Steve Eighinger

The concept and the quizmaster were always important

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 31, 2018 7:05 am

Some of my favorite TV-viewing hours growing up were spent watching game shows.

In fact, some of my favorite adult viewing has been spent watching game shows.

I'm not sure if it was the concept of the game show in question, the overall entertainment value or maybe the host, but I've always been semi-addicted to these things. If I had to pick a personal top 10 game shows of all-time, these would be it:

10. "The Gong Show": Technically, this was probably more of a (lack of) talent show than game show. One crummy performer after another tried not to get gonged (eliminated) by a cast of judges that often included the likes of borderline celebrities Phyllis Diller, Jamie Farr and Rip Taylor.

9. "Name That Tune": Rebooted several times through the years, the show always boiled down to identifying a song in as few notes as possible.

8. "Let's Make A Deal": This venerable concept has been around, in one version or another, since the early 1960s. Original and longtime host Monty Hall was one of the first true game-show superstars.

7. "Password": This clue-driven format enjoyed a number of the finest quizmasters in the business, including Allen Ludden (who met future wife Betty White on the program). Other hosts were Tom Kennedy, Bert Convy and Regis Philbin.

6. "Family Feud": There have been several versions, but the best was when Richard Dawson served as host from 1976 to 1985.

5. "You Don't Say": The object was to convey the name of a famous person by giving clues, leading to words that sounded like part of the person's name.

4. "The Dating Game": The original matchmaking game show was introduced in 1965. Longtime host Jim Lange was a star, and Chuck Woolery, who hosted a reboot in the 1990s, was also Hall of Fame material.

3. "Wheel of Fortune": Few may remember the same Chuck Woolery was first to ask contestants if they would like to buy a vowel or that Susan Stafford was the first letter turner. Pat Sajak took over for Woolery in 1981 and continues to host the show. Stafford's replacement, Vanna White, is also still on the show.

2. "The Newlywed Game": Although the show ran for 34 years, its finest moments came during its first decade or so -- in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- when it was must-see TV. Originally hosted by the always-likable Bob Eubanks, this is the game show that introduced audiences to the term "whoopee" at a time when all TV programs carried a strong "G" rating.

1. "Jeopardy!": Incredibly, this show dates to 1964 and has been on the air uninterrupted since 1984. Current host Alex Trebek, 78, has been with the program for 35 years and is under contract through at least 2020. He was preceded by Art Fleming, meaning only two men have served as quizmaster over parts of six different decades. The big drawing card of the show finds a backward format for contestants, who must provide the question to an answer instead of vice versa.