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|Created by||Frank Wayne|
|Directed by||Jim Elson, Ira Skutch, Rodger Wolf, Mike Gargiulo (1962–69)
Marc Breslow (1973–91)
Randall Neece (1998–99)
Beth McCarthy-Miller (2016–)
|Presented by||Gene Rayburn (1962–82)
Ross Shafer (1990–91)
Michael Burger (1998–99)
Alec Baldwin (2016–)
|Narrated by||Johnny Olson (1962–82)
Gene Wood (1990–91)
Paul Boland (1998–99)
Steve French (2016)
|Theme music composer||Bert Kaempfert (1962–67)
Score Productions (1967–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||The Match Game: 1,760
Match Game 7x: 1,455 (16 unaired)
Match Game PM: 230
Match Game (1979–82): 525
Match Game (1990–91): 250
Match Game (2016–): 10
|Producer(s)||Jean Kopelman (1962–69)
Ira Skutch (1973–82)
Jonathan Goodson, Chester Feldman (1990–91)
Kevin Belinkoff (1998–99)
Scott St. John (2016–)
New York, New York (1962–69)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1973–82, 1998–99)
ABC Television Center
Hollywood, California (1990–91)
ABC Studio TV-24
New York, New York (2016–)
|Running time||22–26 minutes (1962–1999)
42–46 minutes (2016)
|Production company(s)||Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1962–82)
Sojourn Productions, Inc. (1962–69)
Celebrity Productions, Inc. (1973–81)
The Match Game Company (1981–82)
Mark Goodson Productions (1983–99)
Orion Television (1983–84)
The MG Company (1990–91)
MG Productions, Inc. (1998–99)
Triple Threat Productions (2016–)
Entertain the Brutes (2016–)
|Distributor||Jim Victory Television (1975–82)
Pearson Television (1998–99)
El Dorado Pictures (2016–)
FremantleMedia North America (2016–)
|Original network||NBC (1962–69)
ABC (1990–91, 2016–)
Syndicated (1975–81, weekly; 1979–82 and 1998–99, daily)
|Picture format||Black and White (1962–69, kinescopes)
Color (NTSC) (1962–69, videotapes)
480i SDTV (1973–1999)
720p HDTV (2016–present)
|Audio format||Mono (1962–84)
5.1 Surround (2016–present)
|Original release||The Match Game
December 31, 1962 – September 26, 1969
Match Game 73–79
July 2, 1973 – April 20, 1979
Match Game PM
September 8, 1975 – September 13, 1981
September 10, 1979 – September 10, 1982
July 16, 1990 – July 12, 1991
September 21, 1998 –May 1999
June 26, 2016 – present
|Related shows||Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour|
Match Game is an American television panel game show that premiered on NBC in 1962 and was revived several times over the course of the next few decades. The game featured contestants trying to come up with answers to fill-in-the-blank questions, with the object being to match answers given by celebrity panelists.
The Match Game in its original version ran on NBC's daytime lineup from 1962 until 1969. The show returned with a significantly changed format in 1973 on CBS (also in daytime) and became a major success, with an expanded panel, larger cash payouts, and emphasis on humor. The CBS series, referred to on air as Match Game 73 to start and updated every new year, ran until 1979 on CBS, at which point it moved to first-run syndication (without the year attached to the title, as Match Game) and ran for three more seasons, ending in 1982. Concurrently with the daily run, from 1975 to 1981 a weekly prime time version, Match Game PM, was also offered in syndication.
Match Game returned to NBC in 1983 as part of a sixty-minute hybrid series with Hollywood Squares, then saw a daytime run on ABC in 1990 and another for syndication in 1998; each of these series lasted one season. It returned to ABC in a weekly primetime edition on June 26, 2016, running as a summer replacement series. All of these revivals used the 1970s format as their basis, with varying modifications.
- 1 1962–69, NBC
- 2 Match Game 73–79 (1973–79, CBS)
- 3 Later revivals
- 4 Episode status
- 5 Unsold pilots
- 6 Reruns
- 7 Music
- 8 International versions
- 9 Merchandise
- 10 In popular culture
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The Match Game premiered on December 31, 1962. Gene Rayburn was host and Johnny Olson served as announcer; for the series premiere, Arlene Francis and Skitch Henderson were the two celebrity panelists. The show was taped in Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, NBC's largest New York studio, which since 1975 has housed Saturday Night Live, among other shows.
A team scored 25 points if two teammates matched answers or 50 points if all three contestants matched. The first team to score 100 points won $100 and played the Audience Match, which featured three survey questions (some of which, especially after 1963, featured a numeric-answer format; e.g., "we surveyed 50 women and asked them how much they should spend on a hat," a format similar to the one that would later be used on Family Feud and Card Sharks). Each contestant who agreed with the most popular answer to a question earned the team $50, for a possible total of $450.
The questions used in the game were commonplace: "Name a kind of muffin," "Write down one of the words to ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ other than ‘Row,’ ‘Your’ or ‘Boat’" or "John loves his _____." The humor in the original series came largely from the panelists' reactions to the other answers (especially on the occasional all-star episodes). In 1963, NBC cancelled the series with six weeks left to be recorded. Question writer Dick DeBartolo came up with a funnier set of questions, like "Mary likes to pour gravy all over John's _____," and submitted it to Mark Goodson. With the knowledge that the show couldn't be cancelled again, Goodson gave the go-ahead for the more risque-sounding questions – a decision that caused a significant boost in ratings and an "un-cancellation" by NBC.
The Match Game consistently won its time slot from 1963 to 1966 and again from April 1967 to July 1968, with its ratings allowing it to finish third among all network daytime games for the 1963–64 and 1967–68 seasons (by the latter season, NBC was the dominant channel in the game show genre; ABC was still an also-ran and CBS had mostly dropped out of the genre). NBC also occasionally used special episodes of the series as a gap-filling program in prime time if one of its movies had an irregular time slot. Although the series still did well in the ratings (despite the popularity of ABC's horror-themed soap opera Dark Shadows), it was cancelled in 1969 along with other games in a major daytime programming overhaul, being replaced by Letters to Laugh-In which, although a spin-off of the popular prime time series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, ended in just three months, on December 26.
The Match Game continued through September 26, 1969 on NBC for 1,760 episodes, airing at 4:00 pm Eastern (3:00 pm Central), running 25 minutes due to a five-minute newscast. Since Olson split time between New York and Miami to announce The Jackie Gleason Show, one of the network's New York staff announcers (such as Don Pardo or Wayne Howell) would fill in for Olson when he could not attend a broadcast.
On March 27, 1967 the show added a "Telephone Match" game, in which a home viewer and a studio audience member attempted to match a simple fill-in-the-blank question, similar to the 1970s' "Head-To-Head Match". A successful match won a jackpot, which started at $500 and increased by $100 per day until won.
Very few episodes of the 1960s The Match Game survive (see episode status below).
Match Game 73–79 (1973–79, CBS)
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In the early 1970s, CBS vice president Fred Silverman began overhauling the network's programming as part of what has colloquially become known as the rural purge. As part of this overhaul, the network reintroduced game shows beginning in 1972. One of the first new offerings was The New Price Is Right, a radically overhauled version of the 1950s game show The Price Is Right. The success of The New Price Is Right prompted Silverman to commission more game shows. In the summer of 1973, Mark Goodson and Bill Todman took a similar approach in adapting The Match Game by reworking the show, moving it to Los Angeles, adding more celebrities and increasing the amount of prize money that could be won (it was this show, along with The $10,000 Pyramid and Three on a Match of the same time, that reintroduced five-figure prizes for the first time since the quiz show scandals).
The result was the "all-new, star-studded, big-money" Match Game 73 for CBS, with Rayburn returning as host and Olson returning as announcer. The year in the title was updated on the New Year's Eve broadcast for the next six years. The game play for this version had two solo contestants attempting to match the answers given by a six-celebrity panel. Richard Dawson was the first regular panelist. Due to CBS News coverage of the Watergate hearings, the network delayed the premiere one week from its slated date of June 25 to July 2.
The first week's panelists were Dawson, Michael Landon, Vicki Lawrence, Jack Klugman, Jo Ann Pflug, and Anita Gillette. Rayburn reassured viewers of the first CBS show that "This is your old favorite, updated with more action, more money and, as you can see, more celebrities." The first few weeks of the show were somewhat different from the rest of the run. At first, many of the questions fit into the more bland and innocuous mold of the earlier seasons of the original series. In addition, many of the frequent panelists on the early episodes were not regulars later in the series but had appeared on the 1960s version, including Klugman, Arlene Francis, and Bert Convy, the last of whom would later be chosen as host of the show's 1990 revival before being diagnosed with a brain tumor which eventually took his life.
However, the double entendre in the question "Johnny always put butter on his _____" marked a turning point in the questions on the show. Soon, the tone of Rayburn's questions changed notably, leaving behind the staid topics that The Match Game had first disposed of in 1963 for more risqué humor. Celebrity panelists Brett Somers (Klugman's wife at the time) and Charles Nelson Reilly began as guest panelists on the program, with Somers brought in at the request of Klugman, who felt she would make a nice fit on the program. The chemistry between Somers and Reilly prompted Goodson-Todman and CBS to hire them as regular panelists; Somers remained on the show until 1982, while Reilly continued appearing through the 1983–84 and 1990–91 revivals, with a brief break in 1974–75 when Gary Burghoff, Nipsey Russell, and Rip Taylor substituted for him.
Reilly was late for the taping of two episodes; Goodson filled in for him for the first few minutes of one, and announcer Johnny Olson did the same on the other. Celebrity panelists appeared in week-long blocks, due to the show's production schedule. A number of celebrities, including Betty White, Dick Martin, Marcia Wallace, Bill Daily, Fannie Flagg, and Patti Deutsch were semi-regular panelists, usually appearing several times a year. Celebrity panelists also included personalities from other Goodson-Todman produced game shows, such as The Price Is Right's Bob Barker and Janice Pennington. The panelists were all seated in a strict order; the male guest panelist of the week, Somers, and Reilly sat in the top row from the viewer's left to right, and the female guest panelist of the week, Dawson (later a semi-regular panelist), and a semi-regular female panelist occupied the bottom row.
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Two contestants competed on each episode. On the CBS version, the champion was seated in the upstage (red circle) seat and the challenger (opponent) was seated in the downstage (green triangle) seat. On the syndicated versions, which had no returning champions, positions were determined by a backstage coin toss. The object was to match the answers of the six celebrity panelists to fill-in-the-blank statements.
The main game was played in two rounds (three on Match Game PM after the first season). The opponent was given a choice of two statements labeled either "A" or "B". Rayburn read the statement and the six celebrities wrote their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant verbally gave an answer. Rayburn then asked each celebrity, one at a time beginning in the upper left hand corner of the panel, to respond with their answer.
While early questions were similar to the NBC version (e.g., "Every morning, John puts [blank] on his cereal"), the questions quickly became more humorous and risque. Comedy writer Dick DeBartolo, who had participated in the 1960s Match Game, contributed broader and saucier questions. Frequently, the statements were written with bawdy, double entendre answers in mind. (One example was, "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest [blank].")
Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as Rayburn critiqued the contestant's answer. (For the "world's biggest" question, Rayburn might show disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag" and compliment an answer such as "rear end" or "boobs", often also commenting on the audience's approving or disapproving response.) The audience usually groaned or booed when a contestant or celebrity gave a bad or inappropriate answer, whereas they cheered and applauded in approval of a good answer. Sometimes, they howled at a risque answer.
The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges; for example, "rear end" matched "bottom" or a similar euphemism) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone on the celebrity panel. After one contestant played, the second contestant played the other question.
A handful of potential answers were prohibited, the most notable being any synonym for genitalia. In instances where a celebrity gave the censorable answer, the word "Oops!" was superimposed over the index card and the celebrity's mouth, accompanied by a slide whistle muting the spoken response.
Popular questions featured a character named "Dumb Dora" or "Dumb Donald." These questions often began, "Dumb Dora is so dumb..." To this, in a routine taken from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the audience would respond en masse, "How dumb is she?" This expanded to the generalized question form "[adjective]-[alliterative-name] is SO [adjective]...;" to this, the audience would respond, "How [adjective] is he/she?" Rayburn would finish the question or, occasionally, deride the audience's lack of unison and make them try the response again. Other common subjects of questions were Superman/Lois Lane, King Kong/Fay Wray, panelists on the show (most commonly Brett Somers), politicians, and Howard Cosell. Questions also often featured characters such as "Ugly Edna" (later "Ugly Ulfrea"), "Horrible Hannah/Hank," "Rodney Rotten," and occasionally "Voluptuous Velma." Some questions dealt with the fictitious (and often sleazy) country of "Nerdo Crombezia" or the world's greatest salesman, who could sell anything to anyone. Other questions hinted at more obvious answers based on the context of the question. For example, "James Bond went to an all night restaurant. When the waitress told him they were out of coffee, he ordered a blank." Because James Bond is a famous fictional secret agent, obvious answers might be "gun," "girl" or "martini."
Rayburn always played the action for laughs, and frequently tried to read certain questions in character, such as "Old Man Periwinkle" or "Old Mrs. Pervis." He also did the same with Confucius or Count Dracula. Regular panelist Charles Nelson Reilly, a Broadway director, often responded with comments such as "I like it when you act" and "That character was really very good. Along with the other two that you do," to the amusement of the audience.
In the second round, the contestants attempted to match the celebrities whom they had not matched in the first round. On the CBS version, the challenger always began the second round (unless that contestant had matched all six stars; in this situation, the champion selected from the two questions available). This meant that a champion who had only answered one question could be ahead of a challenger who had played both questions, rendering the final question moot. On the syndicated versions, the leader after a round played first in the next round. In case of a tie score, the contestant who had not selected their own question in the previous round made the selection in the tie-breaker round.
The first round questions usually had a number of plausible answers, while the second round questions were generally easier and were usually puns that were meant to lead to an obvious answer, in order to allow a trailing contestant to catch up. For instance, the definitive answer for "Did you hear about the new religious group of dentists? They call themselves the Holy _____" would be "molars."
On Match Game PM, a third round was added after the first season as games proved to be too short to fill the half-hour. Again, the only celebrities who played were those who did not match that contestant in previous rounds. In Match Game PM, the questions with the most obvious answers were typically used in the third round.
If the contestants had the same score at the end of the game, the scores were reset and the contestants played one tiebreaker question each, again attempting to match all six celebrities. On Match Game PM, or on the syndicated daytime show if time was running short, a time-saving variant of the tie-breaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants wrote their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers verbally. Originally, this included regulars Somers, Reilly and Dawson only, but when Dawson left the show, the canvass was expanded to include all six panelists in the usual order. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory. If there was still no match, which was rare, the round was replayed with a new question. On the CBS version, the tie-breaker went on until there was a clear winner. If it came to the sudden-death tie-breaker, only the final question (the one that ultimately broke the tie) was kept and aired.
The CBS daytime version had returning champions and the gameplay "straddled" between episodes, meaning episodes often began and ended with games in progress. On this version, champions stayed until they were defeated or won $25,000, whichever occurred first. Originally, this amount was the network's winnings limit; anything above that amount was forfeited, but the rule was later changed so that although champions retired after winning $25,000, they kept any winnings up to $35,000. During the six-year run of Match Game on CBS, only one champion, Carolyn Raisner, retired undefeated with $32,600, the highest total ever won on Match Game.
On the daily 1979–82 syndicated version, two contestants competed against each other in two games, with two new contestants replacing them afterward. The show was timed so that two new contestants appeared each Monday; this was necessary as the tapes of the show were shipped between stations, and weeks could not be aired in any discernible order. (This was a common syndication practice at the time, known as "bicycling.") Usually, three pairs of contestants competed in a total of six games over the five episodes for each week.
On Friday episodes which ran short, during the first season, a game was played with audience members for a small cash prize, usually $50. The game was played with regular panelist Brett Somers first. A word or phrase with a blank would be asked of Somers, and she would write it down on her card. Rayburn would then circulate amongst audience members who raised their hands to play, and if the audience member matched the answer Somers had written down, then they would win $50. Rayburn would continue picking on audience members until someone matched the answer. If there was more time left, the same game would be played with Charles Nelson Reilly responding to and writing down an answer for another audience member to guess. Rayburn sometimes seemed frustrated by this part of the show and with the answers given by some of the audience members; at the end of one episode, he was shown collapsed in one of the audience seats, seemingly exhausted.
Episodes of Match Game PM were self-contained, with two new contestants appearing each week.
The contestant who matched the most celebrities at the end of the game won the game and went on to play the Super Match, which consisted of the Audience Match and the Head-To-Head Match segments, for additional money. On the CBS version, the winner of the main game won $100.
A two-to-four-word phrase was given, with part of the phrase blank, and the contestant attempted to fill-in the most common response based on a prior studio audience survey. The contestant consulted three celebrities for suggestions, and chose their favorite of those answers or one of their own. The top three answers were then revealed in ascending order. The most popular answer in the survey was worth $500, the second-most popular $250, and the third most popular $100. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended. The idea for Family Feud was derived from the Audience Match.
Two Audience Matches were played on Match Game PM, for a possible total of $10,000, or $20,000 after the Star Wheel was introduced.
A contestant who won money in the Audience Match then had the opportunity to win ten times that amount (therefore, $5,000, $2,500, or $1,000) by exactly matching another fill-in-the-blank response with one celebrity panelist. Originally, the contestant chose the celebrity; later, the celebrity who played this match was determined by the Star Wheel. In the very start of the 1970s series, Rayburn read the question before the celebrity was chosen, but this was changed after a few weeks. The format of these matches was much shorter and non-humorous, typically requiring the contestant and celebrity to choose from a number of similar familiar phrases, for example, "Baseball _____" (baseball game, baseball diamond, etc.). The contestant was instructed that their response must be an exact match, although singular/plural matches were usually accepted, whereas synonyms were not.
The panelist chosen most often by contestants to play the Head-to-Head Match was Richard Dawson, who usually matched with the contestants that chose him. Dawson, in fact, was such a popular choice for the second half of the Super Match that the producers instituted a rule during 1975 which forbade contestants from choosing the same panelist for consecutive Head-To-Head Matches, in an effort to give the other celebrities a chance to play. After six weeks, however, the rule was discarded.
In 1978, the producers made a second attempt to ensure that each celebrity would receive a chance to play the Head-To-Head Match. Instead of simply choosing a celebrity, the contestant spun a wheel that was divided into six sections, each marked with a different celebrity's name. Once the wheel stopped, he/she tried to match against the indicated celebrity. If the wheel did not make at least one complete revolution, the contestant was required to spin again.
The introduction of the Star Wheel also brought about a change in the bonus payout structure. Each section included several gold stars, which doubled the stakes if the wheel stopped on one of them. The maximum prize was thus $10,000 on the daytime series, and $20,000 on Match Game PM.
When the Star Wheel was first introduced, each section contained five stars in a continuous white border, and the prize was doubled if the wheel stopped with its pointer anywhere in that area. Beginning with the premiere of the 1979 syndicated version, the wheel was re-designed so that each section had three stars in separate, evenly spaced squares; the pointer now had to be on a square in order to double the money.
Ironically, the wheel stopped on Dawson the first time it was used, inspiring several panelists (including Dawson) to stand up from their places and leave the set momentarily out of disbelief. Rayburn yelled, "Now wait a minute! Get back here!" He then got the four panelists to sit back down, after which guest panelist Mary Wickes said, "Do you know what that wheel cost us? And it's right back to Richard!"
The subsequent Ross Shafer 1990 version of the show used a redesigned version of the Star Wheel. The wheel itself was stationary, and the contestant spun the pointer on a concentric ring to determine which celebrity he/she had to match. The prize was doubled if the pointer stopped on either of two circles within each section.
Beginning in the summer of 1975, director Marc Breslow used a technique in which he combined two celebrities and/or contestants' faces by either superimposing one person's face or mouth on another person's head, or just simply combine two halves together. They were featured on a weekly basis during the CBS version and on almost every daily syndicated episode.
Staffing and ratings
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The 1973–82 versions were produced by veteran Goodson-Todman producer Ira Skutch, who also wrote some questions and acted as on-stage judge. Marc Breslow directed, while Robert Sherman was associate producer and head writer.
When CBS revamped Match Game in 1973 with more of a focus on risqué humor, ratings more than doubled in comparison with the NBC incarnation. Within eleven weeks, Match Game '73 was the most watched program on daytime television. By summer 1974, it grew into an absolute phenomenon with high school students and housewives, scoring remarkable ratings among the 12–34 age demographic. The best ratings this version of Match Game saw were in the 1975–76 season when it drew a 12.5 rating with a 15 share, higher numbers than that of some prime-time series; this was due in part to the fact that it had been paired with The Price Is Right, a hit in its own right, during this time. It surpassed records as the most popular daytime program ever with a record 11 million daily viewers, one that held until the "Luke and Laura" supercouple storyline gripped viewers on ABC's General Hospital some years later.
Every New Year's Eve, when the two-digit year designation in the Match Game sign was updated, there was a New Year's party with the cast and studio audience. Up to and including the 1977–78 changeover, a new sign was built each year. Coinciding with a redesign of the set, a new sign was built with interchangeable digits that could be swapped as the years changed. Additionally, this sign allowed for a "PM" logo to be attached for tapings of the syndicated program instead of using an entirely different sign.
In 1976, the show's success, and celebrity panelist Richard Dawson's popularity, prompted Goodson-Todman to develop a new show for ABC, titled Family Feud, with Dawson hosting. This show became a major hit in its own right, eventually surpassing the parent program. Feud was said to be based on Dawson's expertise in Match Game's Super Match, specifically the Audience Match segment of it.
Meanwhile, Match kept its high standing in the ratings despite a short-lived move ahead one half-hour during summer and fall 1975. In late 1977, however, CBS made a fatal mistake regarding the show's time slot. Noting a ratings boon resulted when Price and Match were paired in afternoons, a major hole in the schedule had developed in the morning slot that Price had left behind. In an attempt to resolve the crisis, CBS moved Match along with Price back to the morning time slot. However, because much of Match's audience was composed of students who were in school at that time of day, ratings began to sag and eventually free fall; many of these students did not return. As a result, Family Feud quickly supplanted Match as television's highest-rated game show.
CBS attempted to correct the problem on December 12, 1977, with a scheduling shuffle among Match, Price, and Tattletales. In a move that turned out to do even more damage, the network moved Match to its 1960s timeslot of 4:00 pm, a time slot which by this point many local stations were preempting in favor of local or syndicated programming. As a result, Match Game was unable to get the audience it once did in the 1960s at 4:00.
1978 changes and cancellation
On June 28, 1978, the "pick a star" format used in the Head-to-Head Match was replaced with the "Star Wheel." While the show's top prize could potentially be doubled and the new feature allowed more celebrities the chance to participate in the end game, it also eliminated what effectively was Richard Dawson's "spotlight" feature. Dawson, dissatisfied with the change and more focused on his role as host of Family Feud, left the panel on Match Game a few weeks afterwards.
On July 19, a new Match Game set was built by CBS, changed from the original bright orange to a new set with blue and white colors, as well as revamping the logo from the curved letters to a straight-line lettering it would use for the rest of the run. (This logo also forms the base of the 2012 English-language Canadian revival version's logo.) The newly designed Match Game sign meant that a whole new sign no longer had to be built each year as had been done previously. An attachment designating the year was simply taken off the end of the revamped Match Game '78 sign and replaced with a new one numbered '79 on New Year's Eve of 1978, which actually aired January 2, 1979, becoming Match Game '79. (An alternate attachment was used for Match Game PM.)
At 4:00 pm, the show trailed Feud, Price, and NBC's Wheel of Fortune, and it fell out of the top three game shows in 1979 for the first time in the CBS run (as opposed to a solid and twice top-3 hit in the 1960s). The 1,439th and final CBS episode aired on April 20, 1979 – however, the show did not air on April 5, causing the Friday episode from that week to air on April 9. The last nine aired episodes were culled together from three separate taping sessions, leaving six unaired.
On September 8, 1975 the first syndicated version, a weekly nighttime series dubbed Match Game PM premiered. The series, sold to many ABC affiliates (including the network's owned and operated stations such as WABC-TV in New York), was produced by Goodson-Todman and distributed by Jim Victory Television, G-T's syndication partner for Concentration.
Match Game PM was the first version of the game with self-contained episodes. The front game was originally played the same way as the daytime Match Game with two rounds of questions, but in the second season, a third round of questioning was added to fill time in the half-hour. The maximum score a contestant could achieve remained six points, with matched celebrities not playing subsequent questions.
Tiebreakers were conducted differently from the daytime version. A "Super-Match"-style question was asked, and the contestants wrote down their answers, then called on celebrities for a match. Originally, only Somers, Reilly and Dawson played in the tiebreaker, but after Dawson's departure in 1978, all six celebrities played.
Match Game PM's Super-Match used two Audience Matches, with the answer values combined and multiplied by ten for the Head-To-Head Match, with a maximum of $11,000 available. When the Star Wheel was introduced, that potential payout grew to $21,000 if a contestant spun a double.
Match Game PM ran until the end of the 1980–81 TV season. For its last two seasons, the show's affiliate count went down significantly due in large part to a daily syndicated version that debuted in September 1979, although some markets, like New York, kept both shows on the air. WCBS-TV ran the daily syndicated version as WABC-TV continued to air episodes of Match Game PM into its final season. The show aired 230 episodes over six seasons, and remains the longest-running version to air in syndication.
After the cancellation of Match Game 79, there was still enough interest in the series for Goodson-Todman and Jim Victory Television to consider a continuation of the daily series in syndication as the weekly Match Game PM was still airing and had not stopped production. The consideration eventually came to fruition as a daily syndicated Match Game, without a year attached and often referred to on air as The Match Game, debuted on September 10, 1979.
The rules and gameplay were the same as before, including the Star Wheel Bonus, but the format was altered slightly. Each contestant on this version of Match Game played a two-game match against another contestant, and the Super Match was played after each game. As on Match Game PM, a contestant did not win any money for winning the game. There were also no returning champions on the daily syndicated series, as two new contestants began each match. The Star Wheel reduced the golden star sections to three, making it more difficult to double the winnings in the Head-to-Head match.
The maximum payout for a contestant was $21,000 (two $500 Audience Matches and two $10,000 Head-To-Head Match wins), the same its syndicated sister series Match Game PM was offering during this time.
For the first two seasons Bill Daily, Dick Martin, Richard Paul, and Bob Barker were among the male semi-regulars who filled Dawson's old spot on the panel. McLean Stevenson, who had done so once in September 1978 and twice near the end of the second year of this version, appeared in nearly all of the third season (1981–82) and became a regular from the eleventh taped week through the end of the season.
The fee plugs which had aired in the middle of the show on the CBS version were featured during the closing credits. The ticket plugs were now shown on every episode. Each ticket plug had two people's faces merged into one image by putting a man's face on a woman's head, putting a mustache on a woman's face, or putting a pair of red lips on a man's face or simply putting two halves of the faces together. The 1990 ABC version used a similar sequence to introduce the stars.
The syndicated Match Game helped exacerbate the perception of the 4:00 pm time slot being a "death slot" for network programming. After CBS canceled Match Game 79, the network moved the long-running soap opera Love of Life into the vacant timeslot. Although the syndicated Match Game was not a direct cause of the ratings problems Love of Life faced – the 4:00 pm timeslot, the last network daytime slot, had been a problem for CBS, NBC, and ABC for years and Love of Life had seen a precipitous drop in ratings since the April 1979 move to the late afternoon – many stations ran the syndicated series against the veteran soap opera and, in the case of some CBS affiliates and owned-and-operated stations, preempted Love of Life in favor of the new Match Game. (Love of Life aired its final episode on February 1, 1980, twenty-one weeks after the debut of the new Match Game.) The daytime syndicated show produced 525 episodes, running until September 10, 1982 – exactly three years after its debut.
The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (1983–84, NBC)
In 1983, producer Mark Goodson teamed up with Orion Television (who had recently acquired the rights to Hollywood Squares) and NBC to create The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. Rayburn, after a year as a morning show host in New York, agreed to return as host. However, few of the regular Squares cast appeared on this version. Jon Bauman ("Sha Na Na") was tapped to host the Hollywood Squares segment of the game, and he and Rayburn swapped seats while the other hosted his portion of the show. The primary announcer was Gene Wood, with Johnny Olson, Bob Hilton, and Rich Jeffries substituting.
These rules were roughly the same as those of Match Game PM with both contestants given three chances apiece to match each panelist once. The lone noticeable difference was in the tie-breaker. Four answers to a Super Match-like statement (example: "_____, New Jersey") were secretly shown to the contestants (examples: "Atlantic City", "Hoboken", "Newark", "Trenton"). They each chose one by number. Then, as was the case in Match Game PM, the host polled the celebrities for verbal responses, and the first panelist to give an answer selected by one of the contestants won the game for that contestant. The winner of the Match Game segment played the returning champion in the Hollywood Squares segment with the eventual winner of Squares playing the Super-Match.
In the Super Match, the Audience Match featured payoffs of $1,000, $500, and $250. If a contestant did not make an Audience Match, the game did not end, but the contestant was given $100 and the game continued to the Head to Head Match.
For the Head-To-Head Match, the game reverted to the contestant picking the celebrity, and each celebrity had a hidden multiplier (10, 20, 30) for which the contestant would be playing for the number of times the Audience Match money won in the Head-To-Head Match, with the maximum amount available being $30,000. Champions remained on the program for up to five days unless defeated.
The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour ran from October 31, 1983 to July 27, 1984. Several music cues from the program are still used today as background music during prize descriptions on The Price Is Right.
In 1989, ABC, which had not carried a daytime game show since Bargain Hunters in 1987, ordered a revival of Match Game for its lineup. A week's worth of pilot episodes were commissioned with Bert Convy as host, who was also hosting 3rd Degree for his own production company at the time. The network agreed to pick up the revival for a summer 1990 premiere.
Just before the new series was to begin, producers were forced to find a new host when Convy was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in April 1990. Although original host Gene Rayburn expressed interest in returning, the producers brought in Ross Shafer, the former host of Fox's Late Show and the USA Network dating series Love Me, Love Me Not, to take Convy's place. Charles Nelson Reilly returned as a regular panelist and Brett Somers appeared as a guest panelist for several weeks. Vicki Lawrence, Sally Struthers, Brad Garrett, Bill Kirchenbauer, and Ronn Lucas were among the semi-regulars for this version of the show. Gene Wood returned as announcer, with Bob Hilton filling in for one week. Marcia Wallace, Betty White, Dick Martin, Dolly Martin, Jo Anne Worley, Edie McClurg & Jimmie Walker were among other panelists who also appeared on earlier versions of the show.
For this edition of Match Game, two contestants competed, with one usually a returning champion. Instead of attempting to match as many of the six panelists as possible over the course of two rounds, the two contestants won money by making matches, with the high scorer becoming champion at the end of the game. As in the 1970s series, two rounds of fill-in-the-blank questions were played, with each match paying off at $50.
After both contestants played a question of their own, each separately played a speed round of Super Match-style questions called Match-Up with a celebrity partner of his or her choice. The contestant was presented with a question with two possible answers and secretly selected one, after which the panelist was told the choices and then tried to match the contestant's choice by giving a verbal response. Each contestant had 30 seconds to make as many matches as possible as $50 per match, and game play began with the trailing contestant.
Following the Match Up segment, another traditional question was played again with all six celebrities for $50 per match. Contestants each then played one final round of Match Up for 45 seconds, with matches paying off at $100 each. The contestant ahead at the end of the second Match-Up round won the game and kept any money earned.
If the game ended in a tie, one last fill-in-the-blank phrase was shown to both contestants along with three choices. The champion chose an answer first and the challenger chose one of the remaining two answers. After the choices were made, the last celebrity who played the second Match-Up round was told which answers the contestants selected and was then asked to choose one of them. The contestant whose chosen answer matched the answer said by that celebrity won an additional $100 and the game.
The Super Match was played similar to the 1978–82 version of the round, beginning with the Audience Match. Initially the payouts were the same as on the 1970s series, with the top answer worth $500, the second $250, and the third $100. The $50 consolation prize for not coming up with a top three answer that had debuted on Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour was kept for this series. After several weeks, the second and third place answers increased to $300 and $200 and the consolation amount doubled to $100.
Once the contestant's Audience Match winnings were determined they then faced the Star Wheel to determine the stake for the Head-to-Head Match, with a maximum amount of $10,000 available. The Star Wheel was slightly modified for this Match Game series, as the contestant did not spin the actual wheel and there were no stars under the celebrities' names. Instead the wheel was fixed in place and the contestant spun a green arrow attached to its rim in order to determine the celebrity. Each celebrity had two red dots placed under their name and the stake was doubled if the wheel landed on one of them.
Otherwise, play was the same as before: the contestant and panelist had to match exactly in order to win the Super Match. Champions could stay for up to five days or until they were defeated, and for the first time a network Match Game series was not subject to a winnings limit; ABC, who had enforced a strict $20,000 limit for years on its game shows, had stopped this practice by 1990. (Although NBC had no network-imposed limit, MGHS was a combination of two shows and not a single like the CBS and ABC series were.)
Because many ABC stations in major Eastern Time markets carried local news at 12:00 pm, the show was mostly seen in smaller markets and on independent stations in some larger markets without network clearances (which had affected the previous occupier of the timeslot, soap opera Ryan's Hope), and was canceled after one season. The show's 250th and final episode aired on July 12, 1991. Ross Shafer announced that the show would be moving back to CBS for the 1991–92 season on the finale, but this never materialized. The following Monday, Home was temporarily expanded to 90 minutes to fill the show's timeslot (ABC would return the noon timeslot to its affiliates in 1992). Match Game was ABC's last daytime game show.
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In 1996, a pilot was produced (see below) for a new revival of the show as MG2/Match Game 2, just five years after the previous incarnation had left the air. While that version (which did not air) had a much greater departure from the game's original format, the producers significantly retooled the format to create a somewhat more faithful remake of the program, which was picked up in syndication and began in fall 1998. It is the only version of the show to not air on a broadcast network (as the 1979–82 version and Match Game PM were essentially continuations of the CBS version).
Michael Burger hosted this revived version of the show, with Paul Boland announcing. The only celebrity guests who had appeared on previous versions of the show were Vicki Lawrence (who appeared on two weeks of the 1970s version and regularly on the 1990–91 version) and Nell Carter (who had appeared on the final week in 1991). The regular panelists on this version were Carter, Lawrence, and Judy Tenuta, and semi-regulars were George Hamilton, John Salley, Coolio, and Rondell Sheridan. Production returned to Studio 33 at CBS Television City on this version.
This incarnation of Match Game was played with rules similar to that of the 1973–82 versions with a few exceptions. The show featured a panel of only five celebrities instead of the usual six. Questions in this version were not labeled A or B; instead titles with puns were a clue as to the content. As on the 1990–91 version, all five panelists played each round regardless of whether they matched a contestant on the first question; correct matches in the second round were worth two "points" while those in the first were awarded one.
After two rounds, the highest scorer played the Super Match, which was played similar to its 1973–78 incarnation (with the exception of the 1983 rule change, $50 in this version, for an unsuccessful match), including the $5,000 top prize.
This version was noted for its sometimes over-the-top risqué humor of the celebrities and contestants. For instance, the prohibition on answers such as genitalia was no longer existent. On many episodes, answers that were deemed inappropriate for daytime TV were edited out with a "cuckoo" dubbed over the audible answer and a "CENSORED" graphic over the answer card and sometimes the person's mouth.
While Burger generally received positive reviews for his hosting, the series was mostly panned. Its humor was seen to have crossed the line from risqué into the out-and-out dirty and many stations pushed it into late-night slots. Its low budget and lack of returning champions (staples of several modern game shows) were also focal points for criticism. This was especially since two of the previous three versions to air all featured returning champions and offered cash prizes well in excess of $10,000 in an era when purchasing power was roughly twice that of 1998.
This version lasted one season, running from September 21, 1998 to May 1999, with repeats airing until September 17, 1999.
Gameshow Marathon (2006, CBS)
On June 22, 2006, Match Game was the sixth of seven classic game shows featured in CBS's month-long Gameshow Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake and announced by Rich Fields, and the second of two "semi-final" games in the tournament. The contestants were Kathy Najimy and Lance Bass with Betty White, George Foreman, Kathy Griffin, Bruce Vilanch, Adam Carolla, and Adrianne Curry as the panel. White retained her normal sixth-seat position and was the only one from the original series to appear for this segment of Gameshow Marathon.
Lake used the same signature long-thin Sony ECM-51 telescoping microphone Rayburn used during the CBS version, and the set was rebuilt to be almost an exact match of that used from 1973 to 1978. Najimy won the game, scoring five matches to Bass's three.
The format was that of Match Game PM, except that in the Super-Match the Head-To-Head Match was played for 50 times the amount won in the two Audience Matches ($50,000), which was won.
Match Game (Canada)
A Canadian revival of Match Game debuted on March 5, 2010, as Atomes crochus, a Québécois version on V, with Alexandre Barrette as host and produced by Zone 3, in association with FremantleMedia North America. A coinciding English-language version debuted on The Comedy Network October 15, 2012 and was hosted by Darrin Rose, with Seán Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni as permanent panelists. On April 4, 2013, it was announced that due to high ratings, the show would return for a 60-episode second season, which premiered on September 2.
Gameplay is similar to the 1990 U.S. revival; two rounds are played, with all six celebrities participating in both rounds, and each match is worth 50 points (100 points starting in season 2). The third round is called Match-Up!, with each contestant given 45 seconds to match/his her chosen celebrity partner, and successful matches are again worth 50 points (100 starting in season 2). The contestant with more points at the end of this round wins the game and receives the cash equivalent of their score (for example, if the champion's final score was 450 points, the payoff would be $450).
Unlike any previous version, the Audience Match portion of the "Super Match" is not played for a payoff, but simply to determine the value of the Head-to-Head Match. The potential payoffs are $2,000–$1,500–$1,000 ($2,500–$2,000–$1,500 starting in season 2), or $500 ($1,000 starting in season 2) for an unsuccessful match. If the champion manages a lucky Star Wheel spin, as in earlier versions, the value is doubled for a payoff of up to $4,000 ($5,000 starting in season 2).
The first of ten 60-minute episodes of another revival of Match Game premiered on ABC (which had previously aired the 1990 version) on June 26, 2016 at 10:00 pm ET. Alec Baldwin serves as host and executive producer. The show airs as part of ABC's "Sunday Fun and Games" block alongside the returning Celebrity Family Feud with Steve Harvey and The $100,000 Pyramid with Michael Strahan. It also marks the series' return to New York, having taped there during the 1960s. On August 4, 2016, ABC renewed Match Game for a second season. Celebrities who have made multiple appearances to date include: Rosie O'Donnell, Tituss Burgess, Ana Gasteyer, Jack McBrayer, Leah Remini, Cheryl Hines, Niecy Nash, Ellie Kemper, David Alan Grier, Sheryl Crow, Horatio Sanz, D.L. Hughley and Sherri Shepherd.
Gameplay is similar to the 1973–78 version, featuring two full games, each with two new contestants. Each game is self-contained, with two questions per contestant; the winner advances to the Super Match. If the score is tied after two rounds, a sudden-death tiebreaker is played. Values for the Audience Match portion of the bonus game are $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000, with $1,000 awarded for not matching any of the top three answers. The contestant then selects a celebrity for the Head-to-Head Match, which multiplies the Audience Match winnings by five if successful, for a potential top prize of $25,000.
On many episodes, answers that are deemed inappropriate for prime-time are edited out with a slide whistle sound effect dubbed over the audible answer. In addition, the answer card and celebrity's mouth may be blurred or pixelated.
Only 11 episodes are known to survive – the pilot and ten kinescope recordings, all of which are archived at the Paley Center for Media. Nine of these are black-and-white kinescopes and one is a color episode (from 1969 and on videotape). The pilot has since fallen into the public domain.
In 1965, The Match Game began to be produced on color videotape; however, none of the tapes are known to have survived the wiping and re-use procedures of NBC during that period as none of the surviving episodes are in color.
Buzzr owns the rights to, and has occasionally aired, three episodes from this series, and Game Show Network (GSN) has held a long-term license to air the show (and most later versions) since its debut. GSN most recently aired two during the Match Game marathon on Christmas Day 2012. One of them is the 1962 pilot with Peggy Cass and Peter Lind Hayes; the other is an all-star match featuring Cass, Betty White, and Joan Fontaine against Bennett Cerf, Henry Morgan, and Robert Q. Lewis, apparently from January 1964. The third episode is a July 1964 episode featuring Orson Bean and Jayne Mansfield.
All three versions that aired during this period are presumed[by whom?] to be intact and currently air on both Buzzr and GSN. It was the very first program to air on GSN during its launch in 1994. GSN has also aired all 16 episodes that were recorded in 1979 but not aired by CBS at the time.
All episodes are intact, but due to cross-ownership – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer owns the then-rights to Hollywood Squares (at the time of MGHS it was co-produced by Orion Television) while FremantleMedia owns Match Game – and Rayburn's displeasure with the series, it has have never been rerun.
All episodes of this version are intact, along with all five Bert Convy pilots. GSN aired this version as recently as 2004, and the VH1 miniseries Game Show Moments Gone Bananas aired a clip from a Convy pilot, as well as a clip with Ross Shafer. GSN aired one of the Convy pilots on December 25, 2012, as part of a Match Game marathon.
The series is intact, and brief clips have been seen on various game show blooper specials. GSN aired an episode of this run as part of a Match Game marathon on Christmas Day 2012.
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Plans were made to re-launch Match Game as a stand-alone series in daily syndication in conjunction with the revival of the nighttime version of The Price Is Right. Rayburn was once again scheduled to host, but he had already committed to Break the Bank at the time and was unavailable. The project was postponed and reruns from the 1979–82 daily series aired instead.
Rayburn was fired from Break the Bank after 13 weeks and several disputes with the producers, and by late 1986 was once again available. The January 19, 1987 issue of Broadcasting & Cable a trade advertisement promoting another five-day-a-week revival attempt in syndication for Fall 1987, again with Rayburn as host. The advertisement featured a red-colored version of the 1978–82 logo and was promoted as featuring a "Celebrity Panel-the biggest names in entertainment" plus "big cash prizes for lots of excitement". Coca-Cola Telecommunications was to syndicate the program.
1996 (Match Game 2/MG2)
A pilot was shot in September 1996 at KTLA Studios in California for a revised version called Match Game 2 (MG2) with Charlene Tilton (a panelist on the 1979–82 version) as host. The panel for this show included Downtown Julie Brown, David Chokachi, Gil Gerard, Rondell Sheridan, and Kathleen Kinmont.
The format featured gameplay not used in any other version:
- Instead of celebrities writing answers and contestants providing verbal responses, MG2 switched the roles, similar to the tiebreaker in Match Game PM.
- A "Panel Poll" took the place of the Head-To-Head Match in the Super-Match. Each celebrity was given a choice of three adjectives, and the contestant guessed who picked what at $100 per match. This was done twice, after which the Audience Match was played.
- In the Audience Match, instead of having the third, second, and most popular answers worth money, they each multiplied the contestant's earnings. The third most popular response doubled the "Panel Poll" winnings, the second most popular tripled their winnings, and the most popular multiplied their winnings by five for a top prize of $5,000.
Many elements of this pilot, such as a change from a six celebrities to five, were kept in for a second pilot shot a year later with Michael Burger as host.
2004 (What The Blank!, FOX)
Vanity Fair and TVgameshows.net reported in May 2004 that a pilot called What the Blank! was taped for FOX and hosted by Fred Willard for air during the Summer 2004 "off" season. The game was an incorporation of 21st-century elements into the classic game as well as an added feature that people from along the streets would be able to participate for matching with contestants and celebrities in the style of Street Smarts.
TBS commissioned a pilot for a revived Match Game as part of an overhaul of its late night television programming. On June 21, 2008, Andrew Daly hosted a pilot episode with panelists Super Dave Osborne, Sarah Silverman, Scott Thompson, Rashida Jones, Norm Macdonald, and Niecy Nash. The show used a reproduction of the 1973–78 version of the Match Game set.
Gameplay for the front game was the same as Match Game PM, with three rounds of front play. The Super Match bonus was played differently, however. Instead of a single Audience Match question, 5 full-length survey questions were asked of the contestant in 30 seconds (similar to the "Fast Money" round in Family Feud). The contestant had to give what they thought was the most-popular response to each question in that time. When time expired, the contestant was allowed to ask a celebrity what THEY thought might be the top answer for one of the questions. The contestant could then decide to keep their own answer or change it for the star's response. This was repeated twice for two more of the questions, each with a different celebrity. For each match, the contestant earned $1,000, for a possible total bank of $5,000. The contestant then chose a star to play the "Head-To-Head Match" to try to double their bank (for a possible $10,000 in bonus winnings).
TBS eventually passed on the project in favor of Lopez Tonight.
The 1973–82 incarnations are shown in reruns daily on GSN. Virtually all episodes of this version are still extant, although some reportedly are not shown due to celebrities' refusals of clearances and others have been banned for various reasons (usually for answers from either contestants or celebrities). Other episodes no longer air on GSN due to tape damage. On November 26, 2006 the network broadcast an hour-long documentary titled The Real Match Game Story: Behind The Blank featuring rarely seen footage of the 1960s version, many odd or memorable moments from the main 1973–82 runs, plus interviews with Rayburn, Somers, Dawson, DeBartolo, producer Ira Skutch, and others involved in the show's production. The 1990–91 ABC version has also had runs on GSN, most recently from 2002 to 2004. On December 25, 2012, an episode of the 1998 version along with a Bert Convy pilot aired on GSN for the first time as part of a Match Game marathon. Buzzr also airs reruns of the show, particularly from the first half of its 1978 run.
Match Game featured several theme songs throughout its various runs. From 1962 to 1967, Bert Kaempfert's instrumental "A Swingin' Safari" was used as the theme; a slightly different rendition (Billy Vaughn's cover of the same song) was used on the pilot. From 1967 to 1969, a new theme composed by Score Productions was used.
When the program returned in 1973, Goodson-Todman once again turned to Score Productions for a music package. A new theme, performed by "The Midnight Four", was composed by Score staff composer Ken Bichel with a memorable "funk" guitar intro, and similar elements and instruments from this theme were also featured in the numerous "think cues" heard when the panel wrote down their answers. Alternate think cues were extracted from the music packages for Tattletales and The Money Maze. In keeping with the zany atmosphere, the music supervisors also used other notable musical works to add to humorous situations. Among the non-Score Productions music heard on occasion was the "burlesque" music titled "The Stripper", and a version of "Stars And Stripes Forever".
The music for The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour was composed by Edd Kalehoff. None of the music used from the 1970s version was used in this version. The main theme song and several of its cue variations are still used on The Price Is Right.
In 1990, Bichel re-orchestrated his 1970s theme with more modern instruments with new think cues (with the classic intro/think cue re-orchestrated). The 1998 version again used music from Score Productions. The 2016 revival currently utilizes Bichel's original 1973 theme and think cues.
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|Country||Local Name||Host||Channel||Year Aired|
|Australia||Match Game||Michael McCarthy||Network Ten||1960s|
|Graham Kennedy's Blankety Blanks||Graham Kennedy||1977–81|
|Blankety Blanks||Daryl Somers
|Canada (English)||Match Game||Darrin Rose||The Comedy Network||2012–present|
|Canada (French)||L'union fait la farce||Serge Bélair
|Atomes Crochus||Alexandre Barrette||V||2010–present|
|France||Les Bons Génies||Patrice Laffont||France 2||1996|
|Punkt, Punkt, Punkt||Mike Krüger||ARD (1991)
|Indonesia||Apa Benar Kata Gue?||Steny Agustaf Rachman||Shine TV
|Ikut-Ikutan Kata||Rizky H. Pratama||NET.||2016–present|
|Japan||Ai ai gêmu||Shingo Yamashiro||Fuji TV||1979–85|
|Mexico||Espacio en Blanco||Mauricio Barcelata||Televisa||2006|
|United Kingdom||Blankety Blank||Terry Wogan
|Lily Savage's Blankety Blank||Lily Savage||ITV||2001–02|
|Blankety Blank||David Walliams||2016|
|United States||The Match Game||Gene Rayburn||NBC||1962–69|
|Match Game '7X||CBS||1973–79|
|Match Game PM||Syndication||1975–81|
|The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour||Gene Rayburn (MG) & Jon Bauman (HS)||NBC||1983–84|
|Match Game||Ross Shafer||ABC||1990–91|
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Several home game versions based on the 1960s and 1970s American television version were published by Milton Bradley from 1963 through 1978, in multiple editions.
The Match Game (1963–69)
Starting in 1963, Milton Bradley made six editions of the NBC version. Each game contained crayons, wipe-off papers, 100 perforated cards with six questions per card, a plastic scoreboard tray with colored pegs and chips, and 6 "Scribble Boards". After the first edition, the vinyl "scribble boards" and crayons were replaced with six "magic slates" and wooden styli.
The main object of the game is for contestants to try to write answers to questions that will match their partners' answers. The rules for a six-contestant game are the same as on the TV show (with similar scoring, such as receiving points for matching two answers and more points for matching all three answers), but the home game also has variations for fewer than six contestants. No bonus game is included.
Milton Bradley also created a Fine Edition and a Collector's Edition with more questions. The magic slates came enclosed in a gold-looking folder, plus a dial to keep score instead of the pegboard. The scoring and point values were just like the TV show. The only difference between the Fine Edition and the Collector's Edition is that instead of being packaged in a normal cardboard box, it came in a leatherette case with buttons on the front apron..
Match Game (1974–78)
Starting in 1974, Milton Bradley created three more editions based on the most famous CBS version. Each edition contained a game board with a plastic stand, two game booklets (one with instructions) with material for 92 complete games (368 Main Game Questions and 92 "Audience Match" and "Head-to-Head Match" questions), two magic slates and styli (only of the Head-to-Head portion), and play money.
As in the 1970s version, two contestants have two chances to match as many of the six "celebrities" as possible. Celebrity answers are printed in the booklets, and after the contestant gives an answer, the M.C. reads the celebrity responses one by one, marking correct answers on the game board. A contestant can get up to six matches in one game. The contestant with the most matches plays the "Super Match" round (the MC reads the question and the responses) for a chance to win money (with an "Audience Match" and a "Head-to-Head Match" similar to the TV show) of up to $5,000.
Interactive Online Versions
After much success with their online version of Family Feud, Uproar.com released a single-contestant version of Match Game in 2001. However, as of September 30, 2006, the website has been temporarily shut-down, no longer offering any game show based games of any kind.
GSN offered a version called Match Game: Interactive on their own website that allowed users to play along with the show while watching. However, as of January 1, 2007, only those shows that airing between 7PM and 10PM were interactive as Match Game itself was not one of them.
Prior to their Interactive online game, GSN also had an Interactive mobile phone version based on Match Game PM courtesy of Goldpocket iTV.
A five reels video slot machine based on the 1973–82 version was released at various US casinos by WMS Gaming in 2004. The game features caricatures of Jimmie Walker, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Morgan Fairchild (even though she has never appeared on any incarnations of the show itself), Rip Taylor and Vicki Lawrence as the panel and Gene Rayburn as the host. The Slot machine's bonus round stays faithful to the original game format where round one is adapted from the main game while round two features the big-money, "Supermatch" bonus round.
A DVD set called The Best of Match Game featuring a collection of more than 30 episodes of the 1970s version including the original 1962 pilot episode (which was originally called The Match Game) was released in 2006. A less-than-stellar eight-episode collection, called "The Best of Match Game: Dumb Dora Is So Dumb Edition!", was released later on in 2007.
In 2007, Endless Games released a DVD game featuring hilarious questions and clips from the 1970s version. Its gameplay was similar to that of the 1970s version; however, it allowed up to six contestants rather than two. Scoring for the game was also slightly different as well, as every match in the round one was worth $50 each while in round two, every match was worth $100. Also, the Super Match round was played differently. The audience match portion was played after round one by the leading contestant(s), while a correct match doubled the winnings of the contestant(s) score.
In popular culture
The series RuPaul's Drag Race has parodied Match Game in a segment called Snatch Game since the second season, which aired in 2010.
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- Martindale, Wink (24 April 2014). "Promo Sheet for Match Game ('98)". Facebook. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
Were you matching the stars back in 1999? What's your favorite Match Game Memory?
- Martindale, Wink (24 April 2014). "Match Game ('98) Sales Sheet". Facebook. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
Continuing with Throwback Thursday...Here is a great full page spread for the renewal for Match Game with Michael Burger. "DUMB DORA IS SO DUMB...SHE ONCE TRIED TO CUT A DECK OF CARDS WITH A _____"!
- "'Match Game' Returns to Primetime with Host Alec Baldwin on ABC" (Press release). ABC via FutonCritic.com. April 28, 2016. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- McLennan, Cindy (August 4, 2016). "Match Game: Renewed for Season Two on ABC". TV Series Finale. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Nakamura, Reid (August 4, 2016). "ABC Renews Game Shows 'Match Game,' 'Celebrity Family Feud,' '$100,000 Pyramid". TheWrap. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Tucker, Ken (June 27, 2016). "Alec Baldwin's Match Game: Funny, Smutty, and Anti-Trump". Yahoo! TV. Yahoo, Inc. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
- "The Match Game". The Match Game Website. Retrieved August 12, 2007.
- "Advertisement" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. 112 (3): 108–109. 19 January 1987. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- Martindale, Wink (27 April 2014). "MG2 Question Card". Facebook. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
From the prop department here are some question cards from a Match Game pilot. What's your answer?
- Adalian, Josef. "Fox cranks out 'Blank'". Variety. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- Martindale, Wink (11 April 2016). "Facebook". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
Here is a rare photo of the proposed 2009 TBS remake of Match Game. I was told this set is an exact duplicate of the original and was built using blueprints found at CBS. The pilot was shot on the legendary stage 33, the same stage Match Game taped their classic episodes. CBS has a great place in my heart as well.
- John, Janavs. "Match Game". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
Although this was a pilot it was built as a series set and almost a direct translation of the original. I designed a beautiful updated, retro set, but the powers that be felt the classic is classic. That's Ok. The original set was good to begin with.
- "Match Game PM". Archived from the original on 2005-06-22. Retrieved 2007-08-12.
- Daley, Megan (January 20, 2015). "Fox Television Stations gets rights to classic game show library Buzzr TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
- Block, Alex Ben (January 20, 2015). "Fox TV Stations to Air Classic Game Shows From Buzzr TV's Massive Library". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
- Match Game, Television Production Music Museum, www.tvpmm.com. Retrieved January 17, 2011.[dead link]
- 1962 pilot episode at archive.org
- The Match Game (1962) at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game PM at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game 73 at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour (1983–1984) at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game '90 at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game '98 at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game (2008) (Pilot) at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game (2012–) (Canada) at the Internet Movie Database
- Blankety Blanks (1977–1979) (Australia) at the Internet Movie Database
- Schnick-Schnack (1975–1977) (Germany) at the Internet Movie Database
- Espacio en Blanco (2006) (Mexico) at the Internet Movie Database
- Blankety Blank (1977–2002) (UK) at the Internet Movie Database
- Match Game-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television