#119 - Mark Richards
The broken button an an arcade machine of greatness.
Starcade (December 1982 - June 1983)
Text by: Robert Seidelman
At the start of each show, Mark would be introduced and come running off from the side, not actually playing the games or anything, like the actual contestants. I mean, they're enjoying themselves playing Ms. Pac Man and what appears to be either Omega Race or Berserk. He's more interested in getting to the main set. It's like he was claustrophobic about being anywhere near a dark room and video games with two people who can play games and there's Mark, who's probably never even heard of Pong.
That leads me to my biggest complaint about Mark Richards. He never really enjoyed the games. I mean, I know that video games were a brand new concept for the time, especially of the Arcade variety, but if you're going to host a show based on them, you either have to fake it really well or actually know a bit about the games themselves. Mark didn't seem to care about either of them. Even when he was reading the questions about the games, Mark thought they were beneath him.
Another thing that Mark didn't seem to like was to be near the contestants and watch the game happening. Every time a contestant would get ready to play the game, he would walk to the middle of the set and stay far away from the contestant as possible. It is worrisome that when you have a host of a show not being passionate about all the aspects of the show, then you really have problems. Also, he wouldn't talk about the game as well or even hype the games.
Another problem with Mark was that he was just too stiff for this type of show. He took everything really seriously. I mean, even the kids who usually competed on the show knew that the games were the star and when someone did win the big prize, he emulated an Intellivision Voice Module and said in a really robotic voice "Congratulations, you won your very own video arcade game". There was just no passion with Mark Richards on this show. Not about the games, the contestants, the prizes, nothing.
It was crystal clear to everybody that Mark Richards wasn't the right guy for the job. He didn't care about the games being played and looked rather uncomfortable in front of the camera. So, after 23 episodes of Mark Richards, owner of WTBS Ted Turner told the producers that Mark was corpsing.
Wait, Mark's corpsing?
So, they did and we got this guy.
That's right, we got the god of the video game show himself in Geoff Edwards. It was him that got the show to be as memorable as he is. Especially with him taking a fondness to the games and his somewhat helpful tips. Another thing that he brought to the show was some great comedic banter between him and certain contestants, making the show more fun to watch than what it was under the Mark Richards era.
Mark would continue on in his game show pursuits, eventually becoming the contestant coordinator for the first season of Jeopardy, hosting various games on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the late 80s, among other places as well. I guess Starcade wasn't the right fit for him, but then again it was custom made for a special type of host like Geoff Edwards and Alex Trebek.
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