Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Classic Reborn (Again!): Match Game (1998)

On Christmas Day 2012, GSN gifted fans of Match Game with an all-day (well up to the early evening hours, anyway) marathon which included episodes of the later incarnations. We discussed the 1990 edition earlier this week. Now, let's take a look back at the 1998 series, easily the least accessible edition of the franchise.

I say that because the series didn't play in my market, and so I didn't get to see it until that Christmas marathon. The panel was reduced from six celebrities down to five, a concept that had been introduced in an unsold pilot 2 years earlier. Former talk show host Michael Berger was tapped to MC this edition (actress Charlene Tilton fronted the 1996 pilot), but, to tell you the truth, he was boring. The fact that the producers opted to create a party atmosphere, such that announcer Paul Boland introduced the celebrities and the contestants before bringing Berger out, didn't disguise the simple fact that the franchise had the wrong man at the helm.

As was the case in the 1990 series, each panelist was in play for each round of the game. In this context, since three rounds were played, as opposed to four in 1990, the most points a player could earn would be 15. I get that they wanted the game to be a little more competitive, but it was offset by the even raunchier nature of some of the questions. It's like having your cake and trying to eat it in one sitting. It doesn't work that well.

To prove the point, Steve Sadler, Jr. gifts us with a sample episode.

While 1990 host Ross Shafer was a serviceable successor to Gene Rayburn, despite the fact that he was almost a dead-ringer for Jon Bauman, Berger simply looked out of place. Small wonder, then, that he hasn't been heard from since.

Rating: C.

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