My students often ask me, “When you were our age, Mr. J. what did you want to be when you grew up?” I usually give them some lame answer of wanting to have a career in travel or hospitality, but the real answer – what I really wanted to be when I grew up – is a TV Game Show host. As a child I was obsessed with game shows, and vowed to myself that I would someday be a game show host. Sadly, I no longer have a strong desire to host a game show for a living, but it certainly helps explain why I admire Jeff Probst so much.
While many may debate what classifies as a “game show,” this countdown will only include shows that has a new set of contestants each episode (with the obvious exception of returning champions defending their crown.)
50. Hollywood Squares (1966 – 1981, 1983 – 1984, 1986 – 1989, 1998 – 2004) NBC,
Let me start off my saying this…. If today, in 2016, I had to choose between sitting down for thirty minutes and watching a 1980’s episode of “Hollywood Squares” or being punched in the face repeatedly for 30 straight minutes, I would choose being punched in the face. When I think of Hollywood Squares I think of two people: Jim J. Bullock and Whoppi Goldberg. I would be hard pressed to find two people in the world that annoy me more than Jim J. Bullock and Whoppi Goldberg. First of all, who the hell is Jim J Bullock and how did he manage to snag the spot of center square? Is that all he is known for? Being the center square?
As a grown man, if I could somehow travel back in time to the mid eighties and slap little Ryan in the face every time he watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) Hollywood Squares, Modern Day Ryan would smack 80’s Ryan so hard that I would be seeing X’s and O’s for weeks.
49. The Newlywed Game (On and Off from 1966 – 2013)
I remember going through a very brief phase in which I watched “The Newlywed Game” religiously. I enjoy the overall concept of the game, but have always had a few issues with the way the show is operated.
The first issue I have with the answering part of the game is that the judges/host can be so inconsistent at times. There can be a very fine line between a right answer and a wrong answer. I am someone that likes the answers to be either yes or no, black or white. I hate when there needs to be deliberation to determine if an answer is correct (we’ll delve deeper into this issue when I discuss Family Feud.)
Example: Host – Husbands, where is your wife’s favorite place to make Whopee?
Husband #1 – Wal*Mart
Husband #2 – Home
Husband #3 – Kitchen
Host: Wives, we asked your husbands, where is your favorite place to make Whopee…
Wife #1 – Family Dollar (XXX Wrong)
Wife #2 – Home (CORRECT!)
Wife #3 – Home? (Sorry, that’s wrong, your husband said “The Kitchen.”)
What? Isn’t the kitchen home? I suppose it is the couples fault for not cheating and discussing any and all possible answers before appearing on the show. For example, “We are ALWAYS going to say “Home” for every even question, and “Casino” for every odd question. And if there is a question involving numbers, we always say 21. No matter what the question is, the answer is 21.
That is my second issue with the show. What don’t the couples cheat???? Even if they were too dumb to come up with some sort of clever system to answer all the questions alike, just whisper to each other for God’s sake. Or do one of those fake coughs…….
COUGH COUGH COUGH BananaCreamPie COUGH COUGH COUGH
Even as a child I feel as though I would have been able to outsmart the sketchy rules of this classic game show. This is money we’re playing for folks, we’re not here to just tell a few jokes and look pretty on camera. If I was on The Newleywed Game I don’t think I would smile one time. It would be all business. And don’t even get me started on the lecture my wife would get in the car on the way home if she lost the game for us.
The most unbelievable answer in the history of game shows. I need Olga on a modern day reality show immediately.
48. Sale of the Century (1969 – 1989) NBC,
As someone that is unable to say no to a good deal, I would probably be the worst Sale of the Century player of all time. Sure, I would be able to answer the questions and get the cash, but on Sale of the Century you are tempted throughout the show to buy certain sale items with your winnings. So I would end up losing all my hard earned dough on a flower print furniture set or a pasta maker just because I can’t pass up a deal.
47. Next (2005 – 2008) MTV
“Next” may be the cruelest game show ever devised. It sent one lucky guy or girl on a blind date with a bus full of members of the opposite sex (except for a few very special episodes.) The lucky guy or gal would enjoy the date with a hopeful until the hopeful did something that the “chosen one” disliked. He or she would swiftly end the date by screaming “NEXT” in the face of the hopeful. Sometimes, the NEXT was really bad and you couldn’t help but feel awful for the person getting Next’d. There were many times when a girl (thinking she was hot stuff) would walk off the bus thinking she was “all that” and confidently yelling to the other girls that they didn’t stand a chance because she is hotter than all of them. The second the girls foot touched the ground and the male suitor saw what a mess she was he would yell NNNEEEXXXTTTT!
Below is an infamous Next moment when an incredibly annoying girl falls off the bus, and instantly gets dumped. She is Jersey Shore’s Snookie before Snookie became Snookie.
46. Power of 10 (2007-2008) CBS – I have only seen this show a few times, but this is a show for gamblers. It is probably the easiest game show to win $1,000,000. I believe you only had to get 4 questions right and you were at the million. The first kid that ever played the game, in the very first episode, won the million. Basically, the show was “guess a range of numbers between 1 and 100. You were suppose to predict what percentage of Americans would answer a question a certain way, but the questions were typically so obscure that a 3rd grader had just as good of a shot a guessing the answer than a grown adult.
The very first contestant. And the very first million dollar winner.
Here was a very special crossover episode in which Big Brother 8‘s Amber and Daniele got to leave the Big Brother house to be contestants on the Power of 10. I would like to thank the Power of 10 for reminding me how much I hated Big Brother 8 Amber.
45. Win, Lose or Draw (1987 – 1990)
Much like Hollywood Squares, Win, Lose or Draw was littered with D list celebrities, whose 15 minutes of fame had ticked away years prior. I remember as a kid I would always try to play along by not looking at the bottom of the screen at the answer and guessing along with the team. I don’t think I ever got a single answer right before the team, but for some odd reason I still loved watching the show.
I remember also playing Win, Lose or Draw with friends and while I was always a great guesser, I was probably the most useless drawer to ever play the game. The only way I would ever be a successful “draw’er” is if the answer was “house” or “tree.” Anything else and my team would be totally screwed.
44. Don’t Forget the Lyrics (2007 – 2011)
Because of my passion for music, there was no chance that I was not going to enjoy a show called Don’t Forget the Lyrics. The show itself was rather difficult though. I suppose I did not like the fact that if you said something like “a” rather than “the” you would lose the game. They were awfully nit-picky over at Lyrics.
Like many game shows the first song (question) was so easy that any human being on Earth would answer correctly.
Example of a first missing lyric – (1 lyric missing) Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as _________.
As the game went on, the next few questions were a little more difficult, but certainly manageable.
An example of missing lyric questions 2-4:
(3 lyrics missing) – Britney Spears, 1999. “I must confess, that my loneliness is killing me now, don’t you know I still believe that you will be here, just give me a sign, and hit me baby ____ _____ ____.”
(3 lyrics missing) – Beatles, 1964. “Oh please, say to me, you’ll let me be your man. And please, say to me, you’ll let me hold you hand. Now let me hold your hand. I want to ____ ____ ____.”
The show would build up your confidence until you felt certain that you would soon be a millionaire.
Then, the naive contestant would risk it all to go for the million dollar question, which would go something like this.
Million Dollar Question!
(18 missing lyrics) – REM, 1987. “6 o’clock TV hour ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____.”
(missing 32 lyics) – Barenaked Ladies, 1998. “Hold it now and watch the hoodwink ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ _____ _____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ _____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ _____ ____”
Regardless of how difficult the show was, it was very easy to play along at home and those are always the best kinds of game shows. Don’t Forget the Lyrics was canceled in syndication in 2011. But we must, as a nation, never forget, never ever forget, Don’t Forget the Lyrics.
43. Debt (1996 – 1998)
I am sure not too many people will remember this humiliating show, but man, did I love it. The show introduced contestants and the current amount of debt that they owed, and the contestants were forced to give a quick little funny sentences about how they accumulated so much debt. The person that won the game would have all their debt paid for, and the other two losers would go home with all their debt in tact and the embarrassment of sharing their money issues with the entire country. Seeing as this show was on Lifetime or some station like that, it did not have the budget to pay for mortgage debt, or college loans or anything like that. It was basically “I am $8,000 in debt because I like to PAAAARRRRRTTTTTTYYYYYY!” or “I am $9,500 in debt because I can’t stop going to Target.”
Above is a classic episode in which Ryan, the shows winner, is in debt from deciding to purchase a toupee to cover his receding hair line. A must watch.
42. Minute to Win It (2010 – 2014)
If there is one thing I am good at, it is balancing a toothpick on a wire, while blindfolded and standing on a tricycle.
Hence, my love of Minute To Win It.
41. Couch Potatoes (1989) USA
Couch Potatoes is a television game show about television shows. Hosted by the game show legend, Marc Summers. Couch Potatoes pitted teams of three (usually three men vs. three women) against each other and about 95% of the time the men would win. The guys would win just about every episode, so they began having co-ed teams around episode 10, as to not have feminist groups coming after them for making their questions so difficult for women to answer.
Sadly Couch Potatoes was only on air for about seven months (September of 1989 – March 1990.) Sometimes life is just not fair.