On Monday, April 24th, 1978 at 10:00 am ET, Card Sharks, the tension-filled big money game show where a contestant could win up to $28,800 on a single card, debuted on NBC. My fourth favorite game show of all-time is celebrating its 30th anniversary this very week!
There are several different things that I enjoy with this show. For one, the opening poems aspect is definitely a favorite of mine on Perry’s version. There’s the original “Ace is high, deuce is low, call it right and win the dough” to “Shuffle, cut, deal, and play, someone’s going to win today!”
The survey questions I am always entertained by. You know the ones, the ones that test your ability to judge human nature. The subjects really got your opinions going too. Questions about politics, birth control, child rearing, marijuana… there are also ones like “How many Playboy bunnies went to church last Sunday?” and out there questions like “Would you want to see a nude centerfold of The Fonz?” I always find it fun to see what the contestants think and see whether or not I agree with their logic. There’s also one I loved involving the dealers Lacey Pemberton and Susanna Williams that dealt with their age. Their reactions were priceless!
The Money Cards is one of my favorite bonus rounds on a game show. It has the perfect amount of tension to me, and the perfect amount of thrill. There’s no unnecessary fluff to be had. It’s all about the cards and how much you can win. Up to $28,800! And then the 1980’s versions with Bob Eubanks and Bill Rafferty upped the stakes a bit higher by making the round worth $32,000. That never happened but there have been several instances where a contestant has come very close. They also added to this tension by bringing on the car game, and when kids played, the game would be played for a trip to Hawaii. The first car game with the actual cards is definitely my favorite. The one that resembled Mindreaders… eh, didn’t care for it very much.
It’s always been tough for me to decide what my favorite version of the show is… since 2005, it’s been a tie for me with Jim Perry and Bill Rafferty’s versions. I liked that Jim Perry really knew the rules and how he really seemed to enjoy himself on the show. Jim was also so great with suspense. Here’s an example from 1978, as where the contestant Norma Brown herself would say, shot it to the works, and won $28,800 in the Money Cards.
Bill Rafferty I found had a really good sense of humor and I loved how he’d like to play along with the survey questions. I also found Bill to be a very personable emcee, not just on Card Sharks but also on Blockbusters and Every Second Counts, as the kind of host that wants the contestants to win, and have fun doing it.
Bob Eubanks is not a favorite host of mine on this show. I don’t disfavor him as much on this show as other people, but I was never much of a fan of his jokes and sometimes I didn’t care for the way he handled himself on the show. But I know in spite of those nitpicks, that he still had a good time on the show and cared about it deeply. I mean, all the proof you need is to see the either episode where he mentions staff member Carole Costello’s death or the finale. And overtime I’ve come to still definitely find his version watchable. The game play is still good and there is still Lacey Pemberton and Susanna Williams and all the other good things about the show.
I even like the British version. I’ve only gotten to see two episodes so far, but I love Play Your Cards Right. Bruce Forsyth is such a very energetic host with just the right amount of energy and it makes me think how fun it’d be to see him host an American version. I thought it was interesting on the later versions that they had married couples play against each other.
The only version I don’t like is the ill-fated one from 2001. I mean, talk about complete bastardization of the game play with the Candid Camera scenarios, and Pat Bullard just didn’t do it for me as a host. He’s much better off in my honest opinion working for sitcoms. As fans, particularly ones who love the previous versions, let’s hope that if this show is ever revived again that the original version stays in mind.
Happy 30th anniversary, Card Sharks!