Thursday, October 25, 2012

OK, The New Canadian Version Of Match Game...

A piece you can kind-of-sort-of recognize as the classic Match Game theme music welcomes host Darrin Rose and six Canadian celebrities you can kind-of-sort-of recognize (well, I knew Tom Green and Amanda Tapping...), followed by two contestants who appear to have also been chosen based on their ability to create good comedy (in the episode I watched, one was a stand-up comedian and the other was a kids book writer).

They are there to play three rounds in each half-hour episode. The first two rounds are what you'd recognize as Match Game - contestant picks Question A or Question B, host reads out bizarre fill-in-the-blank question, celebrities write down answers, contestant gives answer, every celebrity who gives the same answer is worth $50. After two rounds like that, the third round is a resurrection of Match-Up from the 1990 American version - the host reads something like "Pop ______ - corn or quiz?", the contestant locks in his\her answer via buttons on his\her podium, the chosen celebrity gives his\her answer, a match is worth $50. After each contestant has played Match-Up for 45 seconds, the contestant with the most money wins the show and goes to the Super Match.

The Super Match is played about the way you remember it - the number three answer is worth $500, the number two answer is worth $1,000, and the number one answer is worth $2,000, followed by the contestant spinning the Star Wheel, Double spaces and all. If you get the number one answer, spin Double on the Star Wheel, and match the celebrity you choose on the final question, you win the maximum possible prize of $4,000.

It can't be easy to revive Match Game. Yes, I suppose you could argue it can't be easy to revive any game show, but Match Game was such a product of its time and so dependent on the chemistry of its cast that it must be even tougher - Darrin Rose watched some classic Match Game after being hired to host this version and essentially concluded that everyone on the set was drunk. It doesn't appear that anybody is drunk here, and it's far from bad - but there's no real energy to it, the payoff is tiny (insert joke about the stereotype of low-budget Canadian game shows), and it really is only slightly better then the likes of Late Night Liars or Hip Hop Squares. If this leads to a new American version of Match Game, then great - but we won't be missing anything if it doesn't. Maybe all these really good British and Australian comedy game shows are setting my expectations too high.

I likely will have to write this review again soon, because Ryan Seacrest's production company is apparently considering a revival of Rhyme And Reason titled - get this - Rhyme, Rap, And Reason. I'm not sure there's anything I can say that can top that.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

It Was Pretty Much What I Saw In Las Vegas...

...but I'll go through it all again anyway, at least as best I can remember it...

I arrived at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts around 5:45PM for a 7PM show, picked up my ticket at the Will Call window, and got in line for the contestant registration - which essentially consisted of me writing my name on a card and dropping it in a bucket. They were literally just drawing names. The theater was packed too, even on the balcony - and since contestants were literally being chosen at random, it frequently took several minutes for them to reach the stage after being called to come on down.

As the vast crowd filed into their seats, a video screen was showing a slideshow of trivia questions, facts about The Price Is Right, etc., along with an occasional "The show will start in # minutes" message. When the show finally did start, it was with a little video about the history of The Price Is Right on TV, after which a secondary announcer introduced our announcer, Randy West. Randy warmed up the audience with a few clips and instructions on how to clap and scream and go "OOOHHHH!" as each prize was revealed. Finally, Randy revealed what I had already known going in - the host would be Todd Newton.

This was followed by a little video of highlights of Todd's career, including his various game shows (Hollywood Showdown, Whammy, Powerball, Family Game Night, etc.) in addition to a lot of entertainment news reporting. Finally, the audience counted down five seconds, the curtain parted, Randy introduced Todd, and we were on our way. The set had been updated slightly from the one I saw in Las Vegas (the big doors were painted to match the current TV set rather then the thirtieth anniversary set from 2002), and there was a model in addition to Todd and Randy.

The format - the show started with three pricing games, with a completely new set of three contestants being called to come on down before each game. After three pricing games, the curtain was closed so the Big Wheel could be set up, and another little video of clips from The Price Is Right was shown.

After the video, Todd came out into the audience to play a variation of Range Game with three or four audience members who caught his eye. With each audience member, a prize taken from an actual TV episode of The Price Is Right was shown on the video screen, followed by a Range Game board divided into three zones. If the audience member correctly picked which zone the price was in based on the TV episode the prize came from, he\she won a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.

After that little interlude, it was time for the Showcase Showdown, which featured a completely new set of three contestants. These contestants could win $500 if they spun $1 once and $1,000 if they spun $1 again in the bonus spin. The contestant who came the closest to $1 without going over, and on the TV show would have advanced to the Showcase, won $250.

The Showcase Showdown was followed by two more pricing games, after which a completely new set of two contestants was called to come on down for the Showcase. There was just one Showcase, with the contestants writing down their bids. Whoever came the closest to the actual retail price of the Showcase without going over won one prize from the Showcase, and not the biggest one at that; if you came within $100 of the actual retail price of the Showcase, you won the whole thing (neither of them did it). After each segment of the show (the five pricing games, the Showcase Showdown, and the Showcase) six instant winners from the audience were announced, who would each win a bunch of gift cards (they didn't say where to). Todd signed off. The end.

The pricing games used were:

  • Punch-A-Bunch, with $2,500 as the highest amount on the board.
  • Hole In One Or Two - not for a car, and as far as I can tell there was no cash bonus for putting the grocery items in exactly the right order.
  • Cliff Hangers, played exactly as it is on television.
  • Any Number, with a four-digit prize at the top of the board. 
  • Plinko, with $500 in the center slot. 
If this all sound's because it's pretty much what I saw in Las Vegas. Still, I had a good time, and it was worth the $40 for a ticket.

I'll probably try to track down the new Canadian version of Match Game next week. 


Thursday, October 11, 2012


I just watched the premiere of the Australian TV version of The Unbelievable Truth...THEY GOT IT RIGHT!

After the BBC America version of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and the BBC2 version of Just A Minute both amounted to "point a camera at a taping of the radio show", I wasn't expecting much from the Channel 7 version of The Unbelievable Truth...but they did it!

The format, in and of itself, is pretty much what we're used to. Craig Reucassel plays host to four panelists. Each of those panelists takes a turn at giving a lecture of "information" on a certain topic; said lecture is completely made-up save for a small number of true facts (it's five on British radio, but here they don't give any specific number). At any point in the lecture, one of the other three panelists can buzz in if they think what they just heard is true; they get a point if they are correct and lose a point if they are wrong. After each panelist finishes his\her lecture, he\she gets a point for every truth that went unnoticed. At the end of the show, the panelist with the most points wins.

So...if the format is almost exactly the same, what makes this so great? Easy - they actually came up with a visual element to justify the show being on TV! During their lectures, the panelists use little props, have video clips to illustrate their "points", and so on. It really adds a whole new layer to the humor, of which there is plenty - Craig does a great job. That Channel 7 managed to make this work is truly unbelievable...and that's the unbelievable truth (sorry, couldn't resist).

As for The News Quiz USA...what is there to say? It's The News Quiz. Andy Borowitz plays host to four panelists. He asks questions about news stories, and those questions start the panelists off on several minutes of discussion\ranting about that story. It was very funny - I actually like Andy a lot more then I did Lewis Black - but it's probably never going to be anything more then an occasional special on BBC Radio 4 and that's really no great loss.

Finally, here's the big news in my life right now - I'm going to the live touring stage show of The Price Is Right on Tuesday and will report back on Thursday. I'll probably attempt to track down the new Canadian version of Match Game the week after that.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Few Things To Look Out For

Let's see here...
  • The Australian TV version of The Unbelievable Truth premieres on October 11. Hopefully I'll be able to track it down for a review.
  • Remember the supposed American pilot for The News Quiz, which was inexplicibly broadcast on BBC Radio 4? Two more episodes of "The News Quiz USA" will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on October 8 and October 29 respectively, with new host Andy Borowitz (replacing Lewis Black). This still seems like an incredibly weird move to me.
  • I'm not really sure if I'll try to track this down or not, but I feel like I should at least mention it - a new Canadian version of Match Game premieres on October 15. The host is Darrin Rose.
  • The winner of The Price Is Right Male Model Search will be announced on The Price Is Right tomorrow (October 5) and will begin his one-week tenure on the show on October 15.
I guess that's it for now. Huh.