Fun and Games: ABC's game show reboots

Curator's Note

“Come on Down,” “Survey Says,” “I’d Like to Solve the Puzzle.” Since television’s earliest days, game shows have been a staple genre for the medium. While current programs, such as The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy! have become constants on the small screen, other programs have been a reliable reboot for a network or syndicator looking to fill a spot in the schedule.

As shown in the promotional clip by ABC, the network opted, in 2015, to block out its Sunday night programming with three rebooted game shows: Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game. Yet, while this was a first in primetime for many years, the back-to-back-to-back reboots was not the first reincarnation of each program. Family Feud, originally hosted by Richard Dawson on ABC from 1976-1985, was rebooted by CBS in 1988 with Ray Combs, then brought back in syndication in 1999 with Louie Anderson (Steve Harvey is the current syndicated host).

Pyramid got its start in 1973 with The $10,000 Pyramid, hosted by Dick Clark. Over the next 15 years, Clark would remain host, but the show would increase the prize winnings to $100,000. Yet, prior to Michael Strahan being handed the emcee reigns in 2016, shorter, less-successful reboots with John Davidson in 1991, Donny Osmond in 2002, and Mike Richards in 2012, would hit the airwaves.

Arguably the most popular reboot of a game show with its original host, The Match Game aired from 1962-1969 with Gene Rayburn. After a brief cancellated hiatus, CBS picked up the reformatted version of the show, keeping it on for a decade. Like Family Feud and Pyramid, Match Game would also see two brief reincarnations, in 1990 and 1998, that saw little success. Yet, the most recent, Alec Baldwin-hosted Match Game, has served as a three-part successful Sunday night lineup for the network.

In the early days of television, game shows were not only a staple genre, but also an important part of each network’s primetime lineup. Shows such as I’ve Got a Secret and What’s My Line were consistently in the top of the Nielsen Ratings[1]. Even as previous reboots of shows in ABC’s lineup have not always achieved longevity, the success of ABC’s Fun & Games night of programming may bring in a new era of game show reboots in primetime.




[1] Malone (18 June, 2018), Broadcasting & Cabl


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