#96: Yahtzee
Great Shakes, it's a crappy Match Game clone


Syndication: (January 1988 - September 1988)

Yahtzee was a fun game to play when you were with your family and just wanted to have a good time.  I remember when I was younger my brother, mother and myself would play Yahtzee, even having to be one of the few to buy more scorecards seeing how long and how many times we've played the game.  But little to my knowledge there was a Yahtzee game show that aired in the late 80s.  I didn't get a chance to see it, mainly because I was young and it more than likely didn't air in the Seattle/Tacoma area.  And after watching some episodes of it, I'm kinda thankful that I didn't get it in my area, or if I did, my mom and I didn't know about it.

And seeing as how I started talking about this.  I think it's time I talk about it.


We're greeted by a familiar face in this business with Peter Marshall as host.  He gives his usual great hosting job here...well every show except for Reel to Reel.  Now not only is he the host of this show, he's also one of the producers of said show.  I don't know what other shows he's produced, but if this show is anything to go by, he needs a little more work producing.  Sadly, he's probably one of the only good things about this show.

He is flanked by his announcer, Larry Hovis.  Not only on screen, but he also produces this show.  I really don't like him as an announcer, and on this show he also does his best to emulate Shadoe Stevens.  Not only that, he always seems to wear this stupid headset, so maybe he could give commands to the booth without being heard and whatnot.  But honestly, it just looks dorky and not very pleasing.

The gameplay itself is where the show completely goes off the pier in cement shoes.  It's essentially a bad Match Game/Family Feud Clone.  Two teams of three compete which has a gimmick, so think the way Hot Potato had contestants, before they decided to screw that up and make it Celebrity Hot Potato.  Peter reads a question from one of the 6 that the contestants pick.  The question that Peter asks has multiple answers, the celebrities writhe down an answer, and then each player on the team gives an answer one at a time.  Each celebrity matched is worth a point.  After each team has one question, the team with the most points goes to the dice table in order to roll a Yahtzee.  Simply put, it was fun when Match Game did this, mainly because the questions often led to some comedy and the camaraderie of certain panelists like Brett, Charles and Richard were fun, but when you got a bunch of Peter's Friends I.E. Alan Sues, Bill Hayes, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller among others, it just doesn't seem right.  Not only that, when they had to reveal what they said sometimes, their explanations took a long time.

And now we get to the dice table.  The main goal is simple, roll a Yahtzee aka 5 of a kind.  And instead of using 6 normal dice, to make it more TV palatable, one side of each die is replaced with a Wild, theoretically making it easier to get a Yahtzee and winning the game.  If they do it, they win the game.  If they don't then they bank the wilds and whatever else they think will get them a yahtzee and they go back and play another round.  This I have absolutely no problems with.  However, what I do have a problem with is that in round 3, you are given 2 rolls.  If you have failed to get a Yahtzee, you lose and your opponents automatically win the game.  Sure it sounds almost impossible, but it has happened. 

The Bonus Round is at least a bit more fluid.  But that's like comparing cold molasses to granite.  For starters the team picks a letter in the word Yahtzee.  Behind 4 of the letters is $5,000, 2 have $10,000 and the last one has $25,000.

  Then Peter asks a Family Feud esque question such as Name a famous Doctor or something like that.  Instead of points, each match is worth 1 roll at the dice table.  If they fail, they still get 1 roll for winning the game.  And because the panel normally skewed older.  I mean, the average age from the panel had to be around 50 or so, especially if Larry Hovis was a regular, they'd either go for older answers, or sometimes take the question literally among other things.  So, the odds of getting more than 2 rolls are pretty....dire to say the least.

At least when it comes to rolling it's easy.  Get a Yahtzee in the rolls acquired and you win the money, however if you get a Yahtzee in the first roll, it's $100,000.  Now that's big money and it's pretty good.  However, when in a short span, two teams accomplished it and won the $100,000, they had to change the rules and make the path harder.  In order to get the $100,000 you had to first pick the $25,000.  Then on your first roll, you had to get 5 WILDs.  If you got Yahtzee, but not 5 wilds on your first roll, then the $25k is just doubled to $50k.  Either way, it was a budget saving measure, which also explains the pretty low standard of celebrities they pulled in to do the show.  I mean, I didn't think that the corral of celebrities from Win, Lose or Draw after Robb Weller was low, but Peter's batch was worse.

And that was essentially Yahtzee.  You take equal parts of Match Game, Family Feud, Spin-Off, and put them on a set that's equal parts flashy and equal parts ugly and you got a show that moved from Trump Castle to the Showboat and then to cancellation all in a span of 8 months.  The show wasn't egregiously bad, it was just not that fun to watch or to play along with.  I mean, Peter did a good job, given what he created, and the money was good, but everything else was just craps.

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