"Best of 2013" Top 10 Game Show Moments Countdown

Happy New Year’s Eve! This year was another incredible year for game shows with all-time records being broken left and right, numerous contestants became overnight millionaires and hundreds of thousands of dollars richer within minutes and classic favorites returned to television. With thanks to everyone who voted for their favorite game show moments to be placed in the #10 and #9 rankings, I have once again complied a list of the ten most memorable and unforgettable game show moments that happened in 2013. Considering all that happened this year, It was tough putting the list together (especially with yesterday’s historic moment on a certain Daytime show that made its way onto the list at the last minute). Without further ado, I present to you the final article on The Blog Is Right for 2013 and the “Best of 2013” Top 10 Countdown list. Here’s to 2014!

#10 (Viewer’s Choice): Family Feud: Hutchinson Family Sets All-Time Winnings Record With $160,000 Big Money Tournament Win – January 8, 2013

This year’s “Best of 2013” Top 10 Countdown list will begin with the highlight that covered 11% of the votes: The Hutchinson family setting the new all-time highest winnings record on Family Feud. The year 2012 is the first time the show reinstated the Big Money Tournament since John O’ Hurley hosted the Feud. This edition of the Big Money Tournament lasted from December 31, 2012 to January 8, 2013 and invited eight of the nearly 250 family who played on Family Feud in the two years Steve Harvey hosted the show. The Hutchinson brothers, Jay, Kinnzon, Brent, Kessler and Kyler, made their initial debut in 2010 during Harvey’s first year of hosting, but fell short of winning their first game. The brothers redeemed themselves two years later in the Big Money Tournament by defeating the Wooley family and winning it all. Here are the last few minutes of the final question which led to the Hutchinson’s big payoff.

#9 (Viewer’s Choice): Hollywood Game Night Brings Back ‘Celebrity Game Show’ Sub-Genre – July 11, 2013

This next viewer-picked highlight received a slim 16% majority of the votes: the premiere of Hollywood Game Night. NBC decided to add the new series executive produced by Sean Hayes to its summer schedule. The show is hosted by Jane Lynch and invited two civilian contestants to play with a cast of household-name celebrity guest contestants in a series of party games for a chance for the contestant to win $25,000 and a celebrity contestant to win $10,000 for his/her charity. Per my review, I predicted that Hollywood Game Night would last for at least three seasons and it looks like there is a good chance that it’s going to quietly become a reality because of the following — this show was renewed for a second season before the first one ended, its ratings ranked or tied #1 in its time slot for every episode last season and it was given a schedule and time slot upgrade, going from 10:00pm in the summer to 8:00pm in the winter. Hollywood Game Night also reminded us all why celebrity panel game shows were so popular during the ’70s and ‘80s with the great gameplay and excellent banter and chemistry between the stars, contestants and host. Check out a highlight from the first season of Hollywood Game Night in the video below and stay tuned for more new episodes on January 20 at 8:00pm EST on NBC!

#8: Whose Line Is It Anyway? Returns To Television – July 16, 2013

Ever since the dawn of television, each calendar season has been reserved for certain programming. Popular network staple shows usually air during the fall, reruns and holiday specials air during the wintertime, fall shows resume  in spring after their mid-season hiatuses and summer is dedicated to short-lived and easily forgettable filler shows to keep network schedules fresh during the offseason. This past summer, The CW gave us another reason to stay tuned into summer primetime television by green lighting the renewal the cult classic former ABC improv “game” show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The team of Hat Trick Productions brought the show back in perhaps the best way possible by making proper changes in the show’s set design, host, roster of games and frequency of cameo guest stars (albeit it’s a little bit gimmicky). With the regular cast of  Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mocherie and host Aisha Tyler, Whose Line instantly became a hit on The CW when over 2.95 million viewers (a relatively staggering figure to the network’s standards) tuned in for the show’s premiere night. Take a gander at the clip below and you will discover why this show will be returning for a second season (tenth overall) March 2014.

#7: The Price Is Right: Sheree Heil Sets Daytime Pricing Game Winnings Record & All-Time Daytime Winnings Record – December 30, 2013

This is the second year in a row where a game show moment has snuck into my annual, year-end Top 10 countdown list (the first being last year’s The Chase Christmas celebrity special). The year 2013 was a big year for The Price Is Right. In addition to winning a Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Game Show”, the long-running series has seen two contestants win $100,000 in a pricing game —until a contestant named Sheree Heil came on down and stole the show. During yesterday’s “Best of 2013” episode, Heil won a chance to play “Gas Money” for a 2014 Audi R8 V8 Spyder Quattro S Tronic, a car that was previously featured as one of the five luxury prizes to be potentially won during “Dream Car Week”. If you have never seen “Gas Money” played, its essentially a shorter version of Deal or No Deal, where the contestants have to pick four wrong car prices, one at a time, out of a selection of five price tags before revealing the car’s actual retail price. This is one of the more difficult and riskier pricing games on the show, besides “Temptation”, “Step Up” and “Pay The Rent”, that relies on pricing knowledge rather than luck. Even though Heil was not the Showcase winner for the day, she was undoubtedly the MVP of the show with her incredible grand total of $170,347. This total includes the Audi R8, the $10,000 bonus in the pricing game and the His and Her Leather Prada Collection ($3,047) she won in Contestant’s Row. This makes  her the biggest winner in the history of the Daytime version of The Price Is Right. Check out her amazing win in the clip below as she risked losing $8,000 in guaranteed money to shoot the works.

#6: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (U.S.) – Whose Line? Alum Charles “Chip” Esten Wins $500,000 For Charity

If you are a diehard game show fan, then this moment, coming in at number six on this countdown, should not come as a total shocker considering he was once on a three-day champion on Sale of The Century with a four-day total of over $34,000 in cash and prizes. On the November 21st edition of Millionaire, Charles Esten, from ABC’s Nashville, took his shot at the game for his charity The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Little did he know that Esten would not only tie Drew Carey, Norm MacDonald and Rosie O’ Donnell’s records for “biggest Celebrity Millionaire winner”, he would also become the biggest U.S. Millionaire winner to date under the “Shuffle” format with his $500,000 win and the second contestant this season to make it to the Million-Dollar Question. Check out Charles Esten’s impressive climb to the half-million dollar prize in the episode below.

#5: The Price Is Right – Price Celebrates Bob Barker’s 90th Birthday – December 12, 2013

On December 13, 2003, The Price Is Right celebrated Bob Barker’s 80th birthday with a primetime Million Dollar Spectacular special. Ten years later, producer Mike Richards decided to honor one of the greatest game show hosts of all time by dedicating a show to celebrate Barker’s 90th birthday. Naturally, the special episode aired on his birthday, December 12, in daytime. On the show, Barker made a brief appearance during the first half of the show, announced a contestant to “Come on Down” for the first time ever and presented a Showcase featuring two trips and a new car. Check out Bob’s guest appearance on the show in the clip below.

Editor’s Note: Barker’s 90th Birthday show would have been placed among the Top 3 moments of 2013 if the show were to make it a little more special by airing it in primetime or even have Barker host a pricing game. Other than that, it was an otherwise normal day for The Price Is Right.

#4: GSN Brings The Chase To America – August 6, 2013

On August 6, GSN added a brand new original game show to its primetime schedule called The Chase. Little did they know that they had an instant hit on their hands. Based on the successful U.K. game show of the same name, GSN’s version of The Chase is hosted by Brooke Burns and Mark “The Beast” Labbett acts as the show’s sole Chaser. The show has a team of three contestants going head-to-head against the show’s resident brainiac, Mark Labbett, for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. Like The American Bible Challenge last year, The Chase was hailed by numerous critics including New York Post, National Enquirer and myself, and broke some network records. The Chase featured contestants who now hold the records for “most money won by a single player on a GSN original game show” (Raj Dhuwalia: $125,000) and “most money won by a team on a GSN original game show” (Jonathan, Heather, Cory: $180,000). The record-breaking performances, great reception from viewers, excellent production and being the first GSN show to be renewed for an addition season before the first season debuted are the reasons why GSN introducing Americans to The Chase is listed among the top three game show moments of 2013. The clip below shows Raj’s final head-to-head bout against The Beast and a rare sight of Labbett giving a standing ovation to a contestant’s performance.

#3: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (India) – Sunmeet Kaur Sawhney Becomes First Million-Dollar Winner – January 5, 2013

On May 8, 2003, a Mumbai resident by the name of Sunmeet Kaur Sawhney made game show history by becoming the first woman to win the 5 crore (~$1.1 million) grand prize on Kaun Banega Crorepati, India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. As I have previously stated when I had first written the article on this topic, Sawhney’s success on the show provided a glimpse of hope and empowerment for all women in India. Here was her final question:

Who is the first woman to successfully climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain peak?
A: Junko Tabei
B: Wanda Rutkiewicz
C: Tamae Watanabe
D: Chantal Mauduit

With B as her “final answer”, Sawhney suddenly became a household name and made Indian game show history in the process. With her knowledge along with the show’s host, Amitabh Bachchan, and her family supporting her during the show, Sawhney had little to no problems winning Kaun Banega Crorepati’s elusive 5 crore grand prize.

#2: Wheel of Fortune – Autumn Erhard Becomes Second Million-Dollar Winner and Show’s All-Time Biggest Winner – May 30, 2013

This next year-ending highlight occurred during the later half of the 30th season of Wheel of Fortune. On Thursday, May 30, Autumn Erhard, from Laguna Niguel, CA, became the show’s second million-dollar since Wheel introduced the Million Dollar Wedge in 2008. In solving her “tough” puzzle, considering the limited number of letter she was given to work with, Erhard is now the show’s biggest winner with her incredible one-day total of $1,030,340 in cash and trips. Check out Amelia’s million-dollar moment in the video below.

#1: The Million Second Quiz – Andrew Kravis Awarded Biggest Prize In American Game Show History – September 19, 2013

This brings us to the biggest, most memorable game show moment of 2013, although to some it may not seem like it. During the late summer, NBC debuted a new game show that was perhaps to be projected to be as big of a hit as Millionaire was back in its heyday on ABC: The Million Second Quiz. As stated in the title, the special event took place for 12 days with hundreds of contestants competing on the show and thousands of people playing along at home on the interactive mobile app. To win the series, contestants needed to possess mental toughness and physical stability in terms of holding on to their position in the Money Chair for a long period of time. After a million seconds of intense trivia competition, the final elimination bouts were played and Andrew Kravis became the eventual winner in the deciding $2 million game. Kravis soon became one of the biggest winners in game show history with his $2.6 million (originally $2,326,346) win. The show also set the record for giving away the highest grand prize in American game show history.

Editor’s Note: I was very hesitant in making this moment the top spot in this countdown for two reasons: this show was ratings flop considering it was a daily weeknight live event that aired at 8:00pm and the producers shamelessly bumped Andrew’s total up to $2.6 million to save face and come through on their word of being the game show that will give away the biggest grand prize in television history. However, I had to take into consideration that Andrew showed great tenacity, vast knowledge in a variety of subject matters and exceptional mental toughness by putting together an incredible streak while he was in the Money Chair and holding his spot in Winner’s Row for over a week and a half straight and ultimately won the season. 

Honorable Mentions: Here are six more exciting game show moments that didn’t quite make the list:

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