About twice a year, a bunch of us game show freaks out here in LA get together to watch some classic tapes and DVDs. This Saturday I had such a get together and we got to see some great stuff. I had a bunch of late 70s NBC stuff, including High Rollers with Alex and Wheel with Chuck. If you thought the prizes on Wheel were gaudy, High Rollers took the cake with the most bizarre combinations of prizes in columns ("Elephant" and "Reno" was my personal favorite). The Wheel episdoe we watched wasn't much better, with Chuck ranting and raving about an intercom system up for grabs in the next round's prize showcase.
We also got a chance to watch some things that never saw the light of day, including the recorded-for-air (but never aired) ABC episodes of Deal or no Deal from 2004. Talk about night and day differences. The game was pretty much the same, with the exception of a lame play-in game that whittled 26 contestants down to one (shockingly, the main contestant was chosen by the host himself). The main game played exactly like the current version, but it was paced unbelievably slow. If that wasn't bad enough, the show had a horrible musical package that was more suited for something like Family Challenge rather than a high stakes game like Deal. And the coup de gras may have been the fact that the audience was the most disinterested of any audience in TV history. I mean, they looked and sounded like they were at a funeral. I suppose the saddest fact of all is that the one episode we watched had a $250,000 win, and since the show never aired, the poor guy probably never got paid.
The other lost gem we watched was the original Monopoloy pilot. There's not much good you can say about this pilot, other than the fact that is has great camp value. Peter was host and performed admirably, but what can you say about a show that has a little person dressed as Rich Uncle Pennybags running around the board in response to the roll of the dice? There was a second round of house/hotel buying that occurred in a commercial break following the 1st half of the 2nd round, and hostile takeovers were far more available. But the best part of the pilot may have been the soft shoe dance routine Peter, the little person, and the winning contestant engaged in as the credits rolled. That, and the fact that the pilot led off with an intro by Merv Griffing claiming that the show would one day be as big as Wheel and Jeopardy!
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