Writer’s Workshop: Blank Blankety Blank

So, here is one of the prompts for today:

Write a blog post inspired by the word:

Image by BRRT from Pixabay

I finally decided that Kat had intended the word to be “blank,” so here we go…

When I was younger, I loved game shows. Any time I was home during the day, such as when I was “sick,” I’d watch the game shows on TV during the day. In the early ’60’s, there were games like Concentration, Password, Seven Keys (that’s from the ’50’s, and I still remember it), and The Price Is Right. In 1962, they came up with a new game show called The Match Game. It was hosted by Gene Rayburn (who graduated from the same Chicago high school as my mother-in-law, as it happens) and featured two teams, with a celebrity and two contestants on each team. Rather than trying to explain how the game was played, here’s the original episode.

It lasted on NBC until about 1970, then was taken off in favor of shows like Wheel Of Fortune and High Rollers, and I was heartbroken. CBS brought it back in 1973 and changed the game a lot. Now, instead of two teams with a celebrity and two contestants, there were two contestants attempting to match six celebrities. The question went from ones like “Name a Major League Baseball team” to questions where the celebrities and contestants (usually) had to fill in a blank. In keeping with the times (the Swingin’ Seventies), the questions were put in a way (probably intentionally) that would guarantee answers that were double entendres. Here’s the pilot for that one.

One of the funnier (and, as it turns out, relatively clean) questions in the later version was “Robinson Crusoe put an ad in the paper: ‘For Sale, one knife. Only used on (blank).'” The contestant said “Friday,” and she matched five of the six celebrities. The sixth one answered “coconuts” and was razzed mercilessly by the other celebrities.

The Match Game will live on forever in reruns, even as almost all the celebrities (and probably half the contestants) are no longer among the living. They’ve tried bringing it back, hosted by Alec Baldwin, but I’m pretty sure that’s going nowhere.

There are times when I wish the old game shows would come back. But then, there’d be no one watching. Oh well…

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Blank Blankety Blank

    1. The ’60’s and ’70’s were a great time for game shows. I think every network had a morning’s worth at one time, and some even aired in prime time. Now the only two we get here are “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” It’s like with the soap operas: their target audience was housewives, and no one does that anymore (well, Mary did, but she was the exception rather than the rule). Oh, and kids who were home “sick.”

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    1. On summer vacations, I’d get up and watch game shows until mid-afternoon. There were some great ones, weren’t they? The original “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” “High Rollers,” “Card Sharks,” “Let’s Make A Deal,” “Concentration,” “The Match Game,” “The Price Is Right”… almost all have disappeared, like kids’ shows…

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  1. I saw that prompt and drew a blank…
    Your post brings back nice memories of hanging out at my grandma’s in summertime. We’d split a can of coke and watch Match Game nearly every afternoon on her black and white TV!
    Old much?

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    1. It depends whether you watched the 1962 version or the 1973 version. I watched and remember both. Those are some great memories. One of the many ways grandmas say “I love you”…

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  2. Watching game shows was THE best part about being home sick. Price is Right and Let’s Make A Deal were my faves. That Match Game looked like it could make a person ragey…how do you NOT match Rudolph!?!? That team deserved to lose. 😉

    So glad you ran with the blankety blank blank blank!

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    1. It didn’t help that the panelists were all either drunk or high on something. Brett Somers (who wasn’t on the panel for the first couple of shows, probably because her estranged husband, Jack Klugman, was) was kind of abusive some days. It was a great show. Sometimes Mary and I watch the reruns on Buzzr, because they were that good.

      My guess is that a few of the panelists were thinking about “The Night Before Christmas,” where Rudolph doesn’t make an appearance. Rudolph wasn’t added to the canon of reindeer until someone in the advertising department at Montgomery Ward’s (a Chicago company, by the way) added him. But yeah, I’m sure they heard Gene Autry sing about him…

      I had to improvise on that prompt, by the way, or I would never have participated this week. I had already done the thing I had won one, and the rest either called for a picture or kids…

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  3. Yes, those were some great times staying home from school and watching game shows. My sister and I used to play Concentration using playing cards. Loved that game!

    Lee

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    1. So did my brother. He was pretty good at it, too.

      It seemed like all three networks ran game shows all morning and half the afternoon (after the soaps) for the longest time. CBS still has a couple (“Let’s Mak A Deal” and “The Price Is Right”), but it’s a dying breed. Most are in syndication (e.g. “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”), but not every local station carries them anymore. Kind of a shame, really…

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  4. I watched part of the first Match Game video and talk about going back in time. Not the most exciting game show ever, but fun to remember how different things were back in the 60s. I’d forgotten about Peggy Cass and her sassy sense of humor. I don’t remember seeing this show in the 70s but maybe it was beyond my understanding back then. Trippy find here, John.

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    1. Peggy Cass probably made more money as a game show panelist than she ever made from acting. She was very intelligent. If you ever get a chance, watch some of her appearances on “To Tell The Truth” (I think most of them are on YouTube). She asked excellent questions that showed she had a pretty good understanding of the occupation the three contestants were purporting to practice (they had to guess which one it was), and more often than not she got it right. (You know who else was good on that? Tom Poston. You wouldn’t think so, given some of the characters he played on TV, but he was amazingly erudite.) I can’t remember if she was ever on “What’s My Line,” but she would have been great there.

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