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Match Game (1990)


Producer: Mark Goodson
Host: Bert Convy
Announcer: Gene Wood
Celebrities: Brad Garrett, Marsha Warfield, Charles Nelson Reilly, Khrystyne Haje, Jerry Van Dyke, Teri Copley
Taping Info: October 1, 1989
Made it to Air: Yes, this version joined the ABC lineup on July 16, 1990, replacing reruns of Perfect Strangers. In the 12 PM Eastern slot, it had trouble with clearances and left the air on July 12, 1991 after a few weeks of reruns. Other versions of the show aired from 1962-69, 1973-82 and 1988-99.
Other Pilots: The version I saw was marked #5.
Availability: Pilots #3 and #5 are at UCLA. A clip of Pilot #5 was shown on an episode of Game Show Moments Gone Bananas.

Match Game was one of those formats that wouldn't go away. First started in 1962, it left the air in 1969, came back in 1973, stuck around until 1982, came back in 1983 a year and had an aborted restart in the mid 1980s. So, it was time to try it again. Rumor abounds that Gene Rayburn wanted to host this but no network would touch him because of his age at the time (68), so Bert Convy was tapped as host, just completing his Goodson-Todman run on Super Password.

The opening was similar to the 70s version rather than the split screen version that eventually made it to air, with the circle being the flipping device rather than the rounded rectangle. The set was pretty much the same as the eventually airing version in the black and mustard motif, with a minor difference in the score display since it was points and not dollars. This version was played in three rounds, the first two rounds counting for one point per match and the final round counting for two. The celebrities played all three questions. There was no "Match-Up" round like the eventual version. The bonus game was pretty much like the 70s version, with the Super Match in the $500-$250-$100 increments and the star wheel that had the moving pointer and the value could be double.

As for the actual game, there was a huge problem when Teri Copley went for the single entendre on one answer and caused a bit of kerfuffle. I believe it was kept in the pilot to show that "we can still be fun." Eagle eyed viewers would even recognize one of the contestants, Michelle with the poofy hair who was on the final episode of Super Password.

After the pilot was sold to ABC and just before taping was to begin, host Bert Convy fell ill, ironically while visiting his mother. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Convy was unable to take the hosting chores and was replaced by comedian Ross Shafer. Additionally, the eventual airing version added two "Match-Up" rounds, where players tried to match a designated celebrity as many times as possible in a time limit from a list of two choices such as "MILK (SHAKE or MAN)". However, after a year of poor ratings and clearances in the noon slot, ABC threw in the towel and turned the time over to their affiliates, as NBC had done when it had canceled Super Password. Although this version was not received well when it aired mainly due to the declining caliber of the celebrities, compared to the next version (1998) this looked like television perfection. This incarnation deserved a better fate.

This pilot has been viewed 9632 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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