Author Topic: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years  (Read 7900 times)

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Offline pannoni1

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GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« on: August 23, 2019, 02:15:26 PM »
With Game Show Network turning 25 on December 1st, I'd say it's time to look back and discuss the channel's classic age, before the originals and credit crunches dominated the channel like it has since the mid-2000s.

As is traditionally the case on cable networks, the first era of a network is the greatest, in particular toward the end of that run. But as it was, Game Show Network launched with something that no other channel had done before: present a continuous (or near-continuous, with a few hours of infomercials in the late night and early morning) block of game shows. In addition to finding these shows for the first time in primetime for the first time since the early '70s, it also provided many an opportunity to catch numerous shows that they missed the first time around, whether they were young like myself or were too busy with other things like jobs and school. Among the programming at the network's launch were the premieres of the syndie Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek, along with the return of numerous shows last seen since they were first on the air such as Match Game with Gene Rayburn, Family Feud with Richard Dawson, What's My Line?, To Tell The Truth, and many more. It even gave some more obscure shows with short runs a chance, like Bullseye and Play Your Hunch. Many game show personalities from the classic era would often provide the promos and bumpers as well. It truly was game show heaven, though at first, like many emerging classic cable networks, was only found on a few selective providers, though around 1997 or so, when classic The Price Is Right joined their lineup, it started to become pretty widely available.

On the first day of GSN, Peter Tomarken would give a brief history of each show right, who also hosted some interactive games to play along. Also joining him were Steve Day and Laura Chambers, who would usually call the programming from a specially made living room set featuring fax machines (remember those?), coffee mugs, pen and pencil boxes, and even a toy named "Mr. Game Show", along with "The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows". The only advertising that was found at the time were Sony products, PSAs, and of course, promos for the network itself, and this caused a number of interstitials that found this "living room gang" chat with each other. Gene Rayburn, Jim Lange, and Charles Nelson Reilly would often appear with them as well.

Some of the other early features would be a two-hour common theme each weekend. The first themes included a two-hour Lucille Ball tribute, a 34th anniversary special for TTTT, and on the first New Year's weekend (1994-95), several Match Game '7x New Year's Eve episodes.

For those who are curious, here is the schedule from GSN's premiere weekend:

Thursday, December 1, 1994 -- PREMIERE DAY!

 7:00 pm -- Match Game
 7:40 pm -- Family Feud
 8:20 pm -- Password
 9:00 pm -- I've Got A Secret
 9:40 pm -- To Tell The Truth
10:20 pm -- What's My Line?
11:00 pm -- Newlywed Game
11:30 pm -- Dating Game

Friday, December 2, 1994

12:00 mid -- Tic Tac Dough
12:30 am -- Joker's Wild
 1:10 am -- Now You See It
 1:45 am -- Password
 2:20 am -- Match Game
 3:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 3:30 am -- Jeopardy!
 4:00 am -- Card Sharks
 4:30 am -- Tattletales
 5:00 am -- Family Feud
 5:30 am -- Family Feud
 6:00 am -- Child's Play
 6:30 am -- Beat The Clock
 7:00 am -- Password
 7:30 am -- I've Got A Secret
 8:00 am -- To Tell The Truth
 8:30 am -- What's My Line?
 9:00 am -- Tic Tac Dough
 9:30 am -- Joker's Wild
10:00 am -- Now You See It
10:45 am -- Wheel of Fortune
11:20 am -- Jeopardy!
11:55 am -- Password
12:30 pm -- Match Game
 1:00 pm -- Beat The Clock
1:30 pm -- Child's Play
 2:00 pm -- The Newlywed Game
 2:30 pm -- The Dating Game
 3:00 pm -- Family Feud
 3:30 pm -- Family Feud
 4:00 pm -- Match Game
 4:30 pm -- Tattletales
 5:00 pm -- Card Sharks
 5:30 pm -- Password Plus
 6:00 pm -- Trivia Trap
 6:30 pm -- Blockbusters
 7:00 pm -- Match Game
 7:40 pm -- Family Feud
 8:20 pm -- Password
 9:00 pm -- I've Got A Secret
 9:40 pm -- To Tell The Truth
10:20 pm -- What's My Line?
11:00 pm -- Newlywed Game
11:30 pm -- Dating Game

Saturday, December 3, 1994

12:00 mid -- Tic Tac Dough
12:30 am -- Joker's Wild
 1:10 am -- Now You See It
 1:45 am -- Password
 2:20 am -- Match Game
 3:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 3:30 am -- Jeopardy!
 4:00 am -- Card Sharks
 4:30 am -- Tattletales
 5:00 am -- Family Feud
 5:30 am -- Family Feud
 6:00 am -- Child's Play
 6:30 am -- Beat The Clock
 7:00 am -- Password Plus
 7:30 am -- Blockbusters
 8:00 am -- Trivia Trap
 8:30 am -- Now You See It
 9:00 am -- Card Sharks
 9:30 am -- Match Game
10:00 am -- Family Feud
10:30 am -- Family Feud
11:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
11:30 am -- Wheel of Fortune
12:00 pm -- Jeopardy!
12:30 pm -- Jeopardy!
 1:00 pm -- Password
 1:30 pm -- I've Got A Secret
 2:00 pm -- To Tell The Truth
 2:30 pm -- What's My Line?
 3:00 pm -- Family Feud
 3:30 pm -- Family Feud
 4:00 pm -- Beat the Clock
 4:30 pm -- Beat the Clock
 5:00 pm -- Child's Play
 5:30 pm -- Child's Play
 6:00 pm -- Tattletales
 6:30 pm -- Tattletales
 7:00 pm -- Tic Tac Dough
 7:30 pm -- Joker's Wild
 8:00 pm -- Match Game
 8:30 pm -- Tattletales
 9:00 pm -- Newlywed Game
 9:30 pm -- Newlywed Game
10:00 pm -- Weekend Special

Sunday, December 4, 1994

12:00 mid -- Dating Game
12:30 am -- Dating Game
 1:00 am -- Tic Tac Dough
 1:30 am -- Joker's Wild
 2:00 am -- Family Feud
 2:30 am -- Family Feud
 3:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 3:30 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 4:00 am -- Jeopardy!
 4:30 am -- Jeopardy!
 5:00 am -- Beat The Clock
 5:30 am -- Beat The Clock
 6:00 am -- Child's Play
 6:30 am -- Child's Play
 7:00 am -- Password Plus
 7:30 am -- Blockbusters
 8:00 am -- Trivia Trap
 8:30 am -- Now You See It
 9:00 am -- Card Sharks
 9:30 am -- Match Game
10:00 am -- Family Feud
10:30 am -- Family Feud
11:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
11:30 am -- Wheel of Fortune
12:00 pm -- Jeopardy!
12:30 pm -- Jeopardy!
 1:00 pm -- Password
 1:30 pm -- I've Got A Secret
 2:00 pm -- To Tell The Truth
 2:30 pm -- What's My Line?
 3:00 pm -- Family Feud
 3:30 pm -- Family Feud
 4:00 pm -- Beat the Clock
 4:30 pm -- Beat the Clock
 5:00 pm -- Child's Play
 5:30 pm -- Child's Play
 6:00 pm -- Tattletales
 6:30 pm -- Tattletales
 7:00 pm -- Tic Tac Dough
 7:30 pm -- Joker's Wild
 8:00 pm -- Weekend Special
10:00 pm -- Match Game
10:30 pm -- Tattletales
11:00 pm -- Newlywed Game
11:30 pm -- Newlywed Game

Monday, December 5, 1994

12:00 mid -- Dating Game
12:30 am -- Dating Game
 1:00 am -- Tic Tac Dough
 1:30 am -- Joker's Wild
 2:00 am -- Family Feud
 2:30 am -- Family Feud
 3:00 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 3:30 am -- Wheel of Fortune
 4:00 am -- Jeopardy!
 4:30 am -- Jeopardy!
 5:00 am -- Beat The Clock
 5:30 am -- Beat The Clock

Although GSN changed its logo for the first time late in the classic era, from the network spelled out with each word in top of each other with a picture of a man to a row of GAME SHOW on two rows, with a swirling green ball used as the "O" and a red "G", this soon led to what many watchers call "The Dark Period", lasting from October 1997 until April 1998. This brief period, known for the commonly used bumpers/promos using a black background with the "G" in yellow and the other letters in white, is most infamously known for the purging of the entire Goodson-Todman library, with the exception of The Price Is Right and the 1994-95 season of Family Feud. One benefit though was that it allowed for a lot of new classic shows on the schedule, in particular the Chuck Barris Productions library, including The Gong Show, Treasure Hunt, and the notoriously awful 3's A Crowd. It also launched "The Kids Zone" block on weekend mornings, where it would feature classic shows featuring children like Juvenile Jury, The Joker's Wild, Wheel 2000, Jep!, and the Quiz Kids Challenge. This was also the period of the network's first two originals, Super Decades (which evolved from one the early interactive games present on the network's launch, simply "Decades", and Trivia Track, simple phone-in games that would provide some modest but useful prizes. This was my first experience of GSN personally, but my cable provider had it end at 9:00 each night, and this continued a little into the post-dark era before it became 24/7 towards the end of 1998.

After the dark period ended, GSN basically picked up where it left off, with the Goodson-Todman shows back in rotation. The occasional original like Inquizition or Throught And Neck continued to spice things up. There was even Faux Pause, a MST3K-type show where an obscure show like The Better Sex would occasionally get commentary in terms of how poorly the game turned out. The graphics packages included the "Googie" package that seemed to have some retro mid-century elements (think Jetsons), followed by the more familiar green/white pattern that commonly featured balls falling into a cube before the network's logo would pop out of it. Although TPIR was yanked from the schedule in March 2000, there was still some classic gold yet to be seen, including Press Your Luck and Let's Make A Deal, and there were also perhaps the best original (technically a revival, but still GSN-produced) to come to the network: Lingo, hosted by Chuck Woolery. Of course by this time, a lot of the closing credits would be briefly squeezed in by a promo, but at least the credits wouldn't end early. It was still the go-to place for classic game shows and a few originals, with Hollywood Showdown, Russian Roulette, Cram, and Friend or Foe also coming out of this early 2000s phase.

But on April 15, 2004, that all came to an end as GSN implemented the credit crunches for just about any show, and sometimes, the tape would be sped up slightly just to add more commercials, and from then on the channel hasn't been quite the same. It suffered from Family Feud burnout, the purging of the classics except for a short period in the morning, and originals that were more misses than hits. Of course, this eventually lead to the launch of BUZZR in 2015. 

So as this important milestone approaches, what are your fondest memories of GSN over the years? What was your favorite period for the network, along with your favorite originals as well?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 02:22:47 PM by pannoni1 »
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Offline b_masters8

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 03:23:51 PM »
So as this important milestone approaches, what are your fondest memories of GSN over the years? What was your favorite period for the network, along with your favorite originals as well?

Definitely when GSN had Club A.M., and Martindale TTD always led off that morning block.

Offline JayC

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 03:52:19 PM »
I did not have GSN at home until late 2007 so until then I only got to occasionally watch it whenever I was watching a TV that had it. My mom worked in a senior center that had it in 1997 and 1998 so I would go with her sometimes and watch it in the backroom until one of the directors came in, it was fun watching classic Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune episodes in the morning.

Offline tpir04

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 04:13:43 PM »
What I would give for that lineup! Buzzr has one pretty similar, but without the B&E library that is currently owned by Sony. (Fat chance Buzzr will ever get those, but I'm still optimistic!) Some changes I would make to the Friday schedule would be to replace Newlywed Game and Dating Game with the two FF eps. Press Your Luck would be at 3pm, Match Game and Tattletales at 3:30pm and 4pm respectively (keeping in tradition with their original slots). CS at 4:30, P+ at 5pm and an episode of Super Password at 5:30pm. The rest would stay the same. On the Saturday schedule, I would replace the 10am showings of FF with two eps of $25K Pyramid.

My earliest memories of GSN are from 2009-ish, watching Chain Reaction, Lingo, Whammy! and Bingo America with Patrick Duffy and later Richard Karn. The 7-year old in me LOVED that giant bingo cage and ignited in me a short-lived interest in bingo. (That interest still exists, but less so.) I vaguely remember a morning lineup that included $25,000 Pyramid, Press Your Luck and Match Game. I will give credit to GSN for first exposing me to these classics and many more, and there's a good chance that's why I'm a game show nut, like the rest of us.  :P However, around 2011, our cable provider dropped GSN from our package, and we never upgraded. I did without until around 2015, when I watched GSN in the hospital while my grandma was there. I was DEVASTATED that Harvey Feud and GSN original non-game shows had swallowed up much of the lineup, but I had some consolation in the morning lineup that was mostly intact, up to 2018 when that was given the boot too! Now, the schedule is mostly Match Game in the morning, Harvey Feud in the evening, and a few GSN originals scattered in between (Cash Cab, Common Knwledge and America Says). Then came October 2017, when I scanned my antenna and found the new GSN, Buzzr. The very first Buzzr memory I have was watching the 80s LMAD when Buzzr did a Monty Hall tribute shortly after he died. Buzzr has become my new favorite, as it's fantastic seeing those old game shows that, 40 years ago, nobody believed would ever want to see again.

 I hardly watch GSN anymore, only when we're in the hospital or assisted nursing home. (My grandma has been in and out of the two throughout the past few years and it's interesting to note that GSN is really the only thing any of the elderly people have on. When I walk through the halls, all I hear are those unmistakable "strike" sounds of Family Feud. Neither the hospital or the nursing homes have Buzzr, which is a crying shame.) One thing I do enjoy about GSN is their America Says series. While I understand that it's a blatant rip-off of Family Feud, it's a nice break from Family Feud. However, in a world where PYL offers $1,000,000, a $5,000 top prize is dirt cheap, even for a cable show. John Michael Higgins does a great job hosting, although that opinion might be biased being as though he played a role on my favorite show, Monk, as, of all things, a game show host. The episode was titled, "Mr. Monk and the Game Show". I highly recommend watching the episode, and the whole series, for that matter. It was very excellent.

In sum, it's sad to see what has become of GSN. A cable channel once devoted entirely to pre-1990 game shows has degenerated into the Harvey Family Feud network. But, I believe that if we never had GSN, we'd never have Buzzr. Although GSN has drifted away from its original purpose, it still spawned a network that I'm glad exists, and I hope Buzzr will maintain it's original purpose of existing for many years to come.
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Online pricefan18

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 09:07:35 PM »
I did not have GSN at home until late 2007 so until then I only got to occasionally watch it whenever I was watching a TV that had it. My mom worked in a senior center that had it in 1997 and 1998 so I would go with her sometimes and watch it in the backroom until one of the directors came in, it was fun watching classic Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune episodes in the morning.

I didn't get GSN for years either, up till late 2002, only would get it at my mom's old house before then and my grandma's on my dad's side too if I recall. I remember watching Classic Price many mornings before leaving for middle school (aka the first segment/game), and also when out sick occasionally too or on a day off, which was a treat. I remember watching some of their Win TV aired shows (Price that is) too, which rotated every day by era up through the early 90's period. I recall watching Bergeron Squares many mornings and mid 90's Jeopardy too at this time. I believe my mom never had it past 5pm, so I can remember catching the opens of Family Feud (which I often couldn't tell whether it was Dawson or Combs back then as young as I was till the intro ended), and then it'd revert back to a preview channel rest of the night.

I watched a few Game Show Saturday Night marathons at my grandmother's, one that was a Celebrity Jeopardy night which I particularly can remember. I recall getting in trouble for laughing/joking about a dirty Feud answer on I think the Dawson finale one night as well when they did the Feud 25 marathon I believe, because my cousin was too young to really be hearing such things then.

After I got GSN at home regularly, I recorded a lot for a while, Feud, 88-89 Wheel and 97-98 Jeopardy which if people remember were the only seasons they'd air/were leased to air by Sony for quite a long time, and Match Game. Still have those tapes too I think downstairs, along with a lot of then current Price I also recorded. I remember recording their feast of favorites event too or some of it anyway.


Offline mellongraig

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 09:11:13 PM »
Well I had GSN for a while on and off when I was younger watching GSN originals, and classic game shows around 2002-2003, and despite the credit crunch (that wasn't too severe back then) I still enjoyed watching those game shows. If I do watch game shows now I watch them through GameTV (which so far hasn't crunched the credits at all) because I don't have Buzzr. Speaking of Buzzr they have started to crunch the credits (ugh!) last night with an official statement saying that they will continue to do that for the time being.

One more thing to note: I believe GSN switched to the Dark Period bumpers around July 1997, maybe a sign of things to come when they lost the Goodson-Todman rights (except for The Price is Right and 1994-95 Family Feud). It's sad now how GSN has become, and GameTV for me is my alternate for enjoyment.

Online ooboh

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 10:25:38 PM »
Born in 2000, I grew up watching GSN originals like Friend or Foe?, Lingo, Russian Roulette, Whammy!, and the sort. I was also introduced to the classics, like Millionaire, Family Feud (not that Harvey garbage), and my all-time favorite game show, Press Your Luck. While todayís GSN originals are perfectly fine (even if the payouts are a little skimpy with crazy difficult bonus rounds), they donít hold a candle to those old shows. Iíd give an arm and a leg to have those shows air in some form again.

As Jeopardy!. Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right were airing first-Run episodes when I was growing up, I found those shows out without the help of GSN. Although, Jeopardy! airing on GSN blew my mind (and still does).

Offline Ccook

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2019, 12:12:57 PM »
Time-compressing shows (or as the GSN boarders called them "speed-ups" which would only apply if the pitch were raised) were also a complaint as time went on. They're still prone to it, and the binge airing of the Harvey Feud is just a sign of keeping up with the Joneses. Many channels out in pay-tv land seems to thrive on binge airing of a show because it's what they believe we want. Cartoon Network's binge airing of Teen Titans Go! and The Amazing World of Gumball are particular offenders.
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Offline tpir04

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2019, 12:23:42 PM »
Buzzr introduced credit-crunches this past week as well.
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Offline b_masters8

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 04:20:50 AM »
Buzzr introduced credit-crunches this past week as well.

Is Buzzr possessed?! Now there's no way to see all those great shows in the clear (outside of YouTube)!

Offline blozier2006

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 04:34:36 AM »
Is Buzzr possessed?! Now there's no way to see all those great shows in the clear (outside of YouTube)!
Chill, dude. There's no crunches if you watch on their website.

Offline b_masters8

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 04:37:57 AM »
Chill, dude. There's no crunches if you watch on their website.

Good point! I'll look there. Thanks for the tip. I get worked up like that because I originally saw these uncrunched, and being as GSN and now Buzzr are crunching, it gets my dander up a bit.

Offline tpir04

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2019, 09:03:47 AM »
Is Buzzr possessed?! Now there's no way to see all those great shows in the clear (outside of YouTube)!

Relax, my friend. As far as I can tell, it was only temporary. Please see Buzzr's Facebook post.
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Offline b_masters8

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2019, 04:46:06 PM »
Relax, my friend. As far as I can tell, it was only temporary. Please see Buzzr's Facebook post.

Did not realize-- now as I just now saw the link you mentioned, I'm reassured somewhat.

Offline vnisanian2001

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Re: GSN at 25: A reflection on the channel's classic years
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2019, 01:20:43 AM »
25 years. Wow. I feel old. April 1997 was when I first got it.