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Monday, July 2, 2018

Match Game 45

Match Game 73 made its debut on CBS 45 years ago today.  The debut was actually delayed a week or so because of the Watergate hearings.

Back in March,  I wrote about the 45th anniversary of the debut of the $10,000 Pyramid and called it a game changer-- the return of big money to daytime TV.  Match Game, too, was a game changer, but a different type.

It was filled with double entendres and risque humor.  Host Gene Rayburn was the first to call celebrities' and contestants' responses as "rotten" if the shoe fit.  In several interviews, Rayburn said he had to emphasize the humor because it was such a lousy game.  Let's face it.  It all came down to dumb luck and choosing the easier question.  Responses were common sense, and when in doubt, just make a boob joke.  By the way, the Buzzr network recently replayed premiere week, and it took only a few days in to the run for the boob jokes to appear.

Weak game play aside, Match Game 73 was sheer genius.  First of all, Johnny Olsen was the best game show announcer.  Ever.  The fun music would start.  The light rack with the logo would illuminate then fly out of the screen. Gene would make some sort of goofy entrance.   It might be one of the best game show openings in TV history.  Rayburne started using that long, skinny, telescoping microphone a few years in to the run.  Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly were underratedly funny.  The set was a burst of orange.  Contestants would rotate in and out on a turntable.  Producer Mark Goodson loved his sets to feature bright colors.  His reasoning that while channel surfing, you would stop on something bright, colorful and visually interesting.

It was the show you rushed home from school to see, and the one you talked about with your friends the next day.

Match Game lasted 7 years on CBS and another few in syndication.  There was a night time version, and you were able to watch 10 new episodes a week.  All those shows took a toll.  By 76 or 77, you could see much of the energy was gone.  Everyone burned out.

I still manage to catch a few episodes a week, and it still makes me laugh