Thursday, February 18, 2010

G-T Shows I Miss on GSN: Blockbusters

I'm starting a new type of entry which hopefully won’t last too long… a look at some of the Goodson-Todman shows that no longer air on GSN that I miss seeing. One of the big favorites of mine was Blockbusters, one of the few Goodson-Todman trivia shows, which sought out the age old question “are two heads better than one?” with a 20 hexagon board full of the first letters of each answer. Both US versions ran on NBC; the first from 1980-82 with game show veteran host Bill Cullen at the helm. The second lasted only from January-May 1987 and was hosted by Bill Rafferty.

My favorite is hands down the version that ran from 1980-82. Bill Cullen really shined here. I’ve often said that if this show were to ever be revived, using the two-on-one player format is the way to go. I’d maybe expand it so that more than family members play the two-person teams. The range of questions was also rather well executed. Good enough trivia questions to test your brain with a few pop culture ones mixed in. While the set looks dated, I enjoy seeing a manually operated game board, and major props to theme music composer Bob Cobert for coming up with a smashing music package.

I would say the 1987 version is far from horrible, but I think it really lost something when it abandoned the 2 vs. 1 format in favor of two solo players. That was the whole entire point of the show in the first place; to see if two heads were better than one. And with that gone the show just looks like any other game show. There was also an over-abundance of “Helpful Heloise” questions, which aren’t bad in general, but there just seemed to be too many of these on the show. I did enjoy Bill Rafferty’s hosting and I thought that adding the progressive jackpot in the Gold Rush was a good idea. It would have been pretty solid if it weren’t for the removal of the original 2 vs. 1 match up.

My favorite moment on this show has to be from 1980, with contestant John Hatten. While he was on the show originally, his house burned down, so he and his family had pretty much nothing. Then he wound up retiring after ten matches (the longest you could stay on at the time), $60,000. Then he came back in 1982 after the house limit was extended to 20 matches, played for ten more matches and won $60,000 more.

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