I went on youtube today to fetch something, and I ran into an old clip of The Dating Game. It was interesting to watch a few moments of this show that first aired in 1965. I glimpsed at clips of a young John Ritter, Steve Martin, Farrah Fawcett, and even Michael Jackson as a young child asking three young girls questions. Although I felt old for a moment as I watched these clips, it got me thinking…
America sure has had a love affair with game shows. These games started to hypnotize people during the golden age of radio and eventually carried over to television. The first radio game show was The Pop Question, which was a news quiz show. In the 40s, when TV first hit the airwaves, games like Spin to Win, Break the Bank, Hit the Jackpot, and Winner Takes All made us all realize that game shows were going to take over daytime TV.
The 50s gave birth to TV game shows such as Twenty Questions, What’s My Line?, Beat the Clock, You Bet Your Life, I’ve Got a Secret, Name that Tune, The Big Payoff, Strike It Rich, People Are Funny, To Tell the Truth, G.E. College Bowl, Play Your Hunch, and, yep, good old Bob Barker in The Price Is Right.
The 60s ushered in so many game shows that it would be impossible to watch them all. TV game shows like Beat the Odds, The Dating Game, Dream House, The Hollywood Squares, It Takes Two, Jeopardy!, Let’s Make A Deal, The Newlywed Game, Password, Reach for the Stars, Sale of the Century, Supermarket Sweep, What’s this Song?, and You Don’t Say all captured our attention as we played along. It was as if we were part of a never-ending contest.
They say the 70s were the year game shows. We were still tuned into shows like Password, The Dating Game, Jeopardy, and Let’s Make A Deal when new game shows like The $10,000 Pyramid, The $25,000 Pyramid, Anything You Can Do, Card Sharks, Celebrity Charades, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Dealer’s Choice, Double Dare, Family Feud, The Fun Factory, Gambit, The Gong Show, High Rollers, The Joker’s Wild, Musical Chairs, Shoot for the Stars, Three for the Money, Wheel of Fortune, Whodunnit, and You Don’t Say! Hit the airwaves.
I remember growing up with these game shows. I recall hearing “Will the real John Brown please stand up” in What’s My Line, or “You did not tell the truth, so you must pay the consequences.” In Truth or Consequences. And come on, how about “Come on down,” how can we not think of The Price is Right when we hear that phrase?
TV game shows are not like they used to be. I doubt if we will ever capture the magic that the old shows offered us. It was real entertainment. People played to have fun and be on T, and, yes win money, but really today’s TV game shows are simply about winning money, it seems like the fun has been stripped away, and one would have to ask, whatever happened to TV games shows?