Family Feud's 400 Point Format
ABC & Syndication: (September 1984 - June 1985)
One of the greatest game shows of all time is Family Feud. However, during the original run, the backstage feuding was somehow more interesting than the shows during that time. Richard Dawson was becoming more and more of a primadonna and if there was a YouTube and smaller video cameras back in the day, I'm quite certain that we'd be seeing tons of videos with Dawson yelling and screaming at the staffers and the producers, especially Howard Felscher, who was the Executive Producer at the time. With the show on its last legs, the producers decided that the best thing to do would be to add more game to the show, when it didn't actually need any more game added to it.
So, they decided to alter the format a tad. Now I'm not talking about the usual 100 people surveyed, top 5 or so answers up on the board format. I'm talking the scoring format in order to win the game. Back in the first year or so, the amount of points needed to win was 200. Where the first two were worth face value and all the others were worth double, where the game would normally end in 3-4 questions. Because so many games ended quickly, they had to extend the amount of points needed to win with 300, where after either one or two double questions, a new Triple survey was added, to insure the game would end so that games wouldn't straddle or end with so much time left over. Now, when 1984 hit, when the show was being hammered in popularity by Wheel of Fortune in syndication and in ABC, was being hammered by the likes of The Price Is Right, another Goodson show and the lineup that was on NBC at the time, they extended the amount of points needed to win to 400.
Now, if they had kept the format the way it was being 3 Single Surveys, then a double and a triple, the show would have kept the pace it had and wouldn't have mattered that much, besides the debut of the Lollipop Tree that took place in 1983. However, they thought with the addition of 100 points to the end, they added a 100 point survey, making it a grand total of 4 single surveys, followed up with a double and triple surveys needed to win the game, making the usual minimum to win was 5 surveys since they rarely, if ever used the maximum 100 in surveys. More often than not, it would take 6 or so surveys to actually get a winner. Because of that, the games often felt rushed and lifeless. This was also apparent when there was hardly any interaction with the celebrities during the influx of celebrity specials at this time on the daytime version or the syndication version, that with the 400 point ending and that the celebrities were dumber than a box of rocks, you'd get like 7 or 8 surveys and hardly anytime for Fast Money, making the edits very obvious to keep the show under 23-4 minutes, so that it would be able to air, without the game straddling.
This was done, in my opinion, to further minimalize Richard Dawson's Role, so that he would come off as a generic host rather than with the rapier like wit that he showed before hand. While I do agree that he was a primadonna backstage, cutting off one of the most famous parts, just to add more game to the show, seemed like cutting off your nose to spite your face. The interaction between Richard and Contestant was what made that show. If you threw in any host on there, then I can guarantee you the show wouldn't be as fondly remembered as it was now. It was Richard's interactions that made the show as memorable as it was. I mean, if it wasn't Richard for cracking up so hard on the Infamous "September" answer or him fainting when we had Rubber Duck make 11 points in fast money that one time, or any bad answer that would have Richard's rapier like wit slice them apart, the show wouldn't have that 9 year run on ABC or that 8 year run in Syndication, or even yet, it wouldn't have gotten the multitude of revivals it has had.
Well, as much as this format stunk, the ratings continued to show just how stagnant the show had become, and making the show more about the game and to minimalize Richard, both the Syndicated and the Daytime versions were cancelled around the same time in 1985. This just seemed like a horribly bad decision that was made to give one last gasp to a show that didn't really need any changes made to it, especially one where it made it a chore to watch and sit through.
I'm just thankful that when the show was revived in 1988, they decided to go back to the 300 point format where it could all be done and it allowed new host Ray Combs to interact well with the contestants. Further proof that adding things that are unneeded will doom a show to its knees.
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