"If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It": The Top 5 Worst Game Show Revivals of All Time

Over a year ago, I developed a list of the top five greatest game show revivals of all time. Among the Top Five were shows like Family Feud and The Price Is Right, two shows that are loved by millions of viewers around the world to this very day. While there were revivals that successfully upgraded their original predecessors and made us love the show even more, there were a few revivals that disgraced the name of the game. This week’s article is dedicated to the top five worst game show revivals of all time! Enjoy!

#5: GSN’s Lingo (2011)

In 2002, GSN (known specifically as Game Show Network at the time) added the challenging word game Lingo to their roster of original programming. For those of you who have never heard of this show, the basic premise of Lingo is to try to guess as many five-letter words as possible in order to earn numbered Lingo balls to mark off five numbers in row on your Lingo card. The team who fared the best in the main game had a chance to play in the Bonus Lingo Round for a minimum of $5,000. Check out the clip below to see a team win $41,000 in the Bonus Lingo Round. Over the years, Lingo became GSN’s most successful game show, especially with Chuck Woolery and Shandi Finnessey hosting a majority of the series. The long-running GSN game show was cancelled after five seasons and airing over 300 episodes. Five years later, GSN decided to revive the series due to popular demand by the fans and the good ratings the series showed during re-runs. Little did they know that even though the Lingo revival featured a $100,000 grand prize, the revival would ultimately become a flop.

The 2011 version of Lingo was hosted by stand-up comedian and actor Bill Engvall. While Engvall did a good job of hosting the show, the show’s gameplay and overall flow left much to be desired. First, the main game was changed from a two-round timed match to a three-round set word count match. For a show like this, the only thing that needed to be changed was the points being transformed into dollars. Second, the Bingo aspect of the game was not being used to its full potential like in the previous seasons of Lingo. Third, the game was dumbed down considerably compared to the previous seasons. Fourth, but not least, the sexually suggestive clues used for the words were completely unnecessary. With the combination of the loud, obnoxious, clueless contestants and the endless use of sexually suggestive clues, GSN ruined an otherwise great game show by airing this horrid Lingo revival. So far, there is no news concerning the renewal of the Lingo for a second season. Honestly, I think GSN is better off by just killing the show now.

#4: Temptation: The New Sale of The Century (2007)

In 2007, FremantleMedia decided to revive the fast-paced 1980’s trivia game show Sale of the Century with the premiere of Temptation: The New Sale of the CenturySale of the Century was a game show where three contestants answered questions for spending money and often spend the game money on “Instant Bargain” prizes such as a $2,600 trip to Bermuda for only $11. The contestants also had a chance to spend their game money on even bigger prizes like a $5,500 fur coat for $181 or a $41,000 Mercedes Benz for on $390. This incredible high stakes trivia game show was hosted by Jack Kelly from 1969 to 1971, Joe Garagiola from 1971 to 1974, and later by Jim Perry from 1983 until the show’s finale in 1989.

Almost two decades later, Temptation premiered in syndication with Rossi Morreale as the host. Temptation was not only based on the U.S. version of Sale of the Century, this show was also based on the Australian game show of the same name. The U.S. version of Temptation sucked out all the magic and excitement that made Sale of the Century the great show it was. The show was dull and quiet for the most part with spurts of excitement here and there, a majority of the prizes were geared towards women, the main game was mainly comprised of 30-second speed rounds, and the grand prizes were rather cheap for Sale of the Century standards. Needless to say, this Sale of the Century revival only lasted for one season due to extremely poor ratings. In fact, the U.S. version of Temptation was the least-watched game show on broadcast television in 2008.

#3: Trivial Pursuit: America Plays (2008)

During the 1980s and 1990s, there were a few game shows that surrounded their premise around popular board games such as Yahtzee, Scrabble, and even Monopoly. In 1993, The Family Channel followed suit and developed the board game-based game show Trivial Pursuit. Like the board game, the object of the game was to obtain six category wedges and fill you game pie by answering a question correctly in each category. On the television game show, three contestants played against each other and had to answer two questions in a category to fill one wedge. The player who filled their pie first or had the most pieces filled in before time ran out, won the game and played the bonus round. In the bonus round, the winning contestant had 45 seconds to answer a question correctly in each category in order to get all six wedges to fill the pie. Answering six questions correctly before time ran out won the contestant $1,000 plus a bonus trip. With Wink Martindale as the host, Trivial Pursuit was a pretty good game show to watch, despite the fact that it was a low budget game show. This show even spawned a UK series, which lasted for three seasons. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Trivial Pursuit was pulled off the air after lasting for two years. For a show like this, creating a revival for Trivial Pursuit would be fairly easy to do. All that would need to be changed are the increasing dollar values and attaching prizes to the Bonus Questions.

In 2004, ESPN created their own version of Trivial Pursuit with Roger Lodge as the host. Click here to check out an excerpt of the show. Sadly, this version only lasted for a season. After watching an episode of this show, I couldn’t help but wonder that this show should have lasted at least one more season. It wouldn’t be until five years later that we would see another Trivial Pursuit revival. In 2008, Trivial Pursuit: America Plays premiered in syndication with former Brady Bunchchild star Christopher Knight as the host. In this Trivial Pursuit revival, three contestants are not only playing against themselves, but also against “America’s Team”. “America’s Team” is comprised of home viewers asking their questions to the contestants on the show via webcam. The premise of the show was interesting and innovative, but not properly executed. The main problem the show had was execution of the main game. If you have ever seen an episode of the show or have read the game show’s rules, Trivial Pursuit: America Plays focuses less on selecting categories to fill their pie properly, and it shows in the Hot Pursuit Round and the contestants being awarded for wedges they already have. Aside from the ill-proper gameplay, this was a good show with a decent host as well. The short-lived revival even aired special celebrity weeks including “Brady Week” and “TV Judges Week”.

#2: Shop ‘Til You Drop (2003)

Number two on the list this week is a game show that is most famous for being paired with Supermarket Sweep during the weekday lineup on Lifetime and PAX: Shop ‘Til You Drop. This well-known 90’s game show took place in “shopping mall” built in a studio where two teams competed in physical stunts and answered questions related to shopping and entertainment for points. The team with the most points won the game and had the chance to “shop ‘til they dropped” by running through the mall and picking up gift boxes with prizes inside. If the team could find prizes that added up to $2,500 or more, they won a dream vacation (usually to Hawaii) in addition to the prizes they have already won in the bonus round. Shop ‘Til You Drop lasted for an incredible seven seasons from 1991- 2002 and aired on three different networks during its run. The series was also revived twice during the Pat Finn era, once under the title The New Shop ‘Til You Drop. From frantically running up and down the stairs to trade prizes to trying to guess the price of a blender while playing hopscotch, Shop ‘Til You Drop had all the elements to make the game fun and exciting to play, as well as fun to watch. Also, the great chemistry between Pat Finn and the announcers throughout the series made the show even more entertaining to watch.

In 2003, the series was revived and revamped for one last time with a new host, JD Roberto, and a completely new set. This would turn out to be a bad idea. The mall was transformed into a warehouse store (like a Costco or a Sam’s Club) and the physical stunts were replaced by question and pricing rounds played on an off-stage computer screen. Fortunately, the Shopper’s Challenge Round, the Shopper’s Special, and the Shop ‘Til You Drop bonus round were unchanged in the 2003 revival. With the elimination of the physical challenges, the amusing interactions between the host and the announcer, and some of your favorite mall department stores such as 24 Carats and Von Schiffendecker’s Furniture, the show is simply just not the same as it was during the 90’s. All the changes made in the 2003 revival made the show difficult to watch, including the set downgrading to a disorganized, cramped warehouse store. Even though the new, remixed theme music was a nice touch (without the inclusion of the annoying lyrics), the 2003 revival of Shop ‘Til You Drop failed to recapture the greatness of the original 90’s version, and also proved that change isn’t good all the time.

#1: Card Sharks (2001)

Saving the worst for last, we now come to the worst revival of all time. This week’s list-topper is the game show of high stakes, big risk, and even bigger playing cards: Card Sharks.

Card Sharks was a 70s game show where two contestants predicted the outcome of how many people, out of 100, would react to certain hypothetical situations. After answering the question, the contestants had to predict whether the cards in their row were either higher or lower than the one preceding it. If you’re reading about this show for the very first time, the premise may seem boring and simple. But, when you combine an energetic host (as Jim Perry was), contestants who were equally as excited as the host, interesting thought-provoking questions, and a gambling style atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a Las Vegas casino, it all adds up to a great, exciting game show as Card Sharks was. The clip below features a contestant dominating the Money Cards bonus round and winning over $28,000 in cash on a single turn of a card. The NBC version of Card Sharks lasted for three years, until the show was revived by CBS in 1986 with Bob Eubanks as the host. The CBS revival left a majority of the rules unchanged and only made necessary changes in the set, the top prize in the Money Cards round, and the addition of the prize cards (syndicated version), audience poll, and the car bonus game. For the three years the CBS revival was on the air, the show successfully managed to recapture the excitement within the show and made the right changes and alterations where needed. For a show like this, one would really have to go out of their way to ruin this classic game show. Twelve years later, the producers of the 2001 syndicated Card Sharks revival would manage to do just that.

Watching an episode of the 2001 version of Card Sharks almost made me hate the entire series. While this version had numerous issues and problems, here were the two major problems:

Starting From Scratch: The producers completely scrapped the entire original main game format and had their contestants playing on only one row of seven cards. The contestants couldn’t freeze at any time or even simply change the card with answering a “Clip Chip” question correctly (see picture on left)Four players now played on each episode in a single-elimination tournament style match and the survey toss-up questions were completely removed. Changing the main game format to having two contestants play on only one deck of cards was a horrible idea! This not only dulls the show down tremendously, but it also shows that the producers put little to no effort in the creation of this show. At least in the past Card Sharks shows, the sets were designed with a playing card-based theme. In this Card Sharks revival, the set looks plain and unappealing for a show like this. The best prop they have on the set are the contestants’ podiums designed like Blackjack tables. To add insult to injury, the host no longer had the responsibility to reveal the cards. The hostess pressed a button to reveal the card and flipped the cards herself during the Money Cards Bonus Round. Once again, signs of laziness by the producers and the host.

The Money Cards and the “Big Bet”…Whoops! I mean the “Major Wager”: After watching the same boring, almost question-less games played by four players for about 20 minutes, we finally come to the “highlight” of the night: the Money Cards. The good news is that the revival raised the top prize in the Money Cards bonus round to over $50,000. The bad news is they screwed up everything else in this round. Instead of keeping the money they won in the front game, the winning contestant was now forced to bet that money in the bonus round. The card distribution was also unnecessarily altered, as well as the “Big Bet” title, which was ridiculously renamed the “Major Wager”. The Money Cards were divided into a sort of a pyramid format with one row of three cards, one row of two cards, and one card on top, as opposed to the classic 3-3-1 card arrangement. I hate to keep bring this up, but once again, this comes back to the producers’ laziness. How hard is it to build a nicer podium for the bonus round, a nicer bonus board than that poor excuse for a Money Cards board, and add one more card to the bonus round? But, I digress. Check out the show below to judge for yourself.

The producers even managed ripped off another horrible game show (Hold Everything!, also hosted by Pat Bullard) with the inclusion of the Clip Chip hidden camera scenarios. In order to properly revive Card Sharks, the producers should have kept the premise of the main game unchanged, brought back the Car Bonus Game at the end of the Money Cards round, added prize cards to the main game decks, added bonuses for exact predictions and clearing a whole row of cards in one try during the main game, pick a much better host, create a better theme for the set. I can honestly say that the 2001 Card Sharks revival is the worst game show revival of all time!

(DIS)HONORABLE MENTION: GSN’s 1 vs. 100 (2009)

1 vs. 100 originally aired on NBC for two seasons with comedian Bob Saget as the host. As stated in the title, this show awarded $1,000,000 to “The One” contestant if they could eliminate all 100 of their opponents. During the time, the show was so successful that it even spawned a video game version for Xbox Live, where Xbox Live Gold members played against each other for Microsoft Points. Sadly, the show was cancelled after two seasons, despite the fact that the show kicked off its second season by crowning its first million-dollar winner. But like the fans of GSN’s lingo, people couldn’t get enough of 1 vs. 100 after its cancellation.

Two years later, GSN debuted the revival of 1 vs. 100 with Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba as the host. In this version, the grand prize was greatly reduced down to $50,000 and all 100 members of The Mob were now shown via webcam on a big screen. One of the main problems with GSN’s revival was the host. The host’s “excitement” for the contestants and their in-game performance seemed forced and ingenuine. The other problem with the show was that The Mob isn’t there in person. Their presence in the studio and watching their reactions and personalities in person made the show more interesting to watch. According to a game show blog on About.com, if the show were to be renewed for a second season, Carrie Ann Inaba will not return as the host. In my opinion, I think GSN should just take the loss and cancel 1 vs. 100, as they will probably do with the new Lingo.

**All screenshots have been taken from the actual episodes of the title shows. No ownership is implied.**

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    No Match Game '98. Shame Shame.


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