50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time

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 ____ _____ ____.”

or

(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 ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____.”

or…..

(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

Couc

h 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.

11 Reasons Why I Hate NCAA’s March Madness.. And You Will Too

First of all, relax… Before you send me hate email about how March Madness is amazing, hear me out. March Madness is BY FAR my personal favorite sporting event of the year. I even use March Madness in my Statistics class, and teach about the stats of the tournament for an entire month. In my opinion, the only sporting event that could hold a candle to the NCAA basketball tournament is the Triple Crown, but trust me, you can expect an article in May about why that sucks too.

My classroom board in March. Artwork done all on my own. I know what you're thinking... and yes, that is a self-made bobblehead doll of myself. (photo credit: R. Jacobson)

My classroom board in March. Art work done all on my own. And I know what you’re thinking… yes, that is a self-made bobblehead doll of myself using Jonathan Papelbon’s headless body that was nearly trashed when he left the Red Sox, but salvaged out of the garbage once I came up with the idea to put an oversized picture of my face on the bobbly cord sticking out of the gaping hole where his head used to be before I got mad at him. (photo credit: R. Jacobson)

 

Despite the fact that I “watch” a few hours of college basketball a year, it is still something that gets me all in a tizzy (I say “watch” because I am usually in attendance at a few games, and watching the actual game is nearly impossible for an ADD, busybody like me, that is too worried about flagging down the beer man or plotting how I am going to pee, because I sure as hell refuse to ask the poor people in my row to move again so I can go to the bathroom, purchase more food that I absolutely do not need, or get another beer.*)

*two beers. Half of one beer is guaranteed to spill all over the kind people that let me through their aisle for the sixth time.

So, if I love March Madness so much, how is it possible that I easily created a countdown of why I hate March Madness so much? Read on, and you too, will quickly realize that you hate March Madness just as much as I do.

11. Having to Listen to Friends/Co-workers Talk About College Basketball And Pretend They Are NCAA experts.

Let’s face it, unless you are Dick Vitale, nobody gives a damn about your “expert advice,” or who you are sure is going to win each game based on their rebound percentage, or points allowed per game.
When someone at work starts talking to me about who they think is going to win, and why, I always do one of two things: tell them I don’t care, or tell them I don’t give a shit.

*edited to add that I don’t even give a shit what Dick Vitale says either.

10. When Your “Underdog” Pick That You Have in the Elite 8 Is Eliminated In Round 1.

Nothing is worse than when you try to make a big move and include a #15 seeded “Northwestern North Dakota Tech” in your elite 8 (just so you could be the only one that can brag about them beating a #2 seed in Rd. 1,) and they get beat in round 1 by 41 points.

Congratulations. Every single person on the planet just gained 1 point on you for being such an idiot.

9. When You Can’t Remember You Passwords From Last Year

I have spent countless hours trying to register for ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo, CBS Sports, my local newspapers, my local TV stations, my local radio stations, etc. pools, but can not remember my user name, password, or email address that I used to sign up the previous year.

I probably now have 17 email addresses registered at Foxsports.com from all the years of unsuccessful attempts at logging in.

8. When You Lose a Final Four Pick In Round One Or Two

Two words: Red X’s.

7. When You Have Too Many Brackets

Nothing is worse than not knowing if you should root for a team or not.

Me (every game): “Ohhhhhhhhhh, look at this, if Gonzaga wins, I gain four points on Johnny in Jared’s pool. But, if they lose, I have them making it all the way to the final four in Jenny’s pool, and that would suck. But, then again, Greg has them winning the entire tourney in the office pool, and I only have them making it to the Sweet 16, plus that bastard won the pool last year, and I would rather have anyone else win instead of him………..”

6. The TV Schedule

This is a two fold Whammy!

The first thing is the timing of the games. If you are on the East Coast, you have to stay awake until way past your bedtime to make sure your bracket is still thriving. If you are on the West Coast, you basically have to take a sick day from work for the first two days of the tourney to catch the first zillion games that will be over before you get out of your awful job.

* East Coast people, I recommend you take at least one day out of work as well. At the very least: leave work early. At the very most: quit.

The other thing about the schedule is that it may have an impact on your regularly scheduled programming. I once nearly had a mini stroke on a Friday night, when The Amazing Race’s Phil Koeghan announced “When the The Amazing Race returns on April 1st….” In fact, I am not embarrassed to say that I actually think I physically gasped a little when I heard April 1st, and then promptly opened my nearest calendar and frantically counted how many weeks away April 1st was. I was so pissed at the NCAA that Friday night.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: I am 100% confident that CBS moved Survivor from its original home of 8pm on Thursday nights to 8pm on Wednesday nights a few years ago, simply because of all the strongly-worded hate mail and/or death threats I sent to their offices kindly asking that they not F*%k with me and my Survivor ever again.

5. When You Lose Your Office Pool To the Old Lady That You Work With’s 8 Year Old Great-Grandson

Who the hell even invited him, lady?

4. Having To Drink on Thursday and Then Having to Drink on Friday

Within 7 minutes of leaving work on the first Thursday of the tournament I am sipping on a cold beer, with a folder containing my 73 brackets, a blue highlighter and a red pen. I am cheers’ing with my co-workers, high-fiving that Dayton won the 12:15 game, and congratulating ourselves at still having a perfect bracket, even though only two games have finished.

At least, that is always what I imagine is going to happen, as I am driving twice the legal speed limit to rush to the crowded bar that is already full, and has nowhere for us to sit. We have to stand behind 6 burly construction workers, awkwardly exchange beer and money with the bartender while making sure to not disrupt the scary construction men, and not having a place to rest my 64 oz. Bud Light mug that I instinctively ordered.

Couple that with my highlighter typically dying after three games, and me losing my pen, and I am one miserable NCAA college basketball “fan.”

Then, I wake up on Friday feeling like shit. I promise myself that I will come home and watch the games in bed when I get out of work. By 9:20am I have already made plans to watch the continuation of round 1 at the exact same bar we were at the day before, and end up being double hungover on Saturday morning.*

*Afternoon

3. The Anxiety During the Final Seconds of Nearly Every Game

Everyone may say they love a “good game,” but that is really just bullshit. If I have Marquette in the final four, I want them to win by 91 points, every game, and I will not be happy if they are letting their opponents within 20 points at any point throughout the game.

Washington Redskins aside, if I ever drop dead during a sporting event, it will most certainly be during the final seconds in a semi-meaningless #12 vs #5 seeded game in which I have the underdog making the Sweet Sixteen in one of my 37 pools.

2. When You Are Doing Great But Someone Else is Doing a Little Better, But You Can’t Catch Up To Them No Matter What Happens.

When you are crushing the office pool, nailing upset after upset, and convinced that you have a victory in the bag. Then you find out that someone else is doing one point better than you, but has the EXACT SAME FINAL 4, FINAL 2, AND CHAMPION AS YOU. You have all been there, and know how devastating it can truly be to one’s mental health.

 

1. Risking Jail Time

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I don’t know what state you are from, but in most states, participating in an NCAA Tourney office pool is technically “illegal” if you play for money. (Not that any of us at my workplace play for money, State, we just play for fun.) This may be the stupidest, most ridiculous law ever, and if my place of employment ever got questioned for participating in a “fun only” NCAA office pool, (and they are looking for “the ringleader”), everyone’s fingers will snap off of their hands for collectively pointing as enthusiastically as humanly possible at my face.

If you are anything like me, today and tomorrow you will be prancing around your office building looking more professional and important than you do all year. Carrying folded up papers, envelopes, binders, like 5 pens, and whispering into co-workers ears, as if you are inviting them into an underground tunnel that leads to the lost treasure of the Sierra Nevada…. Is that something, or am I just naming a beer? It sounds so right and so wrong at the same time, but I am literally too lazy to Google it.

I went into a co-worker’s room today, one of which I have not been in all year. I actually think the last time I spoke to her was when I barged into her room on March 14th, 2016 demanding her to stop what she was doing, fill out my bracket that she knows nothing about, and order her to have her completed bracket for me BY NOON on Thursday. The sooner the better.

If you include all the other office pools I may or may not “ring lead”:

– Celebrity Death Pools
American Idol Fantasy Leagues
The Voice Fantasy Leagues
Survivor Drafts
Big Brother Drafts
Big Brother Canada Drafts
Big Brother UK Drafts
-Superbowl Squares
Ink Master Drafts
-The Bachelor/Bachelorette Drafts
-Over/Under on how long the newest Bachelor/ette couple will stay together
Amazing Race Drafts
– Power Ball “Group Buy-Ins”
-Mega Millions “Group Buy Ins”

I would be in jail for life without the eligibility of parole, if, indeed, money was at stake, which it is not. Because that would be unlawful.

 

… fine, and Project Runway Drafts 🙁

So, those are the reasons why the next two weeks are going to completely suck. But, also the reason why I am going to hopped out of bed this morning like a giddy middle school girl getting dolled up for her first Justin Bieber concert.

 

Best of luck with all of your pools, and enjoy the Madness.

-Ryan

P.S. If anyone would like to participate in a Dancing With the Stars: Season 2Fantasy League, hit me up by Monday.