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Snow Day - January 17

After the Greater Seattle area was beaten down by a winter storm twice in two months, I remembered back to the good days, when a snow day meant staying home and doing one of two things: either inviting the neighborhood chums over for a day of the unhealthiest of snacks and Nintendo gaming, or me keeping the snacks all to my self and the watching of copious of game shows. Clearly, those were the good old days, and today's kids aren't nearly as lucky as we were back then.

Take a trip back to either the 1970s or 1980s, depending on your own age. For me, the Golden Age was the late 1980s. CBS and NBC both had their mornings filled to the gills with game shows. If you didn't like The Price is Right, you could flip over to Sale of the Century. Not a fan of Card Sharks or Family Feud? You've got Super Password and Wheel of Fortune. Go farther back to the 1970s, and all three networks were putting game shows on their morning and early afternoon schedules.

For me, late afternoons were spent with the USA Network, a sort of poor man's Game Show Network before it existed. Having the Pyramids, Press Your Luck, and others made for a great transition after coming home.

I hate to drag you back from that wonderful dream, but our time is up. Take a look at the networks today. One game show on the schedule. If you're lucky, Millionaire or Family Feud is on at a convenient time. If not, it's TPIR or nothing. It's not hard to see how this has come about. For some inexplicable reason, network executives decided that we wanted multiple versions of The People's Court. (Don't ask me, I think just the one is plenty.) Paying a handful of people scale is cheaper than getting prizes, contestants, stage hands, talent, and other stuff. It's really a bottom line issue.

If that wasn't bad enough, we've gotten to the point where any D-list "celebrity" who can hold an index card and look into the right camera light can host a talk show. In television's constant quest for the Next Big Thing, we have constant turnover as many of those shows premiere in September and are gone by June. There's a place for shows like The View or Oprah, but after that you start to reach a saturation point where the hosts become little more than talking heads.

The sad thing is that I don't think anything less than some massive schedule overhaul by a stoned-to-the-gills executive will bring game shows back to the morning. That's too bad, because during the early days of summer, and those random snow days, kids would almost surely rather watch a game show than Martha Stewart trying to interview someone while baking a pie. I know that's what I preferred.

Travis Eberle can be reached at traviseberle@gmail.com if you can think of a morning game show that he's forgotten. Good luck finding one.

 

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