Primetime TV will be seeing a resurgence of the simple game show with many of the classics brought back. ABC is currently airing 500 Questions, To Tell the Truth will premiere on June 14, and the fun really begins on June 26 when the network airs a three-hour block of Celebrity Family Feud (hosted by Steve Harvey), $100,000 Pyramid (hosted by Micheal Straham), and Match Game (hosted by Alec Baldwin).
Rather than trying to create a new game show, ABC is smartly relying on the classics. Over the years, networks have tried creating new shows that failed miserably. Today we salute 10 of those shows.
The Gong Show (1976 – 1980)
Created by legendary Chuck Barris (The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game), The Gong Show is a poor man’s version of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, which ironically also debuted on NBC as part of their morning programming. Although it was a legitimate talent show, The Gong Show also featured many silly scripted acts. Barris hosted the show himself, which was probably a mistake since he wasn’t professional in the least. The original version the show was cancelled after two years due to racy content. It was then syndicated for two more years but cancelled again for the same reasons.
Below is a clip that featured the group Oingo Boingo.
$1.98 Beauty Show (1978-1980)
How The $1.98 Beauty Show lasted more than one season is a mystery. Also created by Chuck Barris, this game show was a parody of beauty contests that forgot to be funny. It was hosted by comedian Rip Taylor, and each week, five beauties were judged by a panel of three celebrities needing an extra paycheck. Each contestant performed a talent (many were questionable) and posed in a swimsuit before one was awarded the cash prize of $1.98. Each “contest” was faked, as the outcome was pre-arranged.
3’s a Crowd (1979-1980)
Chuck Barris all but vanished after this debacle of a game show. Similar to The Newlywed Game, 3’s a Crowd would pit a man’s wife against his secretary to see which one knew him the best. The show ended up being more mean-spirited and racy than planned, and there was a huge protest to end the show, as well, which probably stayed on the air longer than it should have since it was syndicated.
Shop ‘Til You Drop (1991-1994, 1996-1998, 2000-2005)
For such a lousy game show, Shop ‘Til You Drop had enormous staying power. Set within and “shopping mall” of 14 stores, two pairs of contestants would compete against each other performing Beat the Clock-type stunts. The winning couple would be given a chance to participate in the final round, where one of the contestants would run around exchanging one prize for a mystery box at each “store” before the timer ran out. It’s as dull as it sounds.
Supermarket Sweep (1965-1967, 1990-1995, 2000-2003)
Supermarket Sweep originally aired on ABC and was revived many years later for Lifetime to be a companion show to Shop ‘Til You Drop. The show was just about as exciting. Three teams of two contestants would answer a series of trivia and/or consumer type questions in hopes of winning a shopping spree through a grocery store filled with fake meat and cheese products. The original show was actually filmed within real Food Fair supermarkets, but the latter were filmed at a mock grocery store.
Scrabble (1984-1990, 1993)
Almost as much fun as watching someone else play Scrabble, contestants faced a giant Scrabble board with mystery words already in the grid. On each turn, the contestants were given two letter tiles that may or may not be in the mystery word, and they took guesses on what the word was. There’s more to it, but not much. Here is a clip that featured game show host Chuck Woolery and John Davidson.
Yahtzee the game show had very little to do with the original dice game. It was like the ugly stepsister to the more superior (and funnier) Match Game. Yahtzee was hosted by Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares), had five celebrity guests, two teams of three playing contestants, and its own “dice girl,” who did nothing more than hand the contestants a large see-through canister holding the Yahtzee dice. The contestant would try to match answers with the celebrities in order to earn rolls of the dice, which were thrown about twice during the show. The original game is a lot more fun than this crowded mess.
The Moment of Truth (2008-2009)
To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth was the goal of this disturbing game show, where contestants were willing to expose some of their most unsavory secrets in front of millions of TV viewers as well as a live audience. Prior to the taping of the show, contestants were hooked up to a polygraph exam and were asked 100 questions about their lives. During the show, the contestants were asked up to 21 of the same questions, where they had to answer them correctly, as decided by the polygraph, or they would lose. The questions were separated by tiers, and the more that were answered, the more money they could win, but the questions would also become more personal and embarrassing.
The Chair (2002)
Cancelled before its initial number of episodes had aired, The Chair was another Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? type of game show that was strangely hosted by former tennis champ John McEnroe. Like Millionaire, each contestant was given a series of multiple choice questions. The trick here was that the contestant’s heart rate was being tested as well. The prize money was reduced for each second that the player’s heart rate exceeded the agreed upon threshold. Then the craziness began. For each series of questions, two breaks were given for the contestant to experience some sort of bizarre “heartstopper” events like going face to face with a live alligator or a giant pendulum swinging overhead.
Show Me the Money (2006)
Another show that got cancelled early was ABC’s stinker, Show Me the Money, that was basically a rip-off of NBC’s Deal or No Deal. The show was hosted by actor William Shatner and featured a lot of “1,000,000 dancers” who revealed different amounts of money on scrolls instead of suitcases. The end result was a dull show that was sent to be rebroadcasted on GSN, but it was cancelled early there too.
[Photo by Nancy Zerg/Getty Images]