Saturday, March 28, 2009
A happy but long buried memory: coming home from grade school a little after three each day and catching The Match Game in progress.
One of the great things about our newly updated cable is the inclusion of the Game Show Network. That enabled me to eagerly seek out reruns of The Match Game, just to see if that memory lived up to the hype. I wasn't dissapointed.
The Match Game was more like a cocktail party at your house than a true game show. Irreverant guest stars, risque but not dirty questions, a boisterous and vocal crowd, a host willing to tell the stars to stifle it or call a contestant's answer "dumb", and of course Gene Rayburn's signature Sony ECM-51 telescoping microphone.
'My' era of Match Game featured McLean Stevenson of M*A*S*H as a staple, but thanks to GSN I'm now able to craft a much better lineup. I'd take Richard Dawson in seat five, an able and quick witted star with a knack for entertaining the crowd. Charles Nelson Reilly would be in seat three, with Fannie Flagg in seat six. (forget Patti Desucht (sp?)).
You HAVE to keep Brett Sommers, wife of Jack Klugman, front and center in seat two. That leaves two slots open. One I'd like to see filled with Bill Dailey from The Bob Newhart Show, who just excudes humor on TMG. The last one I'd grudgingly rotate between whatever star wanted to come on the show and plug their movie, but my eyes certainly wouldn't mind seeing Gina Hecht of Mork and Mindy sitting up there as often as possible.
I'd love to see another revival of TMG, but it probably isn't going to happen. Once they crossed into the late '80's all bets were off and the answers slipped from naughty but proper into straight raunch. That's fine in context, but half the fun of the show was thinking dirty and then being forced to come up with a clean reply.
And besides, I have to admit its fun playing along and trying to figure out the social context. Answers that are glaringly obvious in 2009 (or 1979) aren't in existence in '73 and '75, and personalities and news items from '76 are now lost to the ages. And I dig the contestants who say they moved west to be an actor or a singer, full of confidence and certain success. In a way it's sad of course, to know that Rita Mae McDonald never did win that Emmy she desired, but it's also fun to speculate on whether she at least carved out a living in the field.
It's a bleepin' time machine is what it is.
Check it out, twice a day, on the Game Show Network.