Judge David Johnson is BLANK-ing awesome.
Our review of The Best Of Match Game, published February 20th, 2010, is also available.
Get ready to match the stars!
The greatest game show ever made finally gets a digital treatment and, fellas, Brett Somers has never looked better! (If that is Brett; it's hard to tell who's behind those gigantic glasses.)
Facts of the Case
In 1973, America was incalculably blessed when NBC debuted Match Game a sexier, retooled update from the 1962 The Match Game. The basic premise of trying to match answers with celebrities was intact and Gene Rayburn returned to host, but everything else was profoundly different from the laid-back, buttoned-up tone of the original.
Now, contestants had to match a panel of six "celebrities," and eventually match one celebrity to land anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000. Gene was back, but set free from the shackles of a more conservative game show environment, turned on the goofiness. Truth is, he had to, in order to keep up with the raucous celebrity panel that collectively felt that sitting in rows of three gave them license to say whatever popped into their heads.
Contestants were given a jokey sentence by Gene, which would conclude with a BLANK that they had to fill in. Then the celebrity panel would offer their suggestions for the missing word, the matches would be tabulated and the contestant with the most matches would try and match a celebrity one-on-one for big money. Now that's all well and good, but in this game show, the contestants and their dreams of wealth were merely an after-thought.
I know you've been clamoring for this release. Well, just in time for Christmas, BCI Eclipse has granted your wish, offering up the finest stocking stuffer anyone can ask for: hours of fun with Charles Nelson Reilly. Match Game is, essentially, 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness babbling by third-rate celebrities from the late mid-to-late '70s, packaged as a game show. That's meant as a compliment, by the way.
For some reason, Match Game is supremely watchable. Maybe it's the far-out fashion sense (Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly were clad in some costumes that were likely illegal in the Netherlands at the time). Or perhaps the funk music that sounded less like a game show theme and more like the score to a film with the word "squirt" in its title. That's all great, but what floats my boat is the incoherence of the "stars." Maybe some of these folks were big back in the day, but I've never heard of most of them. The panel did have a few standouts: M*A*S*H cast members would show up from time to time, Steve Allen drops by in a few episodes, and a young and particularly bodacious Jamie Lee Curtis lends her talents to the proceedings in '79. But for the most part, I think we were dealing with people who felt like they were celebrities and, enabled by Gene Rayburn, a far-too-obliging studio audience and an ego-stroking intro, took it upon themselves to let fly jibberish.
Seriously, there must have been alcohol or prescription medicine or a combination of both at work behind the scenes (in an interview on the disc, Brett admits that she and Charles dabbled in the sauce here and there prior to filming), because most of the jokes range from nonsensical to embarrassing. But that's what ultimately makes Match Game so compelling, seeing which celebrity will crash and burn the worst! Maybe it's Robert Walden so transparently coming on to a contestant. Or Brett giving yet another unintelligible answer that would cost some poor schmuck real money (was there a worse panelist in Match Game's history?) Perhaps Bill Daily striking out over and over and over with inappropriate remarks.
Now Richard Dawson, on the other hand, was the man. He actually brought common sense and a viable sense of humor to the games that made him an audience and contestant favorite; he was the go-to guy for the head-to-head challenges nearly every time. And the guy actually wore a puffy shirt!
This set brings together 30 episodes, ranging from the 1973 pilot to 1980 installments. The sweet spot for Match Game is the 1974-1978 run, which featured Brett, Charles and Richard at their prime. The early shows generally clamped down on the bawdy humor and audience reaction, making them significantly less fun than successive episodes. My favorite moment of this set: a young, super-hot Kirstie Alley as a contestant who seemed to loathe the self-importance of the celebrities she would eventually eclipse.
The shows look very good, considering their age. The quality has been cleaned up as well as it could be, outpacing the original broadcast look I'm sure. Each disc sports a "Best Moments of Match Game" feature with Brett Somers, which is simply a roundup of highlights from the shows on the respective disc, illuminated by Somers. On Disc 4, the extras are meatier with a tribute to Gene Rayburn, the 1962 pilot of The Match Game, a photo gallery and lengthy, insightful interview with Somers. MIA: the infamous Rayburn Freudian slip, merely alluded to by Somers.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Be warned—I had a smattering of audio synch glitches here and there on playback.
I love Match Game, in all its groovy, incoherent, pipe-smoking, neck-scarf wearing, double entendre-pimping glory. If you you're BLANK and are looking for a good BLANK then you should check this BLANK out. Mother BLANKer.
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• "Best Moments of Match Game"
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