Sunday night, ABC opened up the time capsule to pull out two classic game shows to reboot for 2016. While this may seem like an easy ratings plan for summer, it’s hard to reproduce that kind of magic and nostalgia. However, Match Game and The $100,000 Pyramid managed to do both.
Despite modern technology, both shows stayed true to their original staging. Pyramid even kept the flipping category screens in the final round. Meanwhile, Match Game appeared to pull out the shag carpet and an old library of 70’s music.
Pyramid’s celebrity players, including Kathy Najimy, Sherri Shepherd and Anthony Anderson, repeatedly stole the scene – mostly because Anderson was hopeless at the game. And everybody roasted him for it.
Therein lay the difference. Originally, these shows were all about presenting celebrities as real people. But while 70’s contestants were awed to be calling stars by their first name, we feel like we already know them.
And this time, Match Game had to do without the irrepressible Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly. Instead, they had Rosie O’Donnell. However, we did find out who can – and who cannot – spell.
And while Gene Rayburn is long gone, Alec Baldwin managed to find his long skinny microphone and deliver perfect one-liners with surprising ease. After all, on America’s favourite fill-in-the-blank game, it’s all about the naughty jokes.
Alternatively, Pyramid, which was originally $10,000 and hosted by the squeaky clean Dick Clark, was – and still is – more family-friendly. That is, until host Michael Strahan was literally floored by a contestant’s rather graphic clue for the word “Viagra.”
Speaking of which, today’s game and reality show contestants always seem to use their 15 minutes as a springboard for a new career. However, the original game shows brought out a different animal: people who just wanted to win. They weren’t the stars of the show, but the back-up talent.
They were there to play the game and go home, where they would add to their Pez collection and play the home game in their basement.
Consequently, on Match Game the contestants answered only two questions before the grand prize round. You could practically count the number of words they spoke on one hand.
And somehow in our media-obsessed, “I wanna be a star” society, producers found those simple contestants once again. One made Tony the Tiger costumes and screamed at the end of each round.
Meanwhile, another player proudly described the bowl of Oreo Double-Stuf cookies in milk that she ate every morning as her “cereal.”
Of course, her 40-something opponent waxed poetic about the wild animals living near her home, including an opossum she named “Bear.” This bright bulb was hoping to win and take her hubby for a long-overdue vacation … on a New Kids on the Block cruise.
2016’s Match Game and $100,000 Pyramid are not exactly your mother’s (or my) game shows. But they did prove one thing: the magic is still there … as long as the prizes are bigger.