There is something about the TV game show that has kept it going in the minds of viewers, even doing its down times certain games shows with lots of heritage behind them were able to continue. It was until the late 1990’s that game show were on the upswing. They moved away from the cheese and towards something that a you would call a 21st Century arena, but on the other hand some shows took the “Win Lose or Draw” route and found success as well…with a much better game. So here is a list of I what consider the most popular game shows for adults. I will do list for best children’s game show later, as well another list of adult games cause their so many out there for the Big Kids but for the cream of the crop here are the best of the best Adult game shows.
10. Hollywood Game Night: This one is the youngest of the bunch among many veteran titles. The ideal is simple; HGN takes place in the TV house of actress, comedian, singer Jane Lynch (famous for playing Cheerleader Coach/SponsorSue Sylvester on the Musical Dramedy “Glee”) along with her house band Dean Butterworth and the “Scorekeepers.” Lynch invites eight people on two teams of four to come over to play a series of party games. Each team consists of three celebrities and an actual contestant. There are endless types of party games and some of them would cost a whole lot of money if you tried to do them at home. The games can range from answering questions about celebrities, guess correct lyrics to a hit song, acting out the songs while those receiving the clues can’t hear the song themselves, guess the location in which the players want to travel and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Five different game are played on each show and after the five games the team with the most points gives the winning contestant of that team a shot to win $25,000. That winning contest also gets to choose two celebrities from each team to play for $10,000 for a charity of their choice. The end game has the celebrities giving the clues to the contestants about other celebrities. Get ten of them in 90 seconds and the top prizes will be won. Otherwise it’s a $1,000 for each correct guess per contestant and the two celebrities. Jane herself won two Emmys for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for presenting this show. As long as HGN can come up with more creative games along with an “outdoor set” (in which a single game will be played) that was just introduced this season, this game show hopefully has a long life.
9. Password (Counting all versions: Classic, …Plus/Super…, and Million Dollar): I am consolidating every incarnation of this game show but the basic rule of this show have stayed the same over the years. Password is the creation of Bob Stewart and Password was among several game shows he created for the legendary Mark Goodson and his Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production company. One that was basic in all the versions. Two team consisting of a celebrity and a contestant. The object of the game was to get your partner to guess the Password by giving one and only one-word clues (two or more words, a hyphenated word, “coined” words, or any part or form of the password are illegal). On classic Password a correct answer of the first clue would reward a team a maximum score of 10 points and the clue values decreasing with each clue given. The goal for the teams is to accumulate of score of 25 points to win a match (takes two matches to win a game) and win either $100 or $250 depending on in which version (daytime or primetime respectfully) the contestant was on. On top of that they also get to play a lighting round in which the contestant had to guess five different passwords in under a minute for more money. The Classic Password versions ran on CBS in the early to mid-1960’s and on ABC in the early to mid-1970’s. In 1979 NBC would revive the show under the title Password Plus with an added wrinkle to the game called “The Password Puzzle.” You still had your Passwords but the passwords in each round (four total) are common with a person, place or thing. You must guess correctly what the solution to Password Puzzle is in order to score and win money. In order for a contestant to win the game itself they must reach $300 (and later $500) and that means getting three or two Password Puzzles solved depending on your score. Password Plus also developed a different end game originally title Alphabetics in which the contestants are given 10 words beginning with a consecutive letter of the Alphabet thus the name “Alphabetics.” If the first word started with C then the last word would start with L. Like the lightening round they must get all 10 words in under a minute in order to win the top prize in the game. Password Plus ran from 1979-1982. In 1984 NBC brought the Password Plus rules game show back under the title Super Password with an added mid bonus round added called Ca$hworld in which the contestant winning the second puzzle gets to win at least $1,000 (with $1,000 added to the pot of not won) by guessing a Password with only three clues that the Celebrity can use. While Super Password did not call their main end game Alphabetics it did retain the rules of it using 10 consistent letters. Winning the endgame on Password won the contestant $5,000 and Super Password had a growing jackpot starting at $5,000 with another $5,000 added if not claimed. Million Dollar Password revamped the show once again. In the front game, each contestant plays two 30 second rounds guessing a total of five different passwords. Halfway the celebrities will switch contestants which can be a game changer for better for worse. The winning contest gets the chance to climb Million Dollar Password’s ladder for a shot at the Million. Whoever the celebrity gained the most points for their respected with will also be the contestant’s winning partner. Each round here is 90 seconds and there is a quota that must be met in order to win a respect step of money. The first step requires that five out of ten passwords needed to be solved in order to win $10,000, the second round required five out of nine passwords to be solved to win a guaranteed $25,000 (should the contestant lose along the way afterwards) and should the contest reach the final step all five passwords must be correctly solved. On top of these quotas the clue giver can only give a maximum of three clues (like the Ca$hword bonus in Super Password) and once all the clues are given or its passed on the password is tossedout of play thus winning One Million like any other show attempting to give it away is a challenge. Million Dollar Password did not last as long as the other versions of Password (MDP ran for two seasons) but it was among the great versions of Password that viewers watched over the years. They all were great versions of a show that all and all had one common rule. One Word Guesses to a Single Word.
8. Let’s Make A Deal: CBS and Fremantle Media have been on roll with the current rival of this game that was co-created by the original host of the show Monty Hall. The premise of the game is simple. The dealer would choose among the many contestants/traders who came in costume (although this was not the case when the show was brand new but eventually costumed traders were the precedent). The host would make a deal usually decided between an amount of cash vs. a secret prize concealed behind a Curtain or a Box big or small. If the trader decided to take the Curtain or Box they would win whatever was behind them including prizes they did not want and those were called Zonks. Granted most Zonks were impractical for the trader to actually take home but sometimes even Teddy Bears, Wheelbarrows were among the bobby prizes but of low value and could be taken home with the trader. A zonked trader would normally win $100 in cash. However, the lucky trader could win household items, vacations, Cars etc etc. The current CBS version also has Dealing Games ranging from games of chance (like the Piggy Bank one) to quizzes that keep the current LMAD fresh and exciting…but the basic game of dealing and avoiding Zonks are still the basics of the show, and another Basic is its end game called “The Big Deal.” In the current version only one trader (it used to be two traders) can play it and must trade everything they won as well. The top dollar winner of day’s show is given the first opportunity to play and if they rejected the chance then they go down from there until they find their trader to play. That player must decide which of the three doors he or she wants to have. Whatever is behind it, the contestant wins. There are no Zonks in The Big Deal, all the prizes are good but they may leave the show with a lesser value than what they won coming into the Big Deal. LMAD had been known for its hard decisions and lots could haves, would haves, and should haves. But that’s how you Deal on :Let’s Make A Deal” and still many want to take on its risks and rewards should they get on the show and be given a chance to make a TV deal.
7. Match Game: The 1960’s Match Game had a great eight year run on NBC, but it was the 1970’s revival that was the most successful and the most popular version. Both version of the game show were hosted by Gene Rayburn who was a successful media personality prior to hosing Match Game. His relationship with Mark Goodson and Bill Todman was tight and he appeared as a panelist on their game shows “What’s My Line” and “To Tell The Truth” very frequently. Goodson and Todman felt that Match Game would be a perfect match for Rayburn. While the original Match Game rules were different than the famous 70’s rule the 1960’s version did lay the ground work for that future incarnation the show game allowing risqué clues. The audience loved it and Match Game was saved from cancelation…until 1969. CBS decided to pick up Match Game in 1973 after the success of its then retooled version of “The Price Is Right.” The more popular version of Match Game had two contestants going head to head to match the most celebrities for a chance to win up to $5,000 (later $10,000) on the daytime version and $10,000 (later $20,000) on the weekly PM version. A daily syndicated version of Match Game also ran from 1979 until 1982 in which a contestant could win up to $21,000 in the Super Match endgame. Revivals of the show happen in 1983 (when it was combined with Hollywood Squares), a 1991 version hosted by Ross Schafer, and a 1998 version in which there were only five celebrities instead of six. Currently there is a Canadian version of Match Game that has proven to be successful in Canada. That version is hosted by Darrin Rose featuring regular panelists’ comediansSeán Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni. Eventually in American another attempt at Match Game had been tried and it’s sticking around at least for a while with Alec Baldwin as host.
6. Pyramid: Bob Stewart created a lot of game shows for Mark Goodson, but he proposed another word association game show ideal that was similar to Password but allowed to clue giver to use more words. Goodson decided to pass on it and Stewart decided to part and lost all the rights to the shows he created. However, by 1973 the show that he proposed to Goodson finally got greenlighted by CBS, which was the $10,000 Pyramid. This show was held on to Stewart with his dear life until 1994 when he sold his interests to Sony PicturesTelevision. Pyramid was an instant hit but slipping ratings prompted CBS to cancel it. ABC quickly picked it up and it was a hit again. In 1976 the maximum amount of money that can be won was upped to $25,000 and the $25,000 Pyramid was still running until 1980. Three years later CBS picked up Pyramid again with that version running from 1982-87, and briefly in 1988 when a replacement game show for “The (New) $25,000 Pyramid”was a bust. All of these primary versions of Pyramid during the 1970’s and 80’swere hosted by Dick Clark. There were several revivals recently. Two of the best known were hosted by Donny Osmond and the current summer version hosted by former New York Giants Defense End Michael Strahan. Since the beginning of this game show, the basic game play stayed the same. As with Password, two teams played the teams consisted of One Celebrity and one Contestant. In the main game in which two teams competed for a chance to win money in the game’s “Winners Circle,” they would have their choice of six different subjects which are listed by punned statements (like “I’m All Wet”) and what they would be about would not be revealed until it was called for (“Things associated with Water”) unless it was a Mystery 7 subject (first introduced in 1982) then it would be reviled once the subject package was done being played. Each of the subjects had seven words (six in the Osmond version) that had to be guessed correctly within 30 Seconds (20 second in the Osmond version). The clue givers can describe anyway they like to as long as they don’t give out an illegal clue or part of the word in the description or its essence, otherwise the “Cuckoo Bird” calls them out (or a Zapping sound in the Osmond version). Each correct response scored one point. The team with themost points after all six subjects are played gets to go to the “Winners Circle” for a chance to win the big money. Regardless if the top prize was $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000, the rules for the Winners Circle were very strict. Believe it or not in the early years of Pyramid you could use your hands, but by the time it switched to ABC, the “No Hands Rule” was established (coupled with Hand Straps and/or putting them under your backside) and stuck with Pyramid ever since. Also you could only give a “List” of clues that fit the subject of the Category. For instance, if you are given the Subject “The Ten Commandments” you are to list those Commandments. You mention Moses, that is an illegal clue and it’s tossed out (this did actually happen). The “What…Might Say” subjects are somewhat looser and are usually the easiest clues to get correctly. Each subject guessed correctly earns a certain amount of money depending in where it is on the tier, that and the other clues guess correctly will decided the amount of money won should the contestant fail to get all six correct. Just recently the Strahan version of Pyramid was renewed for a third season for the summer of 2018. There is something about this game show that was inspired by the last of the Seven Wonders still standing.
5. Family Feud: This show was inspired by the Audience Match half of Match Game’s “Super Match” end game. However rather than a survey in which the audience had to fill in the blank statement, they survey 100 people at random asking various questions about certain things and habits and list a number of top answers that must be uncovered. Each round in the front game starts with a face-off with two rival family members in the same pecking order. Once the question is asked the one who buzzed in first gets a chance to try get the most popular answer. If they get number one they have control of the game with the option of playing the board or passing it (except for the Ray Combs version) to their opponents. If any of the other answers are reviled the oppose team will get a chance to guess better (greater than what their opponent was able to uncover) and take control of the game with the same Pass/Play options. The playing family must get all the remaining answers left on the board. If they guess an answer that is not one the answers the board, they get a strike. Three strikes and the opposing family gets one shot to steal the points. With some exceptions, the goal of Family Feud is to reach 300 points. The family that is successful in reaching that threshold wins the game and plays the Fast Money end game. In Fast Money two family members of the winning family must come up with answers to five different survey questions. The first family member is given 15 seconds (later 20 Seconds) to come up with the answers to the questions given. After the questions are locked in or time elapsed the host and family member review the answers given and learn how many in the survey agreed with those respected answers. The process is repeated with the second family member who was sequestered backstage and could not hear any their family members’ answers. They are asked the same questions and are now given 20 Seconds (later 25 seconds) to come up with different answers. If they answer with the same answers that were given by their follow family member (a “duplicating answer”) an “Uh-Uh” buzzing sound goes off and they must give a different answer. If the combined two family members rack up 200 points or more they win the Big Money prize. Otherwise its $5 per point scored. Feud’s popularity soared with Richard Dawson as host of the show (he was also a panelist on Match Game and become the contestant choice to go “Head To Head” in that portion of the Super Match end game) known for kissing the ladies and playing the ladies’ man. Years later Family Feud has become popular once again with Steve Harvey as host and his outlook on life and some of his reactions to the polls presented on the show. Family Feud is not about smarts and how much you know about facts and figures. It’s about picking the brains of the 100-people surveyed and how they reacted to the question.
4. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: This game show from the UK not only helped the audience rekindle its love for TV game show, it also made the bigger money game shows cool once again, and even convinced established game shows to offer a $1 Million prize…and in the case of Jeopardy!, a play till your defeated rule. It even gave Twenty One a chance for a little redemption. Twenty One is many knew by its history was a rigged game show during the 1950’s, even though its creators (Jack Barry and Dan Enright) made a successful comeback in the 1970’s with The Joker’s Wild and Tic Tac Dough (the Wink Martindale era had a play till you lose rule as well). Getting back to Millionaire, the first version appeared on UK TV in September 1998 with UK Media Personality Chris Tarrant as host. One year later the game show appears as an event series in America with Regis Philbin as host and was able to give himself some distance from his then co-host Katie Lee Gifford for a while. Certain rule changes have been made over the years but the core rules stay the same. You must answer a certain amount ofquestions one at a time in order to win the 1 Million and beat the game itself. When the show began it required 15 questions to win. In the current syndicated version currently hosted by Chris Harrison (best known for hosting The Bachelor/Bachelorette) it takes 14 questions to win the top prize. All the questions are multiple choice and at least three “lifelines” (the “ask the audience” lifeline being the most consistent lifeline in play) are in play to try to help the player and can only be played once. The ABC version had a “Fastest Finger” round in which they had to put four things in the correct order. The one who can do it the fastest gets a shot at the money. Millionaire is been the long shadow of other syndicated games show that have done much better but Disney is still committed to this big money game show until at least 2018.
3. Jeopardy!: Jeopardy! is the intellectual’s game show. When famed TV Talker and Media Business manMervGriffin created this famed quiz, its concept was that the show would give the contestants the answers by the host and the contestants would have to ring in to give the Correct Question. In every version ofJeopardy!, the two main rounds (Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy!)are played with six categories, and five money amounts and clues behind them with greater difficulty with each one. A correct response adds to player’s score while an incorrect response subtracts from it and give his/her opponents a chance to respond. With the exception of the 1978 version all three players would play both rounds and would also play the nail biting Final Jeopardy! (Which was replaced with Super Jeopardy! in the ‘78 version played by the winner of the Double Jeopardy! round). Final Jeopardy! is what makes and breaks a contestant. The contestants are given the category to what the Final clue will be about and must make a write down a wager to their score. After that is done and a commercial break the clue is reviled. If they write down the correct response (once the clue is given) and write it down before 30 seconds elapse they add to the score, but a wrong response and/or not that phrasing that response in question form will subtract from their score. Many contestants have been great at strategizing their scores and able to slip in a win and many paydays. The current version hosted by famed game show host Alex Trebek (Art Fleming hosted the original version of the quiz show) who has been on since 1984 and shows no sign of going off the air anytime soon. Thanks to Millionaire as described above, Jeopardy! also added a no limit winning rule which allowed contestants to keep playing the game until they were finally defeated (just as it was on the Wink Martindale era of Tic Tac Dough). The most popular contestant to benefit from this rule was Computer scientist Ken Jennings who won 74 times before finally submitting to defeat (winning a total of $3,196,300 including the $2,000 second place prize on his final day). On a January 18, 2016 broadcast of Jeopardy! all three contestants missed the Final Jeopardy! and wagered everything away…only to be replaced with three new contestants on the next broadcast. Something to keep in mind should you make it on Jeopardy!
2. Wheel of Fortune: It seems that Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are TV Game Show’s equivalent of Peanut Butter and Jelly. Like Jeopardy! it is also the creation of Merv Griffin. The core of Wheel is the word game Hangman. Except here there is no Hangman but a wheel with various cash amounts and then some. Wheel is played with three contestants who spin a wheel playing to win money by landing on amounts and getting that amount of money banked by guessing the correct consonant letters to the puzzle. They can also buy vowels which deducts $250 from their bank. In order to claim the money in their bank they must be able to solve the puzzle when it’s their turn. Also, the Bankrupt wedge (including those that sandwich the single Million Dollar wedge) cleans out their bank, and they lose a turn. The Lose a Turn wedge also costs them a turn but not the money banked. All three contestants keep the money that they win on Wheel with the highest scoring player moving on to the Bonus Round to play for more money or a Car. The money amounts in the bonus round ranging from the lowest amount ($1,000 X the current season of Wheel) to $100,000 or $1 Million if the contest claimed the Million Dollar Wedge and was able to hold on to it and win the front game. Believe it or not, this game show was not the mega hit (when it ran on the NBC networks) that it would become until Merv Griffin was able to sell it to then independent syndicator King World in the 1980’s. When the syndicated version hit the air, Wheel was a force to be dealt with and without it there would be no revival of Jeopardy! either.
1. The Price Is Right: For the seven decades this game show has been on, with the current version going back to 1972. TPIR deserves to be the top game show. Sure, you may prefer Wheel or Jeopardy! or maybe Millionaire…perhaps Family Feud is your cup of tea. TPIR however proves to be a survivor and thanks to the current version first hosted by Bob Barker and now Drew Carey its gets to be at the top of this game show list. The Price Is Right was created by Bob Stewart back in the 1956 and the basic game is the bidding of merchandise and getting close to the actual retail price without going over. The original gamehosted by famed game show host Bill Cullen was strictly just a bidding game and the object was to win as many prizes as you can in order to win the game itself and return to play again on the next show. Almost ten years later, the original TPIR waved good-bye, but TPIR’s greatest moment was yet to happen. In 1972 a more cost-efficient version of TPIR was created with contestants chosen from the audience (four at a time) to come to the front of the stage to play a One Bid game. The winner who is closest to the actual retail price without going over wins the prize and gets to go onstage to play a variety of carnival styled game based on the pricing of items and merchandise. A new contestant would replace the contestant that won on stage and the cycle would be repeated two more times (and as we know right now, six pricing games are played per show since 1975).The audience ate this concept of TPIR up and it’s still going strong. Bob Barker who achieved fame in the comedy game show “Truth or Consequences” reached newer heights with TPIR. By 2007 Barker was ready to finally retire and TPIR is still going strong with comedian Drew Carey. The is still a big draw for hopefuls who want their name to be called out to “Come On Down” which its catch phrase was first popularized by the current TPIR’s first announcer Johnny Olson.