On the latest "Saturday Night Live," Tina Fey revived her Sarah Palin imitation for a sketch about a cable network built around the politician.
One of the shows: "Are You Smarter Than a Half-Term Governor?" (“I think you’ll be surprised by the answer,” said Palin/Fey. “I know I was.”)
Other than getting a laugh at the former Republican vice presidential candidate’s expense, the joke touched on a TV staple that seems, like Palin, to have a knack for reinvention – and for refusing to fade away: the old-time game show.
Plans for the latest reboot of the 1970s-1980s Dick Clark chestnut, "The $10,000 Pyramid," are in the works, with the ante upped to a $1 million, The Hollywood Reporter notes. The move follows the successful resurrection of "Let's Make a Deal," with Wayne Brady, and the brief primetime revival a couple years back of “Password,” which could lead to a new daytime version, Variety reports.
The attack of the ancient games shows comes at a time when some daytime soap operas are faltering (“Let’s Make a Deal” replaced the “Guiding Light,” and “Pyramid” could supplant “As the World Turns”). Primetime, meanwhile, is filled with reality and competition-based shows, some with built-in soap operas (“Survivor” and “American Idol”), and others more action-driven (“Win a Million in a Minute”).
While they’re far from flashy, the old-school game shows are proving resilient – and show there’s no one formula for success. “Let’s Make a Deal” essentially comes down to playing dress-up and guessing what’s in a box, while “Pyramid” and “Password” rely on verbal abilities.
Or take the two current longest-running examples, "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." One is a test of knowledge and speed, while the other is essentially a televised game of Hangman.
The possible return of “Pyramid” makes us wonder about other game shows worth bringing back and injecting with new blood: Imagine “Hollywood Squares” with, say, Sarah Silverman in the center square.
So we’ll ask the $64 (or, factoring in inflation, the $6.4 Million) Question: which old game shows would you like to see revived? Use the comments section to give your answer (unlike “Jeopardy!”, it doesn’t have to be in the form of a question).
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.