"Game Show Marathon" Runs a Little Short

Although the summer stunt program "Game Show Marathon" has ended its run on CBS--and probably won't be back--I hadn't started this blog when it was airing, so I'm briefly commenting on it now.

"Game Show Marathon" capitalized on America's longtime obsession with game shows by combining several of TV history's most popular games with America's current obsession with D-list celebrities in the form of a game show tournament (or, marathon). The celebs played the games for an ultimate cash prize for charity, while the winnings they earned in the individual games were awarded to play-at-home viewers who entered the contest via cellphone text messages (in the process, managing to work in America's current obsession for doing things with their cellphones other than talking to people).

Leslie Nielsen, SNL's Tim Meadows, TLC's Paige Davis, N'Sync's Lance Bass, Baywatch's Brande Roderick, and marathon winner Kathy Najimy competed in classic game shows "The Price is Right," "Card Sharks," "Beat the Clock," "Let's Make a Deal," "Press Your Luck," "Match Game," and "Family Feud." The fact that it is necessary to preface most of these celebrities with the possessives I've used in order to identify them is an indication of the grade of celebrity involved.

Ricki Lake of John Waters movie and tabloid talk show fame served as the host for all of the games. While Lake was an amiable enough host (despite the fact that at times she seemed to conduct the proceedings as if she thought she was slumming--which she was), the fact that she was the sole host of all these revived classic game shows was one of the program's weaknesses.

The producers appeared to have gone to great efforts to replicate the well-known sets of all of the classic shows--with impressive results--but it seems as if they thought that this would be enough to attract the attention and renewed affection of audiences. They couldn't have been more wrong, because one of the things that caused most of these shows' popularity in the first place was their irreplaceable hosts. "Let's Make a Deal" without Monty Hall, "The Price is Right" without Bob Barker, "Family Feud" without Richard Dawson, and "Match Game" without Gene Rayburn are all just, well, impressively reproduced sets populated by D-list celebrities.

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