Top 12 Game Shows of All Time15
By Caryn K. Hayes
Watching game shows was a great family past time when I was growing up. While recently surfing through classic cable channels, I realized it still is.
The best game shows usually manage to stand the test of time while evolving and continuing to challenge contestants and viewers in a relevant way. There’s nothing like a good game show to brush up on your intelligence, skill, and cunning or to reinforce just how much information you failed to retain from grade school. Many game shows come and go, but here’s a list of benchmark shows that stand the test of time.
Originally premiering in 1964, Jeopardy! is a quiz show where contestants are given an answer and are asked to formulate the question. Art Fleming hosted the show for the first twelve years it on the air until it was cancelled. Alex Trebek was brought in as the quizmaster in 1984 when the show returned to television and has become the face of the show. What sets Jeopardy apart from other game shows is the fact that contestants have to be very smart to win very little money.
2. The Price is Right
The first incarnation of The Price is Right, where contestants bid on the cost of products, was hosted by Bill Cullen from 1956 to 1965. The show was revived in 1972 with new host, Bob Barker who stayed until his retirement in 2007; Drew Carey succeeded him. The Price is Right is the longest consecutively-running game show in the history of television. Contestants are chosen from a live audience and are often picked for being eccentric and/or enthusiastic. Shopaholics are encouraged to apply.
British import Survivor premiered in the United States in 2000. The series maroons a group of strangers in an isolated area where they must find their own food, water, and construct their own shelter. Hosted by Jeff Probst, the game splits the contestants into “tribes” as they compete in challenges for rewards and immunity from ejection from the game. As we learned in the very first season: it’s just a game on an island full of rats and snakes. Watch nature take its course.
READ: 13 TV & Film Characters That Would Make MacGyver Proud – #12 The Cast of Survivor
4. Family Feud
Two families compete in this quiz show originally hosted by Richard Dawson (1976-1985). The families answer survey questions based on the most popular answers. After 1985, the series saw a number of cancellations, revivals, and host changes, including Ray Combs, Richard Karn, and current host, Steve Harvey. You can usually tell how smart or dumb each family member is by how far down the line they are positioned.
5. Wheel of Fortune
Hosted by Chuck Woolery, Pat Sajak, and others at various times during its long history, Wheel of Fortune is a game where contestants solve word puzzles. Like the game Hangman, players suggest letters after spinning a large carnival wheel where prizes and penalties are selected. Greedy contestants should be wary of the bankrupts hidden in the wheel. Five years ago, my sister lost $12,000 that I’m no longer bitter about.
A bit of Wheel of Fortune trivia: the hostess position, currently held by Vanna White, wasn’t created until after the pilot, as a mechanical board was originally intended to reveal the letters.
6. Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Created in the United Kingdom, Who Wants to be a Millionaire began in the US in 1999. It ran for three years in primetime and was hosted by Regis Philbin. In 2002, the quiz show became syndicated and Meredith Vieira took over hosting. Contestants are asked multiple-choice questions with increasing levels of difficulty with each level set at a specified amount of money. The game includes opportunities for contestants to use lifesavers such as the ability to phone a friend or poll the audience. Smart players will have an Internet savvy friend at the ready and not their grandmother who can never remember how to log in.
Originally hosted by Dick Clark, Pyramid premiered in 1973 as “The $10,000 Pyramid.” Later, the name of the show changed based on the top prize awarded. The series ran from 1973 until 1988 in both a daytime timeslot and in syndication for five years. The game pits two teams, made up of a celebrity and a non-celebrity, against each other as they play the word association game.
8. Match Game
Premiering in 1962, Match Game ran at various times, on various networks, and like many game shows of its time, it had a few hosts, most notably Gene Rayburn. The game format consisted of two players who were asked questions. Their answers would be matched to the answers of six celebrities. The questions were often filled with double entendres and bawdy humor.
9. Let’s Make a Deal
First hosted by Monty Hall, Let’s Make a Deal started in 1963 and ran sporadically every decade since. Wayne Brady currently hosts the show, which was revived again in 2009. The game show calls audience members from the stands, offers them a prize, and then offers them an opportunity to trade. The contestants don’t know what they are being offered until after they agree or disagree to the deal. Participants often dress in costume to attract attention in order to play. Hopefully, the lingering humiliation of dressing as the Little Bo Peep on national television is worth it, and they don’t get a zonk.
10. Newlywed Game
Bob Eubanks hosted The Newlywed Game when it debuted in 1966, and at 28, he was the youngest person to ever host a game show. The game puts newly married couples against each other to see which of the couples know each other better. Sherri Sheppard is the latest host of the series, which still continues to run in syndication. The best aspect of this series is learning intimate things you never wanted to know about strangers.
11. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
Based on the game played on Howard Stern’s radio show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader premiered in 2007 as a special in primetime and was then developed into a series. Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, the format pits adults against grade school students and quizzes them on grade school subjects. Losing contestants are “drop outs” and “quitters” while winners can proudly proclaim that they are smarter than fifth graders. Fifth graders really aren’t as smart as this show wants you to believe. Give those kids five years and they’ll forget everything they learned when they were eleven too.
12. Hollywood Squares
Quizmaster Peter Marshall was the first host for the program from its premiere in 1966 until 1981. A hybrid comedy and game show, Hollywood Squares offered both quizzes and jokes with its format. Contestants would play a game of tic-tac-toe with a grid of potential X’s and O’s occupied by celebrities, usually comedians. Contestants would ask a question, and the grid members would provide an answer – sometimes a bluff if they didn’t know. The contestants were left to judge if the answers were correct or not. While the celebrities received a lot more prep than any game show should give, the results were hilarious.
Caryn K. Hayes is an L.A. based writer-producer-director-production coordinator-quality control agent-bartender hailing from New Orleans. She has produced, written, directed, and coordinated numerous web series, documentary and corporate videos, short films and commercials. In 2007, Caryn wrote “The Ridge,” a spec teen drama, which won the 2007 TV Pilot Award from the Organization of Black Screenwriters, and in 2009 she repeated her win with the adult dramedy, “Dirty Thirties.” Caryn created “The World of Cory & Sid,” a comedic web series, which was nominated for Best Television or Web Series in 2009 by the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival. In between her various freelance gigs, she produces sketch comedy with BrevityTV.com, and is currently in post-production with “Breaking Point,” a soap opera web series. Engaging and fun, Caryn can also mix over 250 drinks and is comfortable with high volume.