  Are you ready for another edition of Tube Talk Thursday?  I hope you are, because for today's topic, I've selected another interesting topic that just came to me in the blink of an eye.

I'll admit that this week, I was having a bit of trouble coming up with a decent topic for Tube Talk Thursday.  For some reason, I was drawing a blank for something to talk about.  I even scrolled through the cable networks in hopes that something would cause me to go "now, that's an idea for a topic if ever I've heard one."

And, wouldn't you know it?  The Game Show Network has inspired today's post.

Well, okay.  It's not the REAL Game Show Network that most of us are accustomed to.  It's actually the Canadian version known as GAME TV.  It's a network that airs both game shows and reality shows.  It's probably the only place where you can watch reruns of "Supermarket Sweep" alongside "Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model".

Well, picture it.  It's eleven o'clock at night.  I'm still wide awake, and I can't sleep.  So, being one who doesn't like watching the eleven o'clock news as I find it too depressing so late at night, I'm channel surfing to try and find something that is a little bit more upbeat.  It then comes to my attention that there's not a whole lot that is on at eleven o'clock in the evening other than news programs.

I find myself pausing at the GAME TV network, where a game show is on called "Split Second".  I instantly recognize the host as being Monty Hall, the man who brought "Let's Make A Deal" to television screens over fifty years ago.  Only on this show, there were no crazy costumes - just big eighties hair and bad eighties fashions.  It was a show that gave contestants three questions, and they had to answer the questions in split second timing, as the faster you answered, the more money you could make.  The grand prize was a car from 1987.  Because we all know how great cars from the 1980s really were.

Then again, the show did air in two separate instances.  Once from March 20, 1972 to June 27, 1975, and the second from December 15, 1986 until September 11, 1987.  I'm only assuming that the show that I watched came from the 1986 version.

But, of course, the show is new to me.  I was in kindergarten when the show was airing, and I likely missed each episode because I was in school.  So watching this show gave me the inspiration behind today's blog.

Game shows from the 1980s and early 1990s that are considered forgotten.  Shows that only aired a couple of years, or shows that even lasted a handful of episodes that never quite received the same love that "Wheel of Fortune", "The Price Is Right", and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" did.  But for whatever reason, I somehow remember them all, and I'm hoping that by talking about some of these lost game shows, it will jog your memory a bit.

Now, keep in mind that I grew up in and still reside in Canada, so some of you might not remember these programs.  That said, here's a list, along with some video clips of the game shows to refresh your memory, or introduce you to these shows.

June 16, 1990 - September 1, 1990

Yes, I know what you're saying.  When the heck did the popular board game become a game show?  Well, it was the summer of 1990, and I definitely remember this game show quite vividly.  As someone who loved playing (yet always lost at this game), it was fun to see a life sized Monopoly board and people getting excited about getting properties around the board.  The one catch was that two contestants couldn't share the same coloured property.  The red contestant couldn't have Park Place and the green contestant couldn't have Boardwalk.  Contestants had to have a full monopoly.  Each property was worth the same value that the properties of the game were worth, and if a contestant won the property by answering a trivia question, they would win the dollar amount the property was worth.  The second round was where the contestants actually played the game and tried to build hotels and houses, and go around the board by rolling giant dice.  That part of the game was always my favourite.

Unfortunately, the show only lasted twelve episodes before being pulled by ABC due to lack of ratings.  At least they tried.  And, at least the producers never tried to come up with a "Connect Four" game show.

June 29, 1987 - December 28, 1990

Okay, so this is a show that began airing right around the time in which people were discovering their love for vanity license plates.  And, that was the whole premise of the program.  Contestants were shown a license plate that might belong to a particular type of person, and they had to try and figure out what the plate said.  Here.  I'll give an example for you.

Suppose you were trying to find a license plate that belonged to Katy Perry.  Which one would you choose of the two?


If you picked the second plate which reads as "You're a Firework", congratulations, you win!  The first one reads as "Rock Your Body", which would more than likely be a Justin Timberlake license plate.

Anyway, an interesting piece of trivia about this game show was that although it aired in both Canada and the United States, the show was filmed entirely in Canada, and was hosted by a Canadian (Quebec-born Al Dubois).  Wink Martindale - who some may call the king of game shows - created this program, which ran for three and a half years.  Interestingly enough, on GAME TV, this show follows "Split Second" on the schedule.

January 23, 1989 - September 8, 1989

Okay, so this show was one that I absolutely loved, even though I was too young to understand some of the pop culture references.  Essentially, this show was one that celebrated the joys of channel surfing and sitting on the couch watching television.  Even the set was designed to look like a rec room of sorts!

Yes, 1989 was a year in which everyone seemed to be getting cable television.  In fact, I think that was the year that my family started subscribing to cable!  So, naturally, game shows began flooding the cable market.

Hosted by "Double Dare" host Marc Summers, "Couch Potatoes" pitted two teams of three against each other in a battle to the death with television show knowledge.  Each team named themselves after a television show, so for instance, you might have "Charlie's Angels" battling against "The A-Team".  It was really interesting to see what would happen.

The final round was especially fast and furious.  You had the standard UHF dial with each channel from 2-13 having a picture of a television show that you had to identify.  If you reached a certain amount of points, you won the game, but keep in mind that one of the channels on the bonus round was a "PAY TV" square.  Land on this square, you lost your points.  And, by the way.  You only had 30 seconds to play.  Talk about pressure!

February 5, 1990 - August 31, 1990

Interestingly enough, this show debuted the same day that the revival of "Supermarket Sweep" did in the United States.  "Supermarket Sweep" lasted five years on the air initially.  This show barely lasted seven months.

It's not as though comedienne Louise DuArt didn't try to make the show interesting.  I thought she did a good job.  And it's not that the premise of the show, which was trying to recreate celebrity gossip by answering questions about it was necessarily a bad one.  It's just that the show was so confusing that I found it hard to follow.  Watch the episode up above and see what I mean.

Okay, so those are four examples.  Can you name any more?

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