AIRDATES

September 1975-September 1981

NETWORK(S)

Syndication (Weekly, Prime Time)

ANNOUNCER(S)

Johnny Olson

PRODUCED BY

Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions

“Get ready to match the stars!...”

 

“As we play, the star-studded big-money…”

 

Nighttime was the right time for Gene and the panel on this, the weekly primetime version of CBS’ monster hit.

 

Two contestants compete against each other each week, playing the game just the same as the daytime version…almost. Beginning in the nighttime show’s second season, three rounds were played instead of the daytime version’s two.

 

As a time-saving measure when the three-round format was introduced, a new sudden-death tiebreaker was devised. Gene would read the contestants a simple blank phrase, such as “Three (____)” and the contestants would each write an answer (Musketeers, Stooges, etc.). Gene would then ask the three regular panelists-- Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, & Richard Dawson-- to give answers, one at a time. The first contestant to match wins the game.

 

The winner plays the Super Match. The nighttime show amended the rules to offer bigger money and compensate for the fact that this version had no champions by playing two Audience Match phrases.

The contestant kept the money earned in both, and their total winnings would then be multiplied by ten to determine the value of the Head-to-Head Match. This meant a total of $10,000 could be earned during the first three seasons.


1978 brought about a handful of changes from the daytime show that carried into the nighttime version. In addition to a fancy new set, the show saw a change in personnel and a few slight changes to the game.

Longtime regular Richard Dawson, riding high on the success of his own game, "Family Feud," and reportedly becoming bored with the show and difficult to deal with backstage, left early in the season. His seat remained open for rotating panelists.

With that, the tiebreaker was amended so that all six panelists played instead of the remaining two regulars.



But bigger than that was the addition of the Star Wheel, which made the top prize on "Match Game PM" a whopping $20,000.

 

MATCHLESS MOMENTS FROM "MATCH GAME PM"

“The bank teller said, ‘I think there’s something wrong with this dollar bill. Instead of a picture of George Washington, this one has a picture of (_____).”

 

The contestant answered “George Wallace.” Gene, seeing the facial expression of the first panelist in line, suggested, “Maybe we should skip Scoey.”

 But Scoey calmly replied, “Had the old boy let me go to school, I might have learned how to spell his name.” He gave a matching but misspelled answer, GEORGE WALASS.

 

Patti Deutsch, apparently trying to set television’s record for “Most Viewers Ever to Simultaneously Shout ‘WHAT?’ at Their Set,” wrote “Monty Hall.”



During the Audience Match for one show, Richard was in the unenviable position of having to think of a third answer for "BURNS AND (______)." The obvious answer of "Allen" had already been given. The slightly less obvious answer of "Schreiber" was also given. The well had completely run dry, and Richard finally managed to give an answer, but a peculiar one..."Cuts." Richard's reasoning: "It's was you get when you fall out of the Towering Inferno. You get burns and cuts."

Gene was dismayed and raked Richard over the coals for suggesting such an absurd answer. But when the time came to reveal the three most popular answers in the audience survey...

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Years of double entendres proved to be too much of a temptation for Marcia Wallace. She broke the show’s, uh, genitalia barrier, let’s say, and gave a censored answer in 1977.

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Not so much funny as it is interesting, future Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick was a contestant in 1977. He went home with some Turtle Wax and a lovely copy of the home game.


 

This is easily one of my favorite episodes...Gene bemoaned the fact that the entire upper tier had matched in previous rounds, meaning that he couldn’t talk to them in Round 3. So he got on his knees and peered up to view the lower tier to pretend they were the upper tier. Richard Dawson & Betty White cheerfully got into the act by pretending to be Brett Somers & Charles Nelson Reilly, the regulars on the upper tier.

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 Somewhere in world there has to be a book of “Rules of Courtesy for TV Game Shows.” And surely, one of those rules has to be “Don’t book a husband and wife to be on the panel after they’ve separated.” In 1978, Match Game PM cheerfully ignored this rule by bringing Jack Klugman to sit on the panel with his estranged wife, regular panelist Brett Somers.

 

Jack answered a Round 1 question by saying it would be really strange to see a book about chastity written by his ex-wife. Then Brett asked Gene, “Do you think it was a bowl of cherries being married to him all those years?” Then Jack complained about one of Brett’s long-winded explanations by griping, “Ask her what time it is and she’ll tell you how the clock was made!” A quarter of a century before “The Office” came along, Match Game PM was showing us how to get laughs out of an undeniably uncomfortable situation.



A TV Guide ad from Fred Wostbrock. Oh, to have TiVo in 1977...Channel 7 aired this in direct competition with "The $100,000 Name That Tune."


Another TV Guide ad from Fred Wostbrock.



On the surface, "Match Game PM" is already an entertaining show, but it's remarkable HOW entertaining it was considering that on any given taping day, it was the sixth show taped. When you watch Match Game PM, you're seeing a group of people who have had a full dinner, drinks, and a few hours of mental exercise already. Fortunately, at the helm was a great motivator. Gene was at his lively, energetic best on the nighttime version and used that enthusiasm to bring out the best in the celebrity panelists and the contestants.

Up one level to THE GAME SHOWS OF GENE RAYBURN

Up two levels to GENE RAYBURN'S WORLD

Up three levels to GAME SHOW UTOPIA