Our Final Answer: TV's 19 Greatest Game Shows
THE GONG SHOW
This Chuck Barris production is like America's Got Talent's granddad. Contestants, often displaying dubious performance skills, were rated by a panel of celebrity judges drawn from the rung of the showbiz ladder that included Arte Johnson, Jamie Farr, and Rip Taylor. While Talent judges use a buzzing ''X'' to boot performers, here judges ''gonged'' bad talent off the stage.
We surveyed 100 people and asked, ''Name the top five reasons Family Feud belongs in this gallery'':
5. The family portraits in the set's side panels at the beginning of each episode are priceless.
4. There's really no way to prep for the show — basically just don't be brainless.
3. From Richard Dawson, to Ray Combs (pictured), to Louie Anderson, to Richard Karn, to John O'Hurley, and, most recently, to Al Roker — the game show has seen more hosts than Hugh Hefner has girlfriends.
2. Who doesn't get a cheap thrill out of chucking inanimate objects at the TV every time a player gives an idiotic answer?
1. We still have no idea who exactly these ''100 people surveyed'' are, or how the show finds them, but we're okay with that.
Clue: It's the game show that inspired one of the funniest parodies ever on Saturday Night Live.
Answer: What is Jeopardy?
The quiz show — which first aired in 1964 and consists of three rounds where contestants try to answer clues in the form of a question — has cemented its impact on pop culture by providing constant fodder for SNL.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
It's the longest-running syndicated game show in the U.S., but perhaps more interesting than that is the fact that cohosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White have been around for just about every spin of the wheel and every utterance of the phrase ''I'd like to buy a vowel'' since the syndicated version premiered in 1983.
The messiest — or should we say slimiest? — of all the game shows on our list, this Nickelodeon hit combined physical challenges (like spraying whipped cream into a cup your partner held in his mouth) and obstacle courses (which included sliding down a life-size tongue and spinning in a human hamster wheel). Ah, the good ol' days before shows like Wipeout were introduced!
DEAL OR NO DEAL
Howie Mandel, lots of hotties, briefcases that possibly led to lots of cash. What more could you have asked for in a game-show formula?
PRESS YOUR LUCK
We have nothing to say except: No whammies! No whammies! Just in case you have no idea what we're talking about, we'll explain. So, on the game show, which first aired in 1983, there were two rounds: In the first, players answered questions, and then in the second, they faced a big game board where they tried to have a rotating flashing light stop on a dollar or prize square and not on a ''whammy'' space, which would wipe out the prizes they'd earned.
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE
PREMIERED August 16, 1999
THE SCOOP Too bad the networks don't seem to be as daring in the regular season as they are during summer break. Although the world hadn't seen a successful prime-time quiz show in eons, ABC took a shot with a 13-episode trial run of the hit British series (with Regis Philbin taking on hosting duties), and viewers made it a smash here too. Perhaps, though, ABC should've polled the audience regarding its appetite for heaping portions of Millionaire; when the network shortsightedly began to overschedule the show after a promising regular-season debut, subsequent audience burnout left ABC's prime-time lineup filled with holes. Eventually, Millionaire was relegated to a syndicated daytime version (hosted by Meredith Vieira), yet its signature catchphrase — ''Is that your final answer?'' — lives on. —Michael Slezak
It's human tic-tac-toe! With celebrities! The goal for the two contestants — a male and a female, better known as Mister X and Miss Circle — was to win three squares in a row by deciding whether the star in the square was telling the truth when asked a trivia question.
Remember when contestants on a low-budget MTV matchmaking show whittled down possible mates by physical traits such as eye color? And remember when cohost Jenny McCarthy would yell at male players, yank their ears, and just be all-around crude on said series? No? Well, we do, and we secretly wish Singled Out — and the obese naked cupid who served as the face of it — would make a comeback.
Long before players raced around the globe for cash on The Amazing Race, they were racing around a grocery store on Supermarket Sweep. The game show, which originated on ABC in 1965, had teams of two answer grocery-related questions (e.g., unscramble this popular brand: "TUAN EJMAIM") to earn money toward a big sweep, where they were let loose in the store to stock up their carts.
Yet another one hosted by Alex Trebek! In order to win this game show, which was an update of the 1958-73 version called Concentration, contestants had to match cards on a screen that would subsequently reveal a picture puzzle (a.k.a. a rebus). Whoever solved the puzzle got a chance to win one of the cars placed prominently on display in the studio.
On this Dick Clark-hosted game show, two teams — each with one celebrity and one nonfamous person — faced off. One teammate gave the other clues for a certain category, such as ''Things That Are in Egypt.'' Clues would be words like ''pyramids,'' ''sphinx,'' and ''Cairo.'' Each round had six categories that, when stacked up, created the famous pyramid. Over the years, in many different incarnations, the total prize money ranged from $10,000 to $100,000.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
As host of the show for 35 years, Bob Barker made The Price Is Right — with iconic games like Plinko, Triple Play, and the Showcase Showdown — an institution. Even though he retired in 2007, opening the door for new host Drew Carey, the answer for ''What did you do when you were home sick from work or school?'' remains the same: ''I watched The Price Is Right,'' of course!
It was kind of like The Dating Game, but better. Before the show, a bachelor or bachelorette would choose from one of three members of the opposite sex to go out with, then the studio audience would pick whom they wanted the person to go out with. Host Chuck Woolery would interview the daters, and if the audience's pick matched the bachelor's or bachelorette's, the pair got another date for free! Ah, corporate-sponsored l'amour.
Fans adored this celebrity matching game primarily for its bawdy humor and banter between host Gene Rayburn and beloved panelists such as Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers, and Betty White.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
Game shows have always been about making a deal, but this was the mother lode! Longtime host Monty Hall did his best to trick contestants in the audience — who wore crazy costumes to try to get his attention — into taking a deal that was worse than the prize in their hands. Players, natch, were hoping to get more out of their deals.
THE NEWLYWED GAME
Newlywed couples answered questions to see just how well they actually knew each other. The show became famous for arguments between couples who maybe didn't know each other as well as they thought; it led to more than one divorce.
NAME THAT TUNE
Given a few notes from famous songs, contestants were challenged to, obviously, ''name that tune.'' This kind of format is certainly popular, as Name That Tune seems to have spawned Don't Forget the Lyrics and The Singing Bee.