#65: The Game Game
Syndication: (September 1969 - September 1970)
Chuck Barris seemed to have a knack for going off the beaten path when it came to game shows. I mean, if you take a look at his first two hits, the Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, you'll see he was an innovator at that time. However, what would follow were a long line of failures. He had Dream Girl of '67, How's Your Mother In Law?, and the list of failures goes on and on. One of his more interesting failures was the concept of having celebs and a civilian contestant take a personality test on TV and see how the contestant matches up with the celebs. A good name of the concept would have been Personality, but that title was already being ruined by Bob Stewart at the time. So, Chuckie Baby decided to draw a name out of a hat, so to speak, and he came up with a rather bad name for his show, The Game Game.
Firstly, I feel really bad for Jim McKrell. He is a great host who never got the chance to shine outside of his longest running show, Celebrity Sweepstakes. He is a really good host, as his multiple pilots that are floating around the trading circuit prove. Here, he is reduced to nothing more than a bland, boring test reader like people had back in the days before written tests were done. So, he's the best thing about the show, sadly.
Now, to the set. It's ok for its time. It gets the job done. The music isn't that bad, but what I don't get is the trail of spaces that's between McKrell's podium and the celebrities. I'm wondering if Barris just borrowed Video Village's set pieces and decided to make the set more game-filled, so to speak. The music is groovy and fits the time, but it really doesn't fit what the show sets out to do.
Now that I've talked about the set, host, music, time to focus on the game, or the lack of. The contestant and the celebrities all take this bogus personality test that shows off one of their traits, such as their impulsiveness, romantic capability, money management, that sort of thing. In short, it's just a pointless venture to give you a label, sort of like those Facebook personality tests that sees what Pokemon are you or what lunch meat you're most likely to smother yourself with before having sex with Morgan Fairchild when she was at her sexual prime. Before the test starts, the contestant must predict if their score will be higher or lower than the celebs. Once that is taken care of, they proceed on with the test. Each test has 5 questions and each question has 4 possible answers. Depending on what answer is chosen, is worth 0, 5, 10 or 15 points. The celebrities and the contestant answer said questions and at the very end they get a small profile of what they are in that specific trait category.
At the very end of the show, they get their final scores and what they rank. If the contestant correctly guesses their score was higher or lower than the celebs, they get $25 for each celeb they either outscored or underscored and it's $100 if all 3 are either outscored or underscored. The payouts for 1969 are ok, and the contestant gets a decent prize even if they don't correctly predict the outcome. It just seems that they just threw that portion on there so it would be labeled as a game show.
Yes, it's about as boring as it sounds. I mean, I know tons of people do those profile things every now and again on Facebook and other websites, I just don't think that it's strong enough to build an entire game show around, and this was back in 1969, where those types of fun surveys were over-populating magazines at that time. The biggest thing I can say is that this is just a marginal game at best. I mean, the only game thing here is predicting if you're going to outscore or underscore the celebs in the beginning. Aside from that, there's no game here. It's just having a TV psychiatric evaluation done by some of Chuck Barris's crack research staff and shrinks from the LA County area. Barris would get his groove back when he would come out with Treasure Hunt and The Gong Show in the 1970s, but his last efforts of the decade turned out to be his undoing. All I have to say is that when he makes a hit, it's a hit, when he makes a bomb, man is it ever a bomb.
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