Sunday’s Den: 13 memorable TV game shows…….

13) Jeopardy!— I liked it better in the old days; Art Fleming was the host; he even appeared in Airplane 2- when the plane was in trouble, one of the passengers said “We’re in real jeopardy now!!!” and Fleming appears at the front of the plane with the Jeopardy! board behind him and one of the contestants says, “I’d like airplane disasters for $200, Art”

Jeopardy! Is low on this list because I never knew a lot of the answers.

12) Jokers’ Wild— Billed as “the game where knowledge is king and lady luck is queen” Jack Barry was the host. He’d get excited if a contestant spun and three jokers came up on the board: “joker, joker……..and a triple!!!”

Contestants answered questions based on categories determined randomly by a mechanism resembling a slot machine.

11) Deal or No Deal?— Howie Mandel hosted this show, and my dad loved watching it, not really sure why, but he did. He liked it so much that one year for Christmas I got him a Howie Mandel bobblehead; if you press the button, it asks “Deal, or No Deal?” The bobblehead is still sitting over there on the shelf.

10) $10,000 Pyramid— The game features two contestants, each paired with a celebrity; one teammate tries to guess a series of words or phrases based on descriptions given to them by their teammates. Whoever wins advanced to the big pyramid, where if the person got through all the categories in time, they’d win the $10,000 (or $50,000, in later versions of the show)

Dick Clark hosted this show for a long time; so did Bill Cullen. Some of the celebrities were a lot better than others at this game; pretty tough for the contestant to win any $$$ if their celebrity teammate was a nitwit.

9) Gambit— There were two teams of married couples competing; Wink Martindale was the host; there was a toss-up question, and if couple got it right, they could take the next card drawn, or give it to their opponent. If they got it wrong, the other couple controlled the card.

Each subsequent card was presented face-down and was turned up once the couple in control decided who should receive it. After a couple received any card (either by choice or by having it passed to them) and could potentially bust with another card, they could elect to freeze, preventing them from receiving any more cards.

Wink Martindale was excellent on this show; if a couple went over 21 and lost, he’d break out into his “…….too much, and the game goes to the Ostranders” bit. When I was 12, I loved this show.

8) Let’s Make a Deal— Monty Hall hosted this show, where the contestants would dress up in outrageous costumes and try to get Hall to pick them out. Once chosen, Monty Hall would give the person something of value, then ask if they wanted to trade it for whatever was behind one of three curtains on the stage; it might be a car, it might be canned squid.

There was no actual skill involved in the show, just the drama of seeing their reactions when they either won something big or got stiffed.

Remember the movie Last Vegas? The woman who played Kevin Kline’s wife in the movie is Joanna Gleason, who in real life is Monty Hall’s daughter.

7) Wheel of Fortune— Sad to hear this week that Pat Sajak is retiring as host after this season, his 41st year hosting Wheel of Fortune— the show has been on TV continuously since 1975.

Contestants solve word puzzles, similar to those in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel. Vanna White got famous simply by turning the letters on the board, and of course, because she seems nice and is beautiful.

Pat Sajak hosted a talk show in the early 80’s and left the daytime Wheel of Fortune; one of his replacements was Rolf Benirschke, who previously was a kicker for the San Diego Chargers.

6) The Price Is Right— When I was in high school, Price Is Right was on at 3:00, Match Game at 3:30. Spent lot of time watching those two shows.

Price Is Right is obviously still on, with Drew Carey having taken over for Bob Barker as host. Contestants compete by guessing the prices of merchandise to win cash and prizes; at the end there is a showcase, where the best prizes were won/lost.

In a 2007 article, TV Guide named it the “greatest game show of all time.”

5) Match Game— This show has had many different versions; the one I loved was on in the 70’s. Two contestants competed to match their answers with six celebrities on the panel, some of whom were there to provide comic relief.

Gene Rayburn was the host; Richard Dawson, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson-Reilly were the regular panelists (Brett Somers played Oscar Madison’s ex-wife in The Odd Couple).

I remember that two of the occasional celebrities were Joyce Bulifant and Elaine Joyce; their answers were usually terrible, hard to match.

4) Concentration— This show was on daytime TV from 1958-91; the hosts I remember were Hugh Downs (before he went to the Today Show), Ed McMahon and Bob Clayton.

This game took actual skill; you had to remember what was behind each square of the puzzle. If you guessed that #6 and #8 were the same and they were, they were taken off the board and parts of the puzzle were exposed. If you removed enough squares, it would be easier to solve the puzzle that was behind the squares.

There were 30 squares on the board; this game should come back on TV. 

3) Password— Allen Ludden hosted this show; he was married to Betty White. There is a great episode of The Odd Couple, where Felix/Oscar go on Password and play against Betty White and her partner.

Two teams, each composed of a celebrity and a contestant, try to convey mystery words to each other using only single-word clues, in order to win cash prizes.

In the Odd Couple episode, Felix guesses “Aristophanes” as an answer, which was horribly wrong. Oscar tells him it was a ridiculous answer. The next word comes up “ridiculous” and Oscar’s hint was……. “Aristophanes” to which Felix answers “ridiculous!!!”  Great TV.

2) Hollywood Squares— Nine celebrities sit in a huge tic-tac-toe board; contestants win a square when a celebrity answers the question— the contestant has to agree/disagree with their answer.

Peter Marshall was the host; his son Pete LaCock played for the Cubs for a few years. Once in a while, a contestant would screw up and choose the wrong square to play. Marshall would say, “I might have gone with Wally Cox to block, but this might work out for you”

Paul Lynde was most always the center square; Wally Cox upper left, Charley Weaver lower left, Rose Marie upper middle.

This show was on at 11:30 weekdays for most of my childhood.

1) The Gong Show— Chuck Barris invented The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game; he was later the host of The Gong Show, which was American Idol 20 years before, except virtually no one on the show had any talent.

Contestants would come on the show and perform; three celebrities were on the left, and if one of thought the act sucked (most of them did) they would bang the gong and the contestant left. Someone would win each show (there were some good acts) but the prizes weren’t much.

Chuck Barris was the star; he would say to someone who got gonged “I liked your act, but then again, I like gas fumes” It was bizarre TV, but it was funny as hell.

There was a regular who would appear every so often before commercials; the Unknown Comic. He wore a bag over his head, and would tell off-color jokes to Chuck, who would then send the show into commercials. “Chucky, Chucky, let’s dress up as a horse for Halloween. I’ll be the front end, and you just be yourself”

I was in college then, never scheduled any classes between 12-2; that’s when the Gong Show was on. 

Tuesday’s Den: Random Lists of 4…….

Best Quarterbacks:
John Elway
Tom Brady
Joe Montana
Roger Staubach (Patrick Mahomes soon to replace him)

Favorite Quarterbacks:
Kurt Warner
Matthew Stafford
Vince Ferragamo
Jared Goff

Best basketball players:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
T2 Michael Jordan
T2 Lebron James
Bill Russell

Las Vegas sportsbooks:
MGM Grand
South Point

Favorite TV shows:
Magnum PI
Law and Order
Odd Couple

Favorite Batman villains:
Riddler (Frank Gorshin)
Egghead (Vincent Price)
Mad Hatter (David Wayne)
Catwoman (Julie Newmar)

Favorite Musicians:
Bob Seger
Billy Joel
Pat Benatar
Van Morrison

Favorite dinners:
Spaghetti and meatballs
Scrambled eggs with bacon
Fried chicken with waffles

Favorite non-sports movies:
A Star is Born (2018 version)
Leap of Faith
Begin Again
Fabulous Baker Boys

Favorite sports movies:
American Underdog
Blue Chips

Favorite gambling movies:
Let It Ride
Molly’s Game
Lucky You

Favorite Kevin Costner movies:
For Love of the Game
The Bodyguard
Message In a Bottle
Bull Durham

Favorite Susan Sarandon movies:
The Client
Bull Durham
Ping Pong Summer
White Palace

Remaining bucket list items:
Rams’ home game at SoFi Stadium
LSU Saturday night home football game
Week at spring training, preferably Arizona
New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas

John Grisham books:
Pelican Brief
The Client
Runaway Jury
A Time to Kill

Favorite TV characters:
Lenny Briscoe, Law and Order
Oscar Madison, Odd Couple
Henry Blake, M*A*S*H
Jack Malone, Without a Trace

Friday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I made all the decisions……..

— Long time ago, the early 70’s, the NBA held a 1-on-1 contest, and aired the games at halftime of regular season NBA telecasts. This was in the early 70’s; I think they had two tournaments, then some of the better players refused to play, and the idea died.

They need to bring back a 1-on-1 tournament; it would be wildly popular.

This should happen in the summer, with each player designating a charity he is playing for. They would make lot of money for various good causes.

64 players; games would be up to 20, have to win by 3 points.

Lot of wagering opportunities, bracket pools, it would be fun.

Each NBA team would have to be represented by one player; the other spots would be determined by fan voting on the Interweb.

— Kids could go right from high school to the NBA. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, none of them went to college. They should put that rule back in.

— Major League Baseball should have a Hard Knocks-type program during spring training; it would give baseball more exposure, which it needs. Spring training has lot of dead time; would be ideal for a Hard Knocks-type show.

— NFL would have an 18-game regular season, only two preseason games; Super Bowl would be Sunday night of Presidents’ Day weekend.

— College football teams wouldn’t play I-AA opponents; SEC teams do this a lot. This year, Alabama is playing Chattanooga. Seriously? Go play a MAC team or a Sun Belt team, at least.

— Online poker would be made legal so the poker companies would advertise on TV and ESPN would start replaying the World Series of Poker again, like they used to. The stuff ESPN puts on in daytime on weekdays is mostly terrible. Mike Greenberg, Stephen A Smith both make around $6M a year, a tremendous waste of money.

Listening to talking heads in contrived arguments is a waste of electricity. Much rather watch people play cards, or replays of games, actual competition.

— I’d scrap Thursday night NFL games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving; I’d replace them with Monday night doubleheaders. Football wasn’t meant to be played on three days’ rest. 

— As far as college basketball transfers go, if you poach a transfer from a team, then you have to go play a game in that team’s gym. Most of the teams that poach transfers are way better than the teams they poach from anyway, but they often don’t have the onions to play road games.

VCU has that built into their coaches’ contracts; if the coach leaves for a bigger school, that team has to play a game at VCU. 

— I would take the radios out of NFL players’ helmets; coaches have six days to prepare their teams to play. Gameday should be the players’ day; let the QB’s call their own plays, which would make the game lot more exciting. QB’s calling the plays would make the game more fun.

— I’d eliminate the American/National Leagues and go to geographic realignment, which would reduce travel costs and invigorate regional rivalries. Going to 32 teams (which will happen soon) will make scheduling a lot easier.

— NBA playoff series would be best-of-3, with finals best-of-5. Less games, more drama; it is more interesting when the best team has a chance to lose. Would the NCAA tournament be at all interesting if a 16-seed played a #1-seed best-of-3?

Also, there have been 151 NBA best-of-7 playoff series where a team led 3-0; none of them have lost the series, only four of them played a Game 7. With that in mind, if a series gets to 3-0, it is over; it would make Game 3’s fascinating when one team led 2-0.

— I’d get rid of the Electoral College in our presidential election; whoever gets the most votes wins, just like in all the other elections.

— Would definitely move the NBA Draft Lottery back to a half hour before the actual draft; imagine the drama then? Lot of executives would have to think on their feet.

— You want to make baseball’s All-Star Game more interesting? Make it USA vs the World, and it’ll become a serious game fairly quickly. Probably too serious.

— Would like to make people happier; nowadays, there is so much anger in the world. There is a lot less tolerance of others than there used to be. You be you, and let others do what they do. Cheer the bleep up!!!!