Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Classic TV: The _______ Pyramid (1973)

There's a reason for the blank in the subject line. The long running Pyramid franchise, now controlled by Sony, began as The $10,000 Pyramid, which launched in March 1973 on CBS, and hosted by American Bandstand host-producer Dick Clark, in a rare case of an MC working two shows on separate networks concurrently. As time wore on, inflation raised the dollar amounts from $10,000 to $20,000, then $25,000, and finally, $100,000.

However, CBS was unable to sustain Pyramid, and dropped it, resulting in ABC picking up the series, enabling Clark to appear on their network six mornings a week. A syndicated $25,000 Pyramid, hosted by the inestimable Bill Cullen, bowed in 1974, and when it was decided that Pyramid would be back on the network, the word New was added to the title to avoid confusion with the syndicated evening version.

In the 80's, before he became the 3rd "master of the Hollywood Squares", singer-actor John Davidson (That's Incredible) hosted a syndicated version of $100,000 Pyramid, which didn't have the same kind of success. Viewers had trusted Cullen, and grew to trust in Clark. At the time, Davidson was still an unknown commodity as a game show host. After this version ended, the Pyramid was shut down until 2002, when it was revived, sans dollar amount in the title, with another singer, Donny Osmond, trying his luck. Osmond lasted two years.

Not long ago, GSN entered the picture. The Sony-owned cable network tapped Mike Richards as host, but this version lasted just 40 episodes, or two months, and was quickly cancelled. Reruns currently air on weekends on GSN.

The game is as simple as it gets. Six topics, 6-8 questions to be answered in under a minute. The winning team (one contestant, one celebrity) would move to the Winner's Circle. The GSN version capped at $10,000, going old school, which may have contributed to its sudden demise.

Let's go back to 1973 and the $10,000 Pyramid.

Ah, those were the days.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

Boy does this show bring in the memories!

I used to watch this when I was home from school for lunch. It aired after Price is Right IIRC. If I'm misremembering, it's because I am certain I saw Pyramid as soon as the other was over.

This show was a lot of fun - and I thought it funny how the prize got larger. 10K just isn't what it used to be. These days it'd have to be the 500K pyramid. Maybe even a million dollar one!

hobbyfan said...

They took the price tag off the last two incarnations so they could stand on their own. Unfortunately, that didn't work, as I noted. GSN fumbled with the last edition, and Sony, then, won't be in a hurry to bring it back.

The viewers sent their message, as if this was a revival of a primetime show. Pyramid doesn't work without Dick Clark. Period.