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Peter - March 15

I was planning on doing something about game shows and tournaments, but obviously that's going to wait until next week. Obviously, that's not going to happen. From the front page news, you know by now that former game show host Peter Tomarken was killed in a plane crash off of the coast of California. We're all here because we love game shows. I love to write about them, the people involved, those of the past and present.

Everyone remembers him from "Press Your Luck," or if they can't remember the name of the show, it was "that one with the whammies". He hosted the show with a style all his own for four great years; years you can see daily on Game Show Network, and the USA Network before it. I doubt that "Press Your Luck" was among the harder game shows to host - the questions were not demanding, all anyone has to do is keep up with the information on the scoreboard, read whatever is on the hit screen, and occasionally mention the price of a prize that was hit. Even so, Peter made the show his own, coining catch phrases out of something as simple as reading the current player's cash total. Who among us doesn't remember "You want to be careful about picking up a third whammy in round one?" His pairing with Rod Roddy was genius casting.

Though Peter will be remembered by most casual viewers as host of "Press Your Luck," I was particularly fond of his hosting on "Wipeout" and "Paranoia." It was a chance to see Peter away from the show where he had been working for four years. Personally, I thought he was fantastic. On "Wipeout," Peter was able to bring the excitement from "Press Your Luck" to a game that was more about knowledge (or at least assumed knowledge) than straight up luck. "Paranoia" was a great showcase for his improvisational and interviewing talents, since it was the first game show in a while to go out live. Even after an amusing slip-up concerning a throw to commercial, he was able to laugh about it and keep going, providing trivia geeks with a show that had never been done before: you're not crazy, everyone IS out to get you.

We've lost a great host and figure in the world of game shows. Even so, we still have over a thousand episodes of his work to watch, all of them showing what a great host he was. Enjoy the forthcoming marathon, and remember Peter the way he should be remembered.

No pithy end line this time. Send comments, memories and thoughts to: traviseberle@gmail.com

 

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