We’ve been hearing so many good things about a documentary special that’s airing Sunday night, that we can’t wait to sit in front of the television and ____. The Real Match Game Story: Behind The Blank goes behind the scenes of the wild Seventies TV game show that played out more like a drunken swingers cocktail party and, as it turns out– was!
In other hands, the Game Show Network’s hour could be a Confessions of A Dangerous Mind or at least a Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three’s Company– the material’s that good. The Match Game was a run-of-the mill 1960s afternoon game show with host Gene Rayburn having civilians and celebrities match fill-in-the-blank questions. After the show was resurrected in 1973– with the same host and same bland material– it faced cancellation by CBS, until the writers began adding risquÃ© humour to the questions (and the writers included Dick DeBartolo and other jokers from Mad magazine).
“Every morning, John puts ____ on his cereal” became “Every morning, John puts butter on his ____.” The outrageous suggestiveness paid off and the show became the highest-rating afternoon show in history. We remember Match Game for its hip panel of disco-era semi-celebs like Brett Somers, the gravel-voiced ex-wife of Jack Klugman, Richard Dawson, and the great Charles Nelson Reilly. Half the time they appeared to be half in the bag, and the doco reveals that half the time, they were.
The Real Match Game Story appears, coincidentally we’re sure, along with the recent release of a star-studded four-DVD greatest hits package. The special includes interviews with Dawson, Somers, Marcia Wallace, Betty White and Jimmy Walker, show staffers and one of Rayburn’s last interviews (he died in 1999).
The special airs at 8 p.m. Sunday night, and just might be the perfect family viewing after the strenuous weekend. But it’s also up against The Amazing Race, so you might want to set the TiVo. Jamie Farr narrates and a Match Game marathon follows. So turn on the TV, turn out the lights, and ____.