Match Game (premiere)

{4/5} “It isn’t that much money, so it’s kind of halfway between a game show and a sitcom, and what you’re hoping is that people are going to keep tuning in to see their favourite panelists make the kinds of jokes that they make.” — Seán Cullen

Match Game is a game show that’s been around for a long time and is making a comeback. It’s mostly known for its run in the 1970s when it was extremely popular, but it actually started in 1962. Various attempts to revive it have been made, and a new attempt just started the other day (I watched part of the first show and all of the second).

Here’s how the basic game is played: There are two contestants and six panelists. The host reads a sentence with a blank in it (for example, “The good news is you’re inheriting a closet full of clothes; the bad news is the closet used to belong to _____”). The panelists write down their answers for what should go in the blank. The contestant whose turn it is says their answer, and they get points for each panelist they match.

In the matchup round, the contestants each get to pick a panelist to go head-to-head with on as many clues as they can do in 45 seconds. They’re presented with two phrases and they just have to pick one (for example, “change of scenery” or “change of pace”). This round wasn’t in the 70s version.

The contestant who wins goes on to the audience match. A previous audience gave their answers to a fill-in-the-blank clue (for example, “tree _____”) and the top three are hidden on a board. The contestant asks three panelists, one at a time, for their answer. The contestant picks one answer (from a panelist or one of their own) — if it matches one of the ones on the board they get a certain amount of money. The higher they get on the board, the more money they play for in the next round.

Finally, the contestant does the head-to-head match. He or she spins a wheel to choose a panelist and the two have to match exactly on one fill-in-the-blank clue (for example, “gold _____”).

The original show was hosted by Gene Rayburn. The thing that made the show special was the witty banter between the host and the panel (I would give the 70s version 4.5/5). Popular panelists who were regulars for a long time included Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Richard Dawson (Dawson went on to become the host of Family Feud). Betty White was also a frequent panelist.

The new version is Canadian, and it’s on The Comedy Network. The host is Darrin Rose, a comedian I hadn’t heard of. The regular panelists are Seán Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni. Other panelists include Canadian and American actors, comedians, and musicians. In addition to using the same set layout and essentially the same game play, an updated version of the old theme song is used.

Is there witty banter between the host and the panel? Some. Jeremy Hotz was particularly funny. Will it get better as the host and regular panelists get into a groove? Possibly.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 at 9:09 pm and is filed under Reviews of TV shows. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply