Mill Creek Entertainment // 1973 // 660 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daryl Loomis // February 20th, 2010
The doctor said to the patient, "Madam, if you want to ring for the nurse, pull on this cord, don't yank on my BLANK."
Do you know what's missing from game shows these days? Sexual harassment. Every time I watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and an attractive guest sits down, Regis doesn't hit on her. Makes a guy sick, you know what I mean? That's why Match Game is such a breath of fresh air to the niceties of modern contest programming. You think host Gene Rayburn cared if he offended a contestant? I have two vodka tonics right here saying you're wrong. You think it made any difference that he was about as appealing as a wet poodle? I have two more; double or nothing. No sir, Rayburn just plowed right ahead, bad suits and all, hitting on contestants and the celebrity panel without prejudice.
Match Game was a great show, not because of the quality of the game itself, but because of the way Rayburn conducted the show. I hadn't watched this show in two decades and it's exactly as enjoyable as I remember it; there's never been a better game show. There have been harder ones, but this was never about the difficulty of the questions, which were closer to bad gags than decent trivia. That never mattered, because the show's charm lays completely in the banter of the celebrity panel, whether making fun of each other or the contestants.
This was a complete overhaul of the mid-'60s original Match Game, also hosted by Rayburn. The change was pointed mostly at adding comedy whenever possible without totally undermining the game, which is why they were there, after all. Producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman did a great job with the concept. THe focus was on common sense answers to sometimes strange questions, showing oblivious celebrities attempting to recover from their stupidity. If the contestants are brave enough, which they mostly aren't, even they get the opportunity to take a few shots, though they'd better expect to get it back in kind. The best contestants could really bring it. Brett Somers (who was brilliant, contrary to the opinion of our own Judge David Johnson), Richard Dawson, and the great Charles Nelson Reilly became the regulars for good reason. They could trade barbs with the best, they wore the nuttiest outfits (did Brett Somers and Elton John share a closet?), and their chemistry made the show. Some of the lesser-used celebs were pretty great too, though. Betty White and Marcia Wallace are my two favorites, but you can't really go wrong with Vicki Lawrence and Jack Klugman, either. Even at their worst, the celebrity panel made for a thousand eye-rolling moments. When you're booking people like pitcher Don Sutton or "entertainer" Burt Convy, you're asking for some pretty serious stupidity.
These special idiots got the honor of the first chair on top, so in case they said something really dumb there would be five opportunities for burns. Next to that person was Somers in the center, followed by Reilly, and the two fed off each other magically. On the bottom row, below the idiot, sat the eye candy, which included a very young Jamie Lee Curtis and Joann Pflug (who fans of the MASH television show will recognize as the aptly-named Lieutenant Dish from an early episode). Dawson sat next to her, angled so he could watch, and the final seat was occupied by the wittiest non-regular, since all the easy jokes are already taken by that point. White and Wallace both sat here.
I enjoy this show for the jokes, the clothes, and the ridiculous music. I love the fact that, no less than twice on this collection, it becomes perfectly clear that a contestant is going home with a panelist (one of those contestants is Kirstie Alley, oddly enough, who is all over Robert Pine of CHiPs fame). If you want a hard game, play Trivial Pursuit; if you want good TV, Match Game is where it's at.
Mill Creek has been reissuing the old BCI Eclipse catalog and the game shows are up. The Best of Match Game is a direct port of the original release, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The thirty episodes of NBC's landmark game show are laid out over four discs. Firstly, I am shocked and thrilled at how nice these episodes look at over thirty years old. A lot of television, even into the late '80s, looks awful, but these look really great. It's not perfect; it definitely shows some signs of age. The garish colors are all in tact, however, and there is a consistency of image quality throughout the nine years the set spans that is nice to see. The sound is mono, so it's nothing special, but there's little noise and the dialog is perfectly clear. A surprising number of extras round out this classic set. We have over an hour of interviews with Brett Somers spread out over each of the discs, with the bulk on the final disc. Additionally, we get a clip show that features some of the more outrageous moments in the history of the show, a featurette about the greatness of Gene Rayburn, a photo gallery, and the original 1962 pilot of the first series. As you will see, this was a very different kind of show.
Seriously, if you can't appreciate Richard Dawson asking Joann Pflug, flat out, if she carries nude pictures on her, then I don't even know who you are anymore.
And now, for your Super Match question, worth $500 if you can match Gary
Burghoff. Ready? Here it is: BLANK guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Daryl Loomis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 660 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episode