When you were younger, were there any game shows that you religiously watched and wanted to be a contestant on?
Wow, what a good question for me. I’m a game show fanatic. It all started with Let’s Make A Deal, which I watched with my grandparents. (How about that Carol Merrill?) And since then, I’ve gorged on a steady diet of buzzers, gaudy lights, Teflon-coated hosts, and giddy contestants. In fact, during my summer vacations from school, when my days blurred into one another from boredom, watching game shows was often what kept me going. That and peanut butter.
So what game shows did I like? Nearly everything. Shows like Gambit, The Newlywed Game (which I hate now, by the way), Truth or Consequences, The Price Is Right, I’ve Got a Secret, High Rollers, The Joker’s Wild, Tattletales, Password, Card Sharks, Sale of the Century, Press Your Luck, Jeopardy!, Tic-Tac-Dough (how about that Wink Martindale?), Scrabble, and on and on and on. And on.
Of all the game shows, though, my absolute favorite was Match Game. I can’t imagine now why my parents and caretakers let me watch a show so focused on silly boob and derriere jokes, but they did. By the time I was eight, I already had an adult’s vocabulary, and I guess the actual adults wouldn’t have stopped to consider the appropriateness of a game show anyway. However it happened, I loved Match Game. I loved the silly Mad Libs-style guessing game, the B- and C-level celebrities (DebraLee Scott, anyone? Patti Deutsch?), the audience participation (the call of “Dumb Dora is so dumb” followed by the audience response of “How dumb is she”), the orange lights, the big spinning wheel, and the fact that Brian from Santa Cruz might win $5,000. I loved it all.
Most of all, I loved Brett Somers, who was—of course—a Match Game regular. She was quick-witted and smart. She made me laugh, but she also tried to help the contestants win. In my mind, that made her heroic. While some celebrities went for the completely offbeat (Patti Deutsch again comes to mind), undermining the interests of the contestants, Somers worked within the game—trying to be funny while trying to actually match the players. Oddly enough, my own sense of humor today owes more than a little bit to the benevelont bitchiness Brett Somers demonstrated every weekday on my TV.
So, my answer is Match Game. I watched religiously, and I wanted to be a contestant. Actually, I wanted to be one of the Match Game regulars. Believe me, I could’ve been Charles Nelson Reilly. And if any game show producers are out there, I still could be. Hee.
Happily enough, Game Show Network (oh, sorry, GSN) still airs Match Game re-runs. And, yes, I love Brett Somers as much as ever.