Sunday, June 23, 2013


Game shows—the original reality programs long before Survivor first hit the airwaves.  They used to be called quiz shows prior to the Charles Van Doren—Twenty-One scandal of 1959 where certain competitors were being given the answers and the outcome of the game controlled.  Today they are known as game shows.  They range from needing genuine knowledge about a variety of topics to guessing what the majority of people surveyed on a specific topic would say to determining how well you know your spouse to performing silly stunts or dressing up in silly costumes in the hopes of winning prizes.

From a recent published list of the 60 Greatest Game Shows of All Time, here are the top 10.

1)  Jeopardy
In my humble opinion, the best game show that's ever been on the air.  I've been watching Jeopardy starting with its original host, Art Fleming (hosted from 1964-1975), and continuing to the current batch of new shows with all the Alex Trebek years.  Created by Merv Griffin, it's the ultimate trivia challenge—a show that requires a depth of genuine knowledge on a wide variety of topics and the ability to drag that information from the back of your mind with great speed so you can ring in to give your response before the other contestants do.  Oh, yes…and the twist of needing to phrase your response in the form of a question.

2)  Wheel of Fortune
Also created by Merv Griffin, this long-running puzzle solving show is still on the air.  It didn't really take off in popularity until Pat Sajak took over the hosting chores and Vanna White started turning those letters in the early 1980s.  I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat.

3)  Family Feud
Survey says it's a classic.  Viewers like watching the competing families guessing the answers given by survey groups to various questions.  It's remained popular through a series of hosts starting with Richard Dawson and currently hosted by Steve Harvey (with hosting chores in between by Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, John O'Hurley, and Richard Karn).

4)  Match Game
I have to admit…a current guilty pleasure of mine.  Two back-to-back half hour episodes from the mid 1970s game show air every morning Monday through Friday on cable's Game Show Network.  Two contestants compete for cash prizes by seeing which one can make the most matches with 6 celebrity panelists by filling in the blank in a phrase.  It's one of those shows where the responses can get really off base and the celebrities appear to actually be having a good time.  So, I'm now saying good (blank) to this game show and moving on to the next one with some possible choices to fill in the blank being…bye or luck or riddance.

5)  The Price Is Right
Guess the price of item(s) and win a chance to play for the big dollar showcase prize.  This has been a television staple since 1956 when it first aired with host Bill Cullen (hosted 1956–1965).  Drew Carey is the current host, but the show is most closely identified with long time host Bob Barker.

6)  Who Wants To Be A Millionaire:
Originating in the U.K., the primetime US version hosted by Regis Philbin became an instant success and made "Is that your final answer?" an instant pop culture phrase.  While no longer a prime time series, the show continues on daytime television but without Regis.

7)  The Hollywood Squares:
No need to make any mention of the ill-conceived 1990s revival.  The version that made this list is the original 1960s-70s version hosted by Peter Marshall and featuring regulars Rose Marie, Charley Weaver, with Paul Lynde commanding the center square.  Various guest celebrities occupied the remaining 6 squares.  The celebrities would answer questions and the contestants would decide if their answers were correct.

8)  Password
This word game had 2 teams each consisting of a celebrity and a contestant.  Each partner would give 1 word clues in an attempt to get their team mate to say the password.  Show host Allen Ludden met his future wife when she appeared on the show…celebrity guest Betty White.  After Allen Ludden's untimely death in 1981, the show continued for many years in various forms—Password Plus, Super Password, and Million Dollar Password.

9)  What's My Line?
From the early days of television, this show debuted in 1950 and ran for 25 years.  A celebrity panel would ask questions of a contestant in an effort to guess the contestant's occupation.  The final contestant on each show was a celebrity with a blind-folded panel attempting to guess the celebrity's identity.  When the show first debuted and for the early years, it aired live.

10)  The Newlywed Game
I, personally, found it surprising that this show made the list of the top 60 let alone the top 10.  Newly married couples (I think the criteria was married less than a year) competed for prizes.  With the wives offstage, the husbands would be asked a question about their wives, themselves, or their marriage. They would write their answers on a card.  The wives would come out and be asked the question and had to give the answer they thought their husbands wrote.  The idea, seemed to be to ask embarrassing questions so the answers would be equally embarrassing. Oh, did I mention that this is another creation from Chuck Barris of The Gong Show fame?  There is a new, updated version of this show currently airing on cable on the Game Show Network.

What are some of your favorite game shows, past and/or present?  Mine, as I already mentioned, is Jeopardy.


Ashantay said...

I agree that Jeopardy is a great game! But instead of the Newlywed Game, I preferred the Dating Game. Tell you what, those women who didn't choose Tom Selleck either of the two times he was on the show probably kicked themselves later! Now I look back and realize the show helped me form my ideas of what I wanted in a man.

But yes, Jeopardy really is the best!

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: LOL...oh, yeah. You've got to know that when Magnum, P.I., came on they would hit themselves in the head and groan when then thought of what might have been.

Thanks for commenting.

Andrea Downing said...

Surprised not to find The $64,000 Question here. And I'm just about old enough to remember the often moving Queen for a Day.

Samantha Gentry said...

Andrea: I used to watch The $64,000 Question back in the day. It made the list of the top 60 game shows, just not the top 10 list.

Thanks for your comment.