Sunday, December 16, 2012

2 Classics reborn: The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (1983-4)

When Hershey's invented their Reese's family of peanut butter cup products, their ad campaign touted the union of "two great tastes that go great together". NBC tried doing the same by reviving a pair of classic game shows as a 1 hour entity, and it went down in flames.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour debuted on Halloween in 1983, and maybe that was a bad sign in and of itself. Original Squares host Peter Marshall had just finished a run with Fantasy, the first new series for producer Merrill Heatter without newly retired partner Bob Quigley, but was not asked to return to the tic-tac-toe game that made him a television icon, denying him the opportunity to work with good friend Gene Rayburn. Instead, Mark Goodson went outside the box and hired ex-Sha Na Na frontman Jon "Bowzer" Bauman to inherit Marshall's role as the "Master of the Hollywood Squares". Big mistake. Take away the grease and the basso profundo voice, and Bauman looked like just another guy doing a game show for the first time. He just didn't look right filling Marshall's role, and whatever friendship he'd cultivated with Rayburn over the years when he was a panelist on Match Game had dissolved. Less than a year later, this hybrid series was cancelled.

Incidentally, Bauman was going solo on a syndicated show, The Pop 'N' Rocker Game, which aired on weekends in fewer homes than his NBC gig, and, yep, that too was axed after 1 season. After that, Bauman was hired as one of VH1's first on-air personalities, and lasted a couple of years there. Today, he's a bloated shell of his former self doing the nostalgia circuit. Rayburn passed away a few years back, and is up in game show heaven with a couple of the panelists in this episode, long-time pal Charles Nelson Reilly & Phyllis Diller.

Uploaded by Blackwood Company.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

I thought the idea to combine the shows was solid - but Peter Marshall should have been included.

I noticed a lot of soap stars were a part of the line up!

Never heard of the "Pop & Rocker Game" but I do remember Bauman appearing on VH-1 after this. In fact back in that channel's infancy, many experienced radio DJs were hosts - like Scott Shannon - who hosted the enormously popular Z-100 Morning Zoo in NYC.

hobbyfan said...

And Shannon can be seen now on Dish Nation, along with partner Todd Pettengill and friends.

I reviewed Pop & Rocker over at Saturday Morning Archives a while back. Look for it under "Game Time".