Game shows have been a popular and important part of television since the earliest days of television history. Audiences have always been captivated watching ordinary people win prizes, win huge amounts of money, and make complete jackasses of themselves playing games on television. All of us, at one time or another, has dreamed of getting on a game show and becoming an instant millionaire or celebrity – including your esteemed author. |
I am never one to blow my own horn, but it will be no surprise to many of my adoring fans that I was seriously considered as a potential contestant on several well know television game shows when I was younger. I tried out for The Dating Game, but was unfairly eliminated in a round of contestant screenings when someone revealed that I was married with children. I also tried out for Jeopardy, but once again lost out when I hilariously insisted on spelling out the puzzles in Japanese. Their loss!
Game show hosts such as Bob Barker and Pat Sajak have become American television institutions and game shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire have been huge ratings and popular successes. Game show catch phrases such as "Come on Down" and "Whats Behind Door Number 1" have become part of the lexicon of Americans.
Successful game shows such as The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, have entertained audiences for years and made millions of dollars for the shows’ producers and networks. However, not all game shows have enjoyed such an illustrious history. Take a look at some game shows that were epic FAILS.
Risk Manager Showdown
On this high energy game show, full of nail-biting suspense and highly charged comedy, professional risk managers met with state and local government officials to assess potential financial risks associated with the issuance of long-term construction bonds on planned road projects. Audience members awarded points to risk manager contestants who successfully combined solid insurance quotes and liability strategies with humorous stories about disability coverage screw-ups and silly impersonations of elected officials presenting requests for proposals dressed in drag.
Finalist competed against each other in a lightning round where each risk manager was given ten seconds to name as many potential economic indicators that could negatively affect returns on non-fixed rate bonds if inflation remains steady, as possible, within the time allowed. The winners of Risk Manager Showdown were given a year’s supply of pencils and erasers. Despite excellent ratings and favorable audience polling data, the show was cancelled after a few shows when the producer was unable to secure affordable collision automobile insurance on the show’s catering truck.
Punch Buggy – No Punch Back
Based upon the popular kid’s car game, this game show promoted good old fashioned violence between family members as its main entertainment premise. Contestants were filmed while being driven around Los Angeles in a special camera-equipped van. They were awarded points by the congenial host if they were the first family member to spot a Volkswagon Beetle (commonly know as a “punch buggy”) or some other specified object and then punch their other family members as hard as possible while yelling “Punch Buggy – No Punch Back”. To spice up the game contestants were given access to baseball bats, blackjacks and nunchuck sticks in order to inflict more hilarious damage on their family. Extra points were given if the attacker produced blood or was able to expose broken bones or torn muscle tissue during the “punch buggy” attack.
Although family members who were attacked were prohibited from direct physical retaliation due to the mystical protection of the “Punch Buggy – No Punch Back” chant, family members were allowed to fight back with nasty verbal assaults, booger flinging, and by throwing violent family members out of the car in bad neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Complaints by the American Automobile Association that violence on the show adversely affected the ability of Risk Managers to purchase collision automobile insurance on catering trucks, caused producers to pull the plug on the show.
The Looney Tune Track and Field Literary Review
This game show was huge favorite of nerdy fans of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig and of intellectual elitist who rarely watched television game shows. The show’s confusing, yet endearing, premise had Looney Tune characters dress in disguise as famous literary authors while participating in various track and field events. Princeton literature professors would guess which famous author was being portrayed by the disguised Looney Tune character. Producers felt that Daffy Duck pole vaulting dressed as Jane Austen provided both educational and comic value to the audience. My favorite show had a bird theme and featured Tweety Bird dressed as Charles Dickens running in the 100 yard dash against The Road Runner dressed as Emily Bronte. It was a touching moment in sports and literary history.
The show was hosted by fan favorite, Elmer Fudd, who captured just the right mix of academic snobbery and blustering idiot in his hosting of the show. Mr. Fudd not only served as announcer for the track and field events, but also recited famous passages from treasured novels at the conclusion of each event. Nothing can compare to the thrill of hearing Elmer Fudd quoting Elizabeth Barrett Browning in his own emotionally wrenching style, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and bweadth and height my soul can weach." The show was quickly canceled as being too intellectual for American audiences, but sometimes can be seen following Masterpiece Theatre on your local PBS channel.
Although these games shows will go down in history as epic FAILS, the imagination of game show developers can never be underestimated. We can always count on them to come up with new and even more tasteless and offensive game shows in the future, and I for one am all for it. Game shows give us a chance to win fame and fortune making complete fools of ourselves - which is something that I have great natural talent for doing. Game show-loving readers - COME ON DOWN!
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