Comedy Network blanks with Match Game

Three on a Match: Deb DiGiovanni, Darrin Rose and Sean Cullen

It’s always dicey when you try to reboot a favourite from TV’s past. GSN tried reviving the classic panel show I’ve Got a Secret in 2006 and it stayed a secret.
Starting today at 8 p.m. ET, the Comedy Network launches an all new, Canadian version of Match Game. The Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production originally aired in the ’60s and ’70s and was so popular from ’73 to ’76 it was the No. 1 show in all of daytime.
I used to rush home from school as a kid just to see host Gene Rayburn try to keep order with panelists Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers and Richard Dawson goofing off with the likes of McLean Stevenson, Nipsey Russell, Fannie Flagg and Elaine Joyce. There were shows where they all seemed a little loopy and in fact they were. The original production schedule called for five shows to be shot in a day, and the ones taped after a hearty liquid lunch were always the most fun.
The new show was shot in Montreal on a similar schedule–five shows a day shot over 12 days. And, yes, as Deb DiGiovanni told me, a few panelists enjoyed their refreshments between tapings.
“I’m actually not a drinker, so I did a lot of watching people pretending it was water, wink wink,” she says. DiGiovanni joins Sean Cullen on the panel with guests including Tom Green, Colin Mochrie, Robin Dunne, Samantha Bee (“The Daily Show”), Jeremy Hotz, Mark Little and Scott Thompson, as well as U.S.stars such as Janeanne Garofalo and Andy Kindler.
Hosting is Darrin Rose and DiGiovanni doesn’t envy him the task. “He had to keep things in order,” she says. “We felt bad for him, he keeps it going so well.”

Original host Rayburn with Joan Collins and Richard Dawson

The new show features the old waa-waa guitar theme, a similar, loudly-painted set and the same basic game play. Missing is original host Gene Rayburn’s collapsible, wand-like mike. Apparently the search for a new one went blank. “I think Gene Rayburn was probably buried with it,” DiGiovanni speculates. “God bless, but if we crack that open, I’m sure he’s clutching the microphone.”
Also missing is the feeling that something naughty could happen. It’s 2012, and somebody using the word “hump” to fill in a blank doesn’t have the same impact as it did in ’73 or ’74. That’s the new Match Game‘s dilemma–trying to sound risque in an era when anything goes.
You can almost imagine a Howard Stern radio version of this show today full of obscenities and nudity. Comedy is going for a more family audience weeknights at at 8 p.m.
The new cast gives it their dirty best, says Rose. “You’ll be shocked at the number of euphemisms for genitalia they came up with,” he says. Two to listen for are “lady stuffer” and “snake garage.”

Read more about the new Match Game here at this story I filed for The Canadian Press.

One Response to “Comedy Network blanks with Match Game”

  1. All comics, and all bluntly leering tee-hee? The original would balance ordinary identifible TV actors guest paneling with three regulars.

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