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Card Sharks (1996)

Producer: All-American Television
Host: Tom Green
Assistants: Deedee Weathers
Celebrities: David Hasselhoff, Cindy Garrett, Doug Davidson
Taping Info: 1996 at Tribune Studios
Made it to Air: Not this version. It was on the air in three previous incarnations (1978-1981, 1986-1989 network and 1986-1987 syndicated) plus a brief 2001 revival. If you've seen the 2001 revival, this one manages to be even worse.

In 1995, All-American Television bought the assets of the Mark Goodson Productions format library partially to help Goodson's heirs pay off some hefty estate taxes. They take a look around, notice that only one of their properties (The Price is Right) is airing in America and decide they need to dust off some of the classics and get them back on the air. But not the stodgy way they were done in the '70s and '80s. This is the '90s! And we're the producers of Baywatch! Let's take some elements of Baywatch and put them into a game show!

Tom Green, not the Canadian comedian but instead a local sports anchor for a Denver TV station and the former host of Sports on Tap is your new Jim Perry/Bob Eubanks/Bill Rafferty. And since this is Baywatch-meets-a-game-show, we need a bimbo. That position is filled by Dee Dee Weathers, whose credits up to that point consist of a short scene in Tank Girl. And, for good measure, let's ditch every decent game play concept that was in the original, keep the stupid ones, and add ones that are even worse.

First off, there are 10 cards on the board. Not two sets of five one set of 10. Both players play off the same set of cards, meaning one player can flip nine, the other can sweep in and take the tenth and win. Also, there's no more of those pesky survey questions they're all now those best of 10 questions that dragged the 80s version to a halt. So what group of 10 do we have on this show? Chefs? Business executives? Soccer moms? Nope. Playboy playmates. We'll, if you're going to go for it, might as well really go for it. Also, since there did not seem to be an audience, they're all on stage, so you have 14 people (10 playmates, one host, one assistant and two contestants) on a very small set. If you flip the 10th card, you win the game and get $250 (plus a bonus $250 if you flipped all ten). If you lose, you're done, off the show, never coming back, counting your blessings...

The bonus game, one of the most dramatic, nerve wracking, mathematically challenging bonus games ever, has been sold for beans. In its place, is this oddball bonus game involving three celebrities and a diamond of cards. Three non-face cards plus one ace are placed face down in the diamond. Each of the celebrities (taped in advanced) are asked a question similar to the "chip clip dilemmas" used in the 2001 version, and the contestant wins the right to pick one card for each celebrity he or she matched answers for a total of three cards. The player wins 100 times the value of the cards picked or $5,000 if he or she picks the ace.

Up until I had seen the tape of this, I really had respected the work of Tom Green. I remember him when I lived in Colorado and he did the weekend sports on the ABC station in town, including Sunday nights when he did it from a recliner with his shoes off. Reading a prompter while lying at an angle has to be very difficult. Even Sports on Tap had its charms. But Dear God, he looked so out of place and so sleazy on this. Fortunately, nobody in Denver saw this, and was able to move back into local sportscasting unharmed.

This pilot has been viewed 12586 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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