Ask me some time ago what my favorite game show growing up was and my memory would tell you Tic Tac Dough, a show where you answer questions to get your spot on the Tic Tac Toe board. Watching a few episodes on YouTube and memory was not quite accurate. I think I liked the show for the same reason I liked Card Sharks in that my Star Wars and Voltron figures could be on the show when they weren’t at war. I could play these by myself and considering how rare it was I played with other kids that means something. Sure, I still like the two shows when I watched them, but they just didn’t hold up.
Ask me NOW what my favorite game show is and I’ll tell you it’s Match Game, a show where six celebrities try to match contestants based on the funniest answer. For example “Mad Myra is so mad (how mad is she?) she once tried to get a horse to [blank] in a water fountain.” Fill in the black, match the most celebrities in two rounds (or a tie-breaker) and you move on the solo round, where you match the audience and then a celebrity to win big money.
What made it fun, however, is the party atmosphere between the host, the late Gene Rayburn, and the celebrities, including regulars Brett Summers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and until he left for the original Family Feud Richard Dawson. Attempts to bring back this game twice previously (once by bundling it with Hollywood Squares) met with failure. I didn’t see the bundled one, but ABC’s last attempt to bring the show back had unnecessary added games to the show and the fact that you can now say things you couldn’t then meant the double entente was either right there or just right out said. Some of the essence was lost when censorship was laxed I think. So how does this new show stand up to the…yes, game show geeks, I know it’s not actually the original, but it’s the one we all know and love from the 70s and 80s so there!
Match Game is just one of four classic games shows ABC decided to bring back, although technically two of them were still here. Family Feud airs in syndication with the same host, Steve Harvey, only ABC’s is an hour-long celebrity edition. Michael Strahan isn’t the same host of $100.000 Pyramid that GSN is using but it’s the same set. Later this week To Tell The Truth will be the only game show that I haven’t seen a modern version already available for. I haven’t watched these because I wasn’t a huge fan even though I have enjoyed them when I watched them. I think GSN playing episode after episode of Harvey’s Feud while I was in the hospital actually ruined my enjoyment of the show. Play more Deal Or No Deal, would you? I don’t have this network at home because it’s part of the sports package and neither my dad or I watch sports. Unless you count Battlebots! I’ve been loving that show’s return although I think the drone and minibots take away from it. Obviously ABC thinks they can save money by bringing these old shows back.
So what did I think of this new incarnation of Match Game? I actually enjoyed it. There were no added games like ABC’s last attempt, the stars get to play a bit more (this first episode saw JB Smooth dancing with one of the contestants to the theme song), and outside of one Donald Trump bit the jokes were closer to the original show. The new screen for the Super Match portion (that’s the solo game) was a nice update and the set didn’t try to hard to be trendy, and was also a good update. I did miss the “star wheel”, added when the producers realized everybody was calling on Richard Dawson, leaving the others sit there because he was so good at the second part of the game.
I thought the most annoying part of the show would be Rosie O’Donnell, because…it’s Rosie O’Donnell, do I have to explain? She’s….Rosie O’Donnell. However, she seemed to restrain herself (except for the Donald Trump question but even then “orange slug” and almost everybody filling in the blank with “lie” was the worst we got) and wasn’t too bad. She even gave one contestant a cruise trip the woman had hoped to go on with her husband but failed on the big part of the Super Match, with Rosie not matching so that’s why she felt bad. It was rather nice of her, whatever I may think of her otherwise. I respect that. No, the biggest flaw was the host they got: Alec Baldwin. First off, I never found him interesting (not to mention the rest of his less but still famous brothers) but here? My word, was he terrible! While he shrugged off a good-natured swipe at the hands of another question, his jokes were the worse. This is the man they got to fill Gene Rayburn’s shoes? There was even one joke that could be construed as sexual harassment! He handled the host part well enough but not the funny part. And we’re kind of stuck with him, at least for this season. ABC wants celeb hosts, but I would have rather someone else. Maybe Chris Hardwick or something…almost anybody else since Rayburn isn’t available.
Overall though I loved it. It felt like a new version of Match Game and can easily recommend it to others. It airs Sunday nights at 10 PM ET on ABC. Give it a look.