Games O' Canada - Supermarket Sweep


Syndication/Global: 1992-1995

Hello, everyone and welcome to the 2nd edition of the Games O’ Canada. Last time out, we talked about a show that was just awful in pretty much every aspect in Just Like Mom. This time we’ll be talking about an import from the U.S.A. that was okay, but really should have been a lot better than it was. Yes, it’s the Canadian version of Supermarket Sweep. As we all know Supermarket Sweep was recently added to the line-up on Buzzr and it was a huge success in the U.S. It had a great host in David Ruprecht, A fun game with lots of variety and a reasonably nice grand prize of $5,000 (or more on a few special occasions). England had a long running version has well, again energetic host, variety, reasonable prize money. But somehow we didn’t really get all that in Canada. Our version lasted only 3 years on the global tv networks and in syndication in addition to being re-run countless times on GameTv and Prime. I must say I’m surprised to learn it lasted that long because even though I loved it as a kid, compared to the U.S. version it’s really lacking.

The host is Tino Monte, Given his background as a journalist and award winning broadcaster, He should have been a much better host than he was. But so much about his hosting was just awful. In the early episodes he was ultra stiff, although he eventually loosened up a bit, but, he went from stiff and looking uninterested in the proceedings to being ultra fake and often condescending to the contestants and he can’t ad-lib at all.

The set is noticeably smaller than the U.S. version, in fact, it just feels small. Not like a supermarket but more like a larger convenience store or a local discount store than a full fledged supermarket.

So the basic rules are the same as the U.S. version, teams answer questions for time to use in the sweep round, oddly, teams only start with 1:00 here instead of 1:30. I guess they need the extra time because the bonus round takes longer (I’ll explain later) and after the first commercial Tino reads off a nutritional fact or helpful hint. The U.S. version did this too in its early days, but after a while instead of forcing David Ruprecht to read a elongated copy, They just showed a graphic with an abbreviated blurb about it, which should have carried over here. The main problem with the show is this version lacked the variety of the U.S. version had, Unlike the rotating series of games the U.S. version had, Canada followed the same formula each time. the first portion always started with the mini sweep: Tino reads a clue (often ending in a rhyme), the team that solves it gets 10 seconds and their partner then has 20 seconds to go find said product in the market and bring it to Tino, if successful they earn a $50 bonus for the sweep round. On a few occasions when the product was a health food item, a successful mini sweep also won them a bonus prize: a $75 gift certificate for Naturally Yours health foods and Tino would present the winner with the catalogue in what was an obvious shameless plug. I guess the only knock here is that it’s cheaper than the U.S. version which offered a $50 bonus for finding the item in 30 seconds and $100 for doing it in 20. The partners leave while the first players play 1 game, JUST ONE! And what’s worse there are only a limited number of games in the rotation: straight ask questions answer question, ask question choose answer from list, and word puzzles. In the 2nd half the process repeats with partners swapping roles and the 2nd half always starts with a 2nd mini sweep and this time the 2nd player plays 2 games.

The game concludes with the round robin game. Tino reads up to 3 clues to a product, the team that solves it scores 10 seconds, after each answer partners switch. A total of 6 are played. I said before that Tino is condescending to the contestants this it’s most noticeable. The way he reads the clues reminds me of a teacher in school trying to lead the class to the answer to a question no one knows and he’ll repeat them over and over until the buzzer goes calling time or even try to throw another subtle hint in there. Just listen to how he handled this stumper in an earlier game. I HATE when he does this. The contestants are already worried about looking dumb on TV, they don’t need you to make them feel dumber.

After the round robin it’s on to the big sweep.

Now surely, they couldn’t screw this up right? Well they did. First off, A good host can explain the rules in a quick way without sounding like he’s rushed. Tino explains the rules pretty much verbatim and in a very unenthusiastic, very slow way every time which gets annoying as we’re all shouting at our TV sets “Shut up and let them start running” and comes across as condescending, Just listen to this mess. Plus, again, the variety is lacking, the U.S. version had had a great variety of bonuses like: grinding a bag of coffee, stacking soda cans into a pyramid, the international bread center just to name a few. Only 3 bonuses were ever offered during the entire run in Canada and only 2 per show at mpst, sometimes they only had the “shopping list”: First, The shopping list (which was always in play): Tino reads 3 items at the beginning of the sweep. If the runner can get all 3 over the course of the run the team gets a $250 bonus added to their total. It was on the U.S. version as well but eventually adaptated into the alphabet game we never got that here.

Second, The Manager’s special: In the middle of the sweep Tino announces a product that is the day’s manager’s special. Runners race to a “bargain bin” and try to find said product. If they find one and it’s specially marked they get a $200 bonus. I will say I like how Tino announces this over a P.A. system, sure it’s not as clear as David Ruprecht’s announcement on the U.S. version but it makes it feel more like a supermarket and honestly, they did this right. Third, remember when the U.S. version had those ridiculous oversized products? They did that here....kinda. In the market were 3 balloons that look like cheese wheels, one worth $50, one worth $75 and one worth $100. Each team could take a max. of 1. Those were the only 3 ever offered. No international bread center, no coffee grinder or penny candy scale and nothing for the partner to do other than to hand them a new cart when they come back with a full one.

As the teams run the sweep announcer Dave King provides the play-by-play. I don’t know if it’s Dave’s fault or it’s just the writing but his commentary pales in comparison to Johnny Gilbert or Randy West on the U.S. version. Far too often his line would be “what’s (insert name) up to? Loading up on (insert product) way to go (insert name)!”

The team that racks up the highest total in groceries and bonuses wins and plays the bonus round but elephant in the room, They don’t get to keep the total from the big sweep. Especially it was rare to see a team go over $1,000.

Same process as the U.S. version, Tino reads them the first clue which leads to a product in the market, this will give them the clue for the 2nd product which will lead them to the 3rd and final product. Finding all 3 products in 60 seconds wins however, the contestants don’t win $5,000.....No instead, the winning team chooses one of the letters in Supermarket Sweep and this determines their prize. The top prize being $5,000 in cash and it’s only behind 1 letter, So if you win you only have a 1/16 chance at winning the $5K and it’s based purely on luck. Originally the board had all cash prizes ranging from $500- $5,000 But later the board was changed to offer prizes including decent prizes like a trip to Cuba (something a U.S. show has never offered) and a 21’’ TV. To smaller prizes like $1,000 worth of house cleaning service, $500 in cash, a water cooler and a year’s supply of water. and what do they get if they don’t win? A coffee maker and a year’s supply of Nabob coffee. The bonus board just felt very out of place and tacked on simply because the producers wanted to make it harder for teams to win an expensive prize.

Speaking of which, I didn’t even mention, Nabob was one of the show’s main sponsors, announcer Dave King plugs Nabob in the intro of the show, a Nabob coffee display is conveniently plopped right behind Tino for the entire show, You can bet there will be at least one question about Nabob coffee during the show and there’s yet another plug during the credits.....enough already yeesssh! I’m amazed they didn’t go the shop ‘til you drop route and plaster a nabob logo on the contestant podium, Have Tino wear a tie with the Nabob logo, put Nabob logos on the carts

Despite the flaws It’s still supermarket sweep, it has the play along potential and it’s always fun to watch contestants run all over the market. It’s not a complete dumpster fire, It’s watchable. I guess what I’m saying is, It was okay, But could and should have been a lot better. It just felt like a half-assed effort with a subpar host, mediocre announcer and mediocre writing.

There was also a French version called “Lépercie en folie” which translates to “grocery store madness”. However, I haven’t found a full episode yet only a promo and from what I’ve seen. I’m not expecting much......

I said in the first column that this was going to cover the good, bad and ugly. So far that’s one ugly, and one bad so we’ll talk a good show next time “oot”: The Mad Dash. I’m Marc Power and on behalf of all of us at Game Show Garbage....Keep your stick on the ice.

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