Friday, June 23, 2017

A Classic Reborn: The Gong Show (2017)

Chuck Barris passed away back in March, but, trust me, he'd be very proud of the new Gong Show.

Gong becomes the latest classic to be resurrected at ABC, following Sony stablemate The $100,000 Pyramid, and Fremantle's reworkings of Goodson-Todman legends To Tell The Truth & Match Game. Actor-comedian Will Arnett ("The Lego Batman Movie", ex-Arrested Development) not only was one of the judges on opening night, but also serves as executive producer. The MC duties were entrusted to "legendary British comedian" Tommy Maitland (actually Mike Myers, ex-Saturday Night Live, whose makeup turns him into a cross between Benny Hill and Robin Williams), who keeps the show moving at a faster pace than Barris and previous successors ever did.

The judging scale is now 0-10, instead of 1-10, so you don't need to be gonged to get a 0 score, as was demonstrated in the opener. Airing at 10 pm (ET), just like Comedy Central's take on the series 9 years ago, allows for more risque acts to appear, the kind of envelope pushing that Barris wanted to do 40 years ago, but fought with censors at NBC because his was a daytime show (with a syndicated night edition). In all, this was silly, but fun.

Sony offers the trailer:

Why did I invoke Benny Hill? There's a point in the show where Maitland uses a open hand salute, a la Hill's Fred Scuttle persona, during an act. Watch it On Demand, and you'll see what I mean.

Rating: A.

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