In Hindsight: Game Show Horrorthon

I’m sure many of you are nostalgia geeks like myself who were waiting with bated breath for the summer series “Game Show Marathon”. I mean, celebrities playing classic games such as ‘The Price is Right’, ‘Press Your Luck’ and the greatest game show ever (according to Eric S), ‘Match Game’ should be a lot of fun, right?

Wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the games themselves – they’re time-tested, simple to understand, and above all, fun. No, the problem lies with the host, Ricki Lake, who has hosted the show as if she could care less. She’s shrill, campy at inappropriate times, and frankly, a bore.

On the other hand, we’ve got this year’s Hot Game Show, ‘Deal or No Deal’. You could say that it’s successful because of the simple nature of the game, but imagine someone other than could Howie Mandel hosting the show. Could, say, Louie Anderson do a better job at adding pressure to contestants who are wavering on whether to take the deal or continue on? Would it be the same if there weren’t the chance of the host freaking out should someone hug him? I know I shouldn’t make fun of OCD, but let’s be honest, the chance of this happening DOES exist, so I commend Howie for staying out there and staying calm.

It just goes to show you that sometimes, choosing a host or commentators can be critical as to to how your show is perceived. Here are some examples of both the good and the bad, and why.

You can’t talk about game show hosts without talking about Bob Barker, still hosting ‘The Price is Right’ after all these years. Sure, they’ve had different hosts, but remember the 30-minute “prime time” version hosted by Tom Kennedy? Of course you don’t, and that’s partially because Kennedy doesn’t have the same charisma that Barker does. Barker is always on the contestant’s side, always tries to keep an even tone, and is almost never negative. And what’s great about it is, using the same tone, be became the “heel” in beating the tar out of Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore. And we loved it.

Alex Trebek is another host who manages to keep a neutral tone on ‘Jeopardy’, but because of the nature of the show, he adds a bit of “smugness” into his tone whenever contestants get the answer question wrong. The best way to see how effective his delivery is to watch how Will Ferrell transforms that smugness to frustration on ‘Saturday Night Live’s'”Celebrity Jeopardy” skits. I’d include a YouTube link here, but apparently NBC has cracked down on the distribution of those skits (although curiously, not “Lazy Sunday”) so no Celebrity Joepardy for you. I do recommend looking for the episode featuring Dave Matthews, Bjork and (of course) Sean Connery, as Trebek actually makes an appearance at the end of the skit.

Then there’s Mark Cuban. His show, “The Benefactor” bombed, partially because the concept of the show seemed to be that it had no concept, but also because Cuban was miscast. In the show, he projected an image of randomness in his eliminations, a stark contrast to a guy who is pretty specific (and often dead-on) when criticizing the NBA, and a guy who I’m thinking isn’t worth billions by doing things that make no sense. But hey, he gave it a shot, it didn’t work, and he moved on. I’m sure he’s crying as his Mavericks are in the NBA finals and he continues to find success supporting new technologies. Tough life.

Back to more contemporary examples, we look at ‘King of Vegas’. This one is pretty much a given, given that host Max Kellerman is an ass and a blork. But in addition to having Kellerman, we get professional handicapper Wayne Alan Root, who runs contrary to the seriousness of the players (and Kellerman) by being way over the top in his “colour commentary”. The two never really clicked on commentary, and often the editing pace was so quick that the lack of exposition by the duo left you wondering just what the hell was going on.

Finally, we look at the host of a recently cancelled show – Joe Rogan on ‘Fear Factor’. Joe was perfect for the job, as it called for a guy who could encourage the competitors during the stunts and come off like a smug ass at the same time. And why not? The players are eating cockroaches and maggots to win $50K. Of course, the thing about Joe is that I’m not really sure you want to f*ck with him. Why? Well… this:

The touch, indeed.

IP Linkage:
Farah laments the lack of original ideas for creating hit Canadian reality TV.

Shelly enjoys men having bubble bath fights. And also ‘The Ultimate Fighter’.

Matt Basilo makes a case for Survivor’s Terry. Are we still going on about that? He also talks about Danielle’s armpits, something that I admit gave me flashbacks to Nena

Apprentice Martha’s Jim Bozzini is back with his take on the Apprentice finale, and tells it like it is – it was a snoozefest.

The Rev rants on Jim Lampley and his ignorance of MMA. Lampley’s igonorance, not Sick’s. He also calls Jim Rome a “know-nothing bag of douche”, which frankly is being kind.

The Week… In Hindsight:
‘The Ultimate Fighter 3’ (Spike)

‘Iron Chef America’ (Food Network Canada)
‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ (Food Network Canada)

‘The Apprentice’ (Global, NBC) – Note to the Donald: No, we don’t believe you when you say that you haven’t made up your mind as to who is the winner, so please, just stop insulting our intelligence. Now, some will say that Sean wasn’t a truly worthy candidate, but you can never underestimate the charm attached to the British accent and mannerisms. It’s why William Regal’s promos are entertaining. It’s why Michael Bisping is a popular guy on The Ultimate Fighter. It’s why Hugh Laurie has to hide his accent on House. And it’s why Mick has helped to sell so many of those damn Magic Bullets.

‘Last Comic Standing’ (Canwest, NBC)

‘Game Show Marathon’ (CTV, CBS)
‘Iron Chef America’ (Food Network Canada)
‘Good Eats’ (Food Network Canada)

That’s it for this week.