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Retrogaming Revisited: Part 1 - March 25
Gordon Pepper

Assuming that you have been reading the news section of the website (which I know you have), you know that Ant and Dec of the UK have decided to go ahead with a series of retro-gaming one-shots that include Blockbusters and Bullseye. That got me to thinking… out of all of the shows that we all talk about that we’d love to see again, what shows would do well – perhaps even better now than their original runs - and which shows wouldn’t? That’s the topic of this week’s column, and in addition to Blockbusters and Bullseye, we’ll talk about the shows that we will be running for this year’s Game Show Tournament at GSC 4 (hey, if the big networks can do cross-promotion, then so can I).

Blockbusters – What a great choice. By keeping the payout at a low $5,000 for a Golden Road win, this has potential for a GSN pickup for next season (as long as they don’t screw around with it). Put Mark Wahlberg or Kennedy as the host and I think this would have hit written all over it.

Bullseye – I never liked this game, as the pace was incredibly slow and I just don’t like games where one person, controlling the action, can win the match. Despite me, there are many people out there who like the show, and it could have a decent syndicated run if you could find a way to speed up the pace of the game. Could a Marc Summers-type be able to spin up the show?

Match Game – There have been remakes of this game, but it hasn’t had the staying power that Gene Rayburn has. The show needs to be naughty, irreverent, and willing to be edgy – just like the 70’s version was. For this show to have a chance, it needs to be cultivated on either FOX (who has been edgy in the past) or Cable (Comedy Central) and have someone who isn’t afraid to be a little blue (someone like Mark DeCarlo…or maybe a Brit such as Jimmy Carr? He does have a version of the show (Blankety Blanks) across the pond for him to draw on…)

Jackpot – This was another great game show, but it’s production company ran out of money will the show was going and it had to be shut down. If you kept the budgets low here, it could work, but I the only viable network that would run this show is GSN and I don’t see them picking a riddle show up (and a potentially expensive one, at that) for 13 weeks. If they did go on with it, someone with a bit of humor (Tom Bergeron?) could work out well with it.

Remote Control – Hmmmmm…..I certainly think that this should could easily be brought back and made a cult hit on MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, GSN, or wherever it decides to roost. The catch is that this show was as much powered by the play between the host and accompanying troupe of actors as the show itself. For this to work, you need a hip host with some attitude and a quick wit, an attractive and sassy babe, and a smart aleck side-kick who can all trade barbs with each other and who don’t have much in the realm of inhibition. Carson Daly, Playboy Playmate (and Smush Co-Host) Lisa Dergan and Rich Vos seem to fit in nicely in the Ken Ober, Kari Wuhrer and Colin Quinn spots, respectively.

Starcade – Who didn’t love this arcade-based show growing up as a kid. If you could update the format and make it more of a 1 on 1 competition, or completing a level quicker instead of just getting points, a revival of this show would be perfect for an up-and-coming G4 network. As for the host, you need to get someone who the kids follow and who also has a credible video game presence – Tony Hawk would fit nicely.

Win Ben Stein’s Money – When Jimmy Kimmel left the show, so did the audience. The show is perfect as is – you just need to either get Ben back, or replace him and get someone in the Kimmel mode. I wonder what Ken Jennings will be doing after May – and I wonder what Frank Nicotero will be doing after Street Smarts finishes their season. Crank up the pot to $10,000 and unleash Nicotero and you have a show that should be able to grab a decent syndicated audience.

Whew! – This is perhaps one of the more underrated strategy/trivia shows of all time – which is why it has an amazing cult following. I can see Todd Newton or Tom Bergeron being a very competent host and filling Tom Kennedy’s role nicely. If they shrank the pot down to $10,000, this could be a show that Comedy Central or GSN could take a stab at – you listening, GSN?

Press Your Luck – Forget the 2 seasons of Whammy! I actually am enjoying the show better as it ages, but it doesn’t come close to the original Press Your Luck. Bring back the square board, bring back Tomarken, bring back original Whammy creator Savage Steve Holland, get rid of the Double Whammies, update the board, add some strategy (and I’m sure everyone and their mom has new squares that they’d like to see in), pump up the money, and team it up with an edgy Match Game and a revived Greed on Friday night on FOX and you may actually get not only a ratings-viable Friday night, but the first Prime-Time game show block in a long time that could actually work.

So I mentioned that this was part 1. The reason being – I want you guys to supply me with part 2. E-mail me your ideas for what shows you think should be revised and what you think about the ideas here. In a few weeks, we’ll come back with your suggestions – and we’ll see how feasible they are.

Gordon Pepper can be reached at
gordon@gameshownewsnet.com

 

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