Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Top 5 Dating/Relationship Game Shows

Well folks! It (was) that time of the year again: Valentine's Day! In honor of this holiday, I am going to dedicate this week's article by counting down the top five greatest dating game shows of all time. My definition of a "dating game show" is a game show that involves single male and contestants looking for love or couples answering questions about how well they know each other. Let's get to it!

#5: Baggage
Jerry Springer with his "baggage"

This week’s countdown will begin with one of GSN’s newest dating game shows, Baggage. On a quick side note before I begin discussing this show, since I have already mentioned this show in one of my previous articles, I’m just going to say the same thing I had written in my previous article.

Baggage is a GSN original game show which takes The Dating Game to the next level. Like The Dating Game, this show featured one bachelor choosing from three bachelorettes (or vice versa). Each of the three other contestants had a small, medium, and large piece of baggage, representing a secret of their own, such as “having a collection of 5,000 knives” or “being banned in three states”. The game is played in four rounds, with each round revealing a different piece of baggage for each contestant and the main contestant eliminating one the three other contestants in rounds two and three. In the fourth and final round, the main contestant revealed their secret to the chosen contestant by opening their large baggage which contains the main contestant’s secret. If the other contestant accepts the main contestant’s piece of baggage, the two contestants will go on a date. All the expenses for the date are paid for by the show. However, if the other contestant rejects the main contestant’s baggage, the date is off and the main contestant is sent off the stage.

One bachelorette revealing her small piece of baggage
This is the best dating game show I have seen in the past two decades since Love Connection during the 90’s with host Chuck Woolery.  GSN definitely redeemed themselves with the production and overall success of this show, since they have aired shows that were doomed from the start like Instant Recall, Hidden Agenda, and Without Prejudice?. I also forgot how good of a host Jerry Springer is, considering that he is still hosting The Jerry Springer Show.


#4: Studs
The Studs title card

Coming in at number four on this countdown is a game show called Studs. This show, hosted by Mark DeCarlo, combined elements from The Dating Game and Love Connection. Studs ran in syndication from March 11, 1991 until September 3, 1993. Here’s how the game was played: 

Two men, appropriately called the “studs”, would go on three separate dates with three women. On the episode after the dates, DeCarlo would ask the ladies question pertaining to their date before they when on the air. The male contestants would have to match an answer with the woman who said it. Two questions would be asked to each guy before advancing to the next part of the show. On the second part of the show, DeCarlo would give a description of the men and the men would have to guess what the ladies said who best fit the description. Each correct match won the “stud” a stuffed heart. At the end of each episode, each woman decided which “stud” they wanted to go out with again on a second date. If the “stud” chose correctly, the couple won an all-expense paid date to the location of their choice. In the case that both guys chose the right woman, the guy with the most stuffed hearts won the game and the all-expense paid date.

Until this past week, I had never seen an episode of Studs. I had only heard about it on GSN when they listed the show as number 47 on their special countdown of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time. Judging from the three episodes I have seen, this show is filled with surprises and is very entertaining to watch, especially listening to the answers given by the ladies and the rambuncous audience’s response to some of the racy answers, such as “45 minutes of flicking and he finally found the soft, red center” actually referring to a couple playing darts horribly until 45 minutes later the guy hit the bullseye three times in a row.  You can definitely tell that this was a 90’s game show just by judging from the modern set design and on-screen graphics. Mark DeCarlo had similar hosting styles as Chuck Woolery while DeCarlo was doing this show. DeCarlo interacted with the contestants very well and made the show interesting to watch. Something else I have noticed about Studs is the fact that it had incredibly handsome and physically fit men and gorgeous women who you would most likely see on the cover of Cosmopolitan as contestants on the show, for the most part.  In my opinion, this was a good move by the producer and contestant coordinators to pick the contestants that best fit the show’s theme and title, Studs.   Although this show had aired over 500 episodes, I think this show should have lasted for at least three or four more seasons. I’m also really surprised that GSN has not picked this show up to be re-aired on the network, if they haven’t already.  

DeCarlo on Sale of the Century 
Before I close out this portion of the article, here are a few interesting facts about host Mark DeCarlo’s appearance on television:
-  He was originally was a contestant on Sale of the Century, winning a total of $115,257 in cash and prizes
-  He was the voice of Hugh Neutron, Jimmy Neutron’s father, on the Nickelodeon series Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
-  He also appeared in multiple movies and television shows such as Raising Helen and Matlock (to see full list, click here) 

#3: Love Connection
The mid-1980's Love Connection title card

Number three on this week's countdown is another classic 90’s game show “where old fashioned romance meets modern day technology”, as mentioned in the intro of each show. That’s right! I’m talking about Love Connection. Love Connection was a syndicated dating game show hosted by former Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, and future LINGO host Chuck Woolery from September 19, 1983 until July 1, 1994. Of all the shows he has hosted, Woolery is widely known for hosting this show.

The show would begin by Woolery introducing the male or female guest on stage. After we have learned a little bit about the guest, the guest would then be shown clips from the three possible dating candidates. The members of the studio audience would then vote on which candidate the guest should choose. Usually after the audience voted, the show would breakaway to a commercial break. This marked the beginning of Chuck Woolery’s trademark “Two and Two”.  Before each commercial break, Woolery would say his trademark phrase “We’re back in two and two” along with the hand gesture (shown in this video at 2:54). The “two and two” Woolery refers to in his catch phrase represented two minutes and two seconds, the standard length of a commercial break. The guest then announced which of the three potential candidates he or she chose as their date.  Afterwards, Woolery would interview the couple, with the guest sitting with Woolery on stage and the chosen candidate was shown on a big screen being recorded backstage on a closed-circuit television camera. This would be the couple’s first interaction since their date. Each person would then give their viewpoint on how the date went and what happen during the date. Woolery would often act as not only the interviewer, but also as the mediator, facilitator, and sometimes instigator. After the couple discussed their date, the couple decided whether or not to see each other again. If they agreed to a second date and a majority of the studio audience had agreed with the guest’s choice, the couple would reunite on the stage and Woolery would congratulate them for making a “love connection” and the couple went on a second date at the show’s expense. If the date was successful but the audience chose a different candidate, the guest was given a choice between a second date with the original candidate or a date with the candidate chosen by the audience. However, if the date did not go so well  and the couple decided that they did not want to go on a second date, Woolery would send off the original candidate and the actual voting results of the audience would be revealed. In some cases, the guest had the option of going on a date with another candidate of the audience’s choice.

The couple discussing their date
According to an article on EW.com, Love Connection has produced a total of 29 marriages, eight engagements and fifteen children. This show is most remembered for its interviews with the couples. Whether or not the date went well, it was always interesting to hear how the couple’s date went.  Love Connection returned in 1998 with host Pat Bullard, more infamously known for the atrocity that was the 2001 revival of Card Sharks. The rules were the same with the exception of the home viewers now being able to vote on which candidate the guest should choose by voting on the show’s website. These votes were counted with the overall vote with the studio audience. This Love Connection revival lasted for only one season. Love Connection with Chuck Woolery has made several reappearances on television with their reruns airing on USA Network from 1995 until 1997 and on GSN from 2003 until 2009.

#2: The Dating Game

The master of ceremonies, Jim Lange

If there was any show that set the bar for dating game shows, it had to be no other than Chuck Barris’ own production, The Dating Game. This show premiered on ABC in 1965 with Jim Lange, who would later become the host of Bullseye and The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime. This was also the first show created by Chuck Barris. The game was played as follows:

Usually, a bachelorette was presented with three bachelors as potential dates. The three bachelors were concealed behind a wall so that they were heard but not seen by the bachelorette. After Jim Lange introduced the bachelorette and the three bachelors vaguely as “bachelor #1, bachelor #2, and bachelor #3”, the bachelorette would ask the three bachelors questions already written out and pre-approved by the producer to further determine which bachelor  she would choose based on their answers. This interview process lasted for about five minutes, then the bachelorette would have to make her decision. They were given until the end of the commercial break to make their decision. After she made her choice, Lange revealed the true identities of the other two bachelors and a brief bio about them before she introduced to her chosen beau. The couple won a vacation prize package for them to further enjoy their first date.

Lange, the bachelorette, and the three
bachelors
This show was well known for two reasons: their signature sign-off and the number of “soon-to-be” celebrities and well-known celebrities that appeared on the show. At the end of each show, Lange and the two happy couples who paired up during the show would blow a kiss to the home viewers. Additionally, over 50 celebrities have appeared on the show as either one of the three candidates or the one person making the decision including Steve Martin, Ron Howard, and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson (click here for his appearance on the show). The show began with the contestants asking and giving good, clean questions and responses. As the show progressed, the questions and answers became a little more provocative and personal, especially when the celebrities were involved with the game. Overall, The Dating Game is an instant classic, even though it was voted #28 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time. Like Love Connection, The Dating Game also revived its series five times (shown below), including the 1998 revival with host Chuck Woolery. Although some changes were made to some of the revivals such as the bachelorette being able to choose who they wanted to date based on the knowledge of their first name and their appearance, each revival proved to be unsuccessful and could not recreate the same magic as Chuck Barris' show had done. 


Before I move on to the best dating game show of all time, choosing between this show and the number one pick was tough, but the choice had to be made. If it weren't for the number one pick airing new shows with its revival on GSN, The Dating Game would have been my pick for the best dating game show. 

#1: The Newlywed Game 
Various Newlywed Game title cards through
the years 

Eubanks, “whoopee”, and unforgettable: What do these three words have in common?: These words could only describe the greatness that was The Newlywed Game. This was another one of Chuck Barris’ productions that put four newlywed couples against each other to see who knew more about their spouse. The couple with the most points after two rounds of question and the “25-point bonus question” won a second honeymoon vacation or a special grand prize package.  Hosted by Bob Eubanks, this show began on July 11, 1966 on ABC. The moment this show hit the television airwaves, it was an instant success. On a quick side note, Eubanks became the youngest emcee to host a game show at the age of 28. From the wives beating their husbands with the answer cards whenever the husbands answered a question incorrectly to Eubanks using his trademark word “whoopee” to reference “sex” for censorship purposes during the 60’s and 70’s, The Newlywed Game was (and still is) an amusing show to watch. To my knowledge, I believe this show has the most bloopers and unforgettable moments than any other game show on television, including the most infamous and funniest Newlywed Game show moment in its history with Eubanks asking "Where is the weirdest place where you have ever had the urge to make whoopee?" Find out the wife's answer in the video below.



GSN's Newlywed Game Game Show Hosts Special featuring
(from left to right) game show legends Wink Martindale,
Monty Hall, Peter Marshall and their wives. Bob Eubanks
(standing) was the special guest host for this episode
After the show’s first finale in 1974, The Newlywed Game reappeared on syndicated television with several revivals from different hosts, including Eubanks making his return to the show during the late 70’s, mid 80’s (titled The New Newlywed Game), late 90’s, and in one GSN episode in 2010. Paul Rodriguez and Gary Kroeger hosted their own versions of The Newlywed Game, but were not so successful in their attempt. In 2009, GSN premiered with their version of The Newlywed Game with host Carnie Wilson. As mentioned in GSN’s press release, “The Newlywed Game has been a ratings success story for GSN since its debut in April 2009:  Season One premiered to solid ratings, improving each time slot in which it was scheduled, whether in households or target demos”. GSN’s The Newlywed Game also broke new ground as they featured the first same-sex couple to be contestants on the show. The first couple to do this was former Star Trek actor George Takei and his husband Brad Altman. They played in a special Celebrity Edition of the show during the second season with the winner receiving $10,000 toward their charity. For the fourth season, Sherri Shepherd from ABC’s talk show The View took over as the host for the show. The Newlywed Game is currently running on GSN weeknights at 6:00pm.  

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! I hope to see you next week around the same time and the same place right here on "The Blog Is Right"! 

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