#130 - Extreme Gong
Blaming it all on alt.tv.gameshows? No, blame yourself!

 

GSN (1998-2000)
Text by: Robert Seidelman

Every form of media has those companies that strike fear in those who enjoy the good things.  In TV, those messages aren't any different.  Cartoons have DIC, Nickelodeon had Klasky-Csupo for any show made after 1997, movies have directors Michael Bay, Uwe Boll and producers in Roland Emmerich and countless others.  Game shows have a couple people in those strands as well, one no more notorious for ruining new versions of shows as Scott Sternberg.  He got his big break in 1982, creating the horrible pornographic game show Everything goes and the terrible Newlywed Game ripoff in Perfect Match, along with Scott Stone.  Whereas Scott Stone got better with Fun House, Shop Til You Drop and Legends of the Hidden Temple, Scott Sternberg continued to suck hard.  He would help ruin The Newlywed Game with Paul Rodriguez as host, proved he couldn't host and produce with a boring quizzer in Let's Go Back, along with the already covered Wheel 2000 and Jep.  Sadly, those wouldn't be the only shows he made for Game Show Network.  He also got his hands on Chuck Barris's Magnum Opus in The Gong Show.  What was a great show in the 70s and an ok revival in the 80s with "True" Don Bleu turned into one of the worst revivals in game show history. 

Time for Extreme Gong.

George Gray was the host of this show.  I will say this, George was a fantastic host when he was on Weakest Link, I'll Do Anything and other shows.  Here, he was forced to be really over the top.  But at least George reigned it in a bit and was still enjoyable.  He did take jabs at a certain part of the game show fan base who was very vocal about how bad the show was, but I will get to all of that later on.

He was flanked by his announcer, Eric Waddell.  He does a decent job.  He's not overtly bad on the show, but he's serviceable enough.  He does sound really over the top when he announces George Gray in the beginning, but it's alright.  I do admit that he's not that great of an improviser, which can be noted by the moments after an act gets gonged or when he got gonged on an episode.  He has good delivery and is likeable, but that's pretty much the extent to his talent.

Quite simply, the show is just like any version of the Gong Show, even the somewhat less crappy, but still terrible Dave Attell version.  Acts come on the show and perform various things, whether it's a band, a comedian (sometimes that word can be used very very loosely), or some other form of performance art.  How they are judged, is a bit nebulous at best.  Instead of having three judges of questionable fame, the audience at home decides who gets gonged by calling one of two numbers to either keep them on or gong them and charging them 50 cents.  While the mantra for GSN back then was interactivity, it took away the reactions from the judges and often the audience.  Plus, the reasoning for gonging an act or giving them a low score or a high score was always fun to watch.  Instead, we get George either telling them that they survived and telling the audience to give them a hand, or telling them that they got gonged, razzing them a bit, and then telling the audience to give them a hand.  To be blunt it's quite lame.

What also makes the show lame is some of their own sketches.  Most notably is Mini the Viewer Mailbox where Scott Sternberg got a midget dressed up as an angry mailbox to answer some viewer mail.  Needless to say, he got angry at everything and said everything sucked because they were too tall.  One episode saw him go on a rant about The Old Gong Show because everyone was too tall, therefore everything about the old show sucked.  To be frank, it's kind of low to bash the show that you're based off of.  I'm guessing Scott Sternberg was angry because out of all the Chuck Barris shows that were on the air in the 80s that he couldn't get his hands on and ruin, the one that slipped his grasp was The Gong Show because Chris Bearde wanted to tackle that one himself, since he actually worked on the original with Chuck Barris himself.  I guess Sternberg wanted to get one over on Bearde who had long since retired when this show was airing.

And on that note of getting one over on people who has supposedly "wronged" him, some of the shows featured jabs, sometimes subtle and sometimes blatantly obvious, at the game show web group alt.tvgameshows.  During this time, they were very vocal about the show being terrible, even e-mailing GSN themselves.  One noticeable moment from this was when George was announcing the Babe of the Day.  I should bring up that The Babe of the Day was very useless, just to bring filler to the show to make up for the lack of contestants.  Well, until Season 2 when the Babe of the Day was used to gong contestants by actually hitting a gong.  The moment involved the Babe of the Day chastising the fan group that they were all fat virgins sitting at their keyboards who will never get anybody even remotely close as good looking as her.  I will say this:  Kiss my big white ass.  It's one thing to take a nice little jab at the viewing audience, it's another to completely blast them and telling them they won't amount to anything in their lives.  To be frank, that small group of people that you called them were basically the only ones watching your crappy program.  This is why you're a failure as a game show producer and as much of a human being than a brick with less talent than Nickelback.  At the end of the day, the person with the highest percentage of keep to gong votes wins the prize of $317.69.  Yes, a prize much cheaper than the NBC counterpart of $516.32. 

At the end of the day, this is just pathetic.  While the cast is good, everything around them is pathetic.  The set, which is a basement motif, probably another dig at the "haters", looks absolutely horrid.  I already talked about the blasting of all the old versions of the show and the alt.tvgameshows group, and the prize money is as puny as Sternberg himself.  I'm just glad George Gray got another chance as host of The Weakest Link and a great announcer for The Price Is Right.  I don't know what happened to Eric Waddell or the rest of the band, but Scott Sternberg would continue to ruin TV with an array of reality shows, and other bad game shows like Lover or Loser and Go For It!  Sternberg earns the honor of Worst Game Show Producer all day long.  Go the hell away Sternberg, the TV world would like to forget you even existed.