Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's time to play... the Family Feud!

This week, the newly revamped Family Feud premiered in syndication. The game hasn't changed, of course — it's still "We surveyed 100 people and got the top [insert number here] answers to this question..." The set, however, has been gussied up with some flashy new graphic elements in welcome of the show's new host, erstwhile Dancing with the Stars champion and Seinfeld repertory player John O'Hurley, the poor man's George Hamilton.

Overall, any refreshing change to the decidedly retro Feud would be welcome, though I doubt they'll entice new viewers in sufficient numbers to boost the Feud back into the lofty ratings it once enjoyed. O'Hurley — whose surname likely precluded any possibility of a career in the food and beverage industry — makes a fine game show host (he previously starred on the short-lived revival of To Tell the Truth a few years back), though his urbane approach seems an odd match for the uptempo Feud. (I classify game shows as having "loud" or "quiet" personalities. Loud shows encourage contestants to scream when they score points and bounce around like maniacs when they win. Quiet shows maintain a more serene level of decorum throughout. Family Feud is a loud show.)

In a bit of a throwback to the glory days of original Feud host Richard Dawson, O'Hurley arrives on camera wearing a stylish, impeccably tailored suit. His raised eyebrow and cool, slightly arch demeanor suggests that he finds the whole proceedings a trifle silly. This marks a stark contrast to his immediate predecessor, former Home Improvement sidekick Richard Karn, who affected a business-casual wardrobe and an earnest, almost overeager friendliness, and the guy Karn replaced, comedian Louie Anderson, who always seemed to be searching for the exit — or perhaps the buffet — from the moment he appeared on stage.

On a quiet show like To Tell the Truth, O'Hurley was a perfect fit (he wouldn't be a bad choice for Jeopardy! if/when Alex Trebek retires). As smoothly effective as he is on Feud, he seems a shade out of kilter with the tone of the show. That dissonance may tone down as the season progresses, and both O'Hurley and the production team reach some form of equilibrium.

One change that definitely needs to be rethought: The reinstatement of the old-school "family portrait" posed introduction for the contestant families. The bit worked fine back in the day, when the set was decorated to look like a needlepoint sampler and the poses tied into the theme. Now, with the ultramodern set and space-age CGI graphics, viewers who don't recall the original series (or needlepoint samplers, for that matter) will only wonder what the heck those people are doing.

Two hilarious moments from the new Feud's first week:
O'Hurley: Name something you can use to make a bath sexier.
Male contestant: Some of that 401(k) jelly.
I didn't know my retirement plan covered that sort of thing. Neither did O'Hurley, who almost broke up at this one.
O'Hurley: We asked 100 men — name something you put on to be sexy.
Female contestant: Cowboy boots.
If you put on cowboy boots to be sexy, you just might be a redneck.

Survey said both of the above answers rated a big fat goose egg, for those of you scoring at home.


8 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

LOL. Those answers are better than most dialogue on prime-time shows.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous offered these pearls of wisdom...

I wear cowboy boots to be sexy, but oddly enough I have to slather my feet with the 401(k) jelly to get them on...

3:35 PM  
Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

O'Hurley definitely has perfect talk show host written all over him. Why he didn't jump on the bandwagon while the getting was good, I have no idea.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Eugene Finerman offered these pearls of wisdom...

The War of the Roses was the original Family Feud.

Richard Dawson (He was the host in 1470): For the crown of England, name four people you would most like to see in the Tower of London.

Henry VI: a moo-cow.

Dawson: Let's see if the audience says "moo-cow." XXXXX. Gee, what a surprise! But the Lancastrians still have a chance. Queen Margaret of Anjou, what did the survey say?

Margaret: William Caxton! I command it.

Dawson: William Caxton? You must think that you are on Jeopardy! Did the survey say, "William Caxton?" XXXX.

George of Clarence, you are the Lancastrians' last chance. What did the survey say?

George: Joan of Arc?

Margaret, Henry: Good answer; good answer!

Dawson: Survey says....XXXX. Now, it's the Yorkists' turn. Edward IV, who would the audience like to see in the Tower of London?

Edward IV: How about Henry VI!

Dawson: The board says, "Yes. Henry VI!" All right, Yorkists, who else did the audience survey want to see in the Tower of London?

Richard III: My two obnoxious young nephews?

Dawson: The board says, "Yes, the Little Princes." Here is your chance to sweep the board and take the throne. Who else did the audience say that they wanted in the Tower.

George of Clarence: Me.

Dawson: Weren't you just playing for the Lancastrians?

George: I actually belong in the Tower.

Dawson: Survey says, "Yes. The Yorkists win!" Let's say goodbye to the Lancastrians; and as lovely parting gifts you will receive six plays by William Shakespeare.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

I thing that o hurley sucks and i have quit watching the show

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Dan offered these pearls of wisdom...

The 'new' wedding planner edition Feud. You know, something old (the host), something new (the renewed set), something borrowed (the time that they are running on) and something blue (the viewers after a week of the 'new' Feud). My suggestion, bring back either of the two Richards as host. Yes I know one Richard is no longer with us but even he would be better! To be fair though Richard Karn was uneasy the first few weeks when he took over from Louie Anderson. I guess that I will give the 'new' Feud a few more weeks or as long as the voices in my head stop telling me to change the channel!

8:18 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Just a point of order, Dan: Both Richards who have hosted Family Feud are very much still "with us." Richard Dawson, the show's original and still most identifiable host, is 73 years old and retired from show business, but hasn't shuffled off this mortal coil at this writing.

You may be thinking of Ray Combs, Dawson's immediate successor, who committed suicide in June 1996.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Dan offered these pearls of wisdom...

Oops, my bad. You are soooo correct. My apologies go out to Richard Dawson. Hey, didn't Bob Barker, who is in his eighties, just sign for another five years of the Price Is Right? Just maybe bringing back Mr. Dawson to the Feud isn't as far fetched as I had thought!

8:10 PM  

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