Note from Chris: Huge apologies both to US vs. UK fans and to Rob himself for how long it took me to get this edition published which is down purely to technical issues at my end and then total ineptitude on my part. Game Show Garbage Reposts will be back this weekend also. Hope you enjoy!
Rob Seidelman: Hello everyone and welcome to your battle of the behemoths in another edition of US Vs. UK. I’m the Game show Garbage man himself, Robert Q. Seidelman.
Chris Nelson: And I’m TV Editor of MultiMediaMouth and host of The TV Thing, Chris Nelson.
RS: This time around we have the sequel to another show we’ve done some time ago.
CN: The clash of the titans that is Family Feud/Fortunes.
RS: We took a look at the shows original runs, but now we take a look at when both shows got revived. We’re taking on the years of 1987-1999.
CN: I was wanting to ask actually, is it just a coincidence the shows were ressurected in the same year?
RS: Not quite. Revived in the UK in 1987, we revived it in 1988.
CN: Ah right.
RS: So, for those who were yearning for this segment, they know that we divide it all up in 5 categories. Those being Host, Gameplay, Presentation, Execution and Personal Preference. Let’s start off with the hosts for the US. Last time the US had only 1 host, and the UK had 2. This time around its reversed, the US had 2 hosts. We start with the first host in this cycle in Ray Combs.
CN: Ray Combs having a background in stand up comedy, being the warm up act for several tv shows prior to becoming a game show host.
RS: And his work with those crowds helped out in getting him the gig for Family Feud and he did it beautifully. He wasn’t afraid to razz contestants for giving bad answers and was really a fantastic host. He also was known to be a great trickster, especially when someone gets over 200, on their own I might add.
CN: I was interested to read about his last show too, when he left the studio right away. He seemed to genuinely care about the show.
RS: Here’s the sad thing about that. When his last shows were airing, they had already started taping the next season with the new host, which would be the return of Richard Dawson.
CN: Must have felt like a real stab in the back. And judging by the dates covered by Dawson’s second run, it wasn’t a roaring success.
RS: Couple of reasons why it died. 1: The OJ Simpson Trial pre-empting anything and everything in daytime at that time and 2: The TV Landscape in the US changed drastically from game shows and a smattering of off-network reruns to nothing but court shows and trashy talk shows. That would explain why it died.
CN: Fair enough. Which brings us to the second US host.
RS: Ye olde Richard Dawson returns from doing the Running Man in 1987 and being a family man.
CN: How was he second time around?
RS: More somber than the last one. The ego trip was almost non-existant at the time. The humor was still there, but quite subdued, mainly due to the fact he got old and wasn’t up to the pop culture of the day. He still was a good host, but it couldn’t compare to the aura he had during the show’s original run.
CN: As so often happens to older guys who return to their previous successes. But this brings us to Les Dennis, the man most people think of as synonymous with Family Fortunes.
RS: Yes. Has a ton of qualities that Ray had, but he had the added benefit of being taller. He’s by no means a big man, but stature is important in a quiz where you’re standing next to contestants. He, like Ray, wasn’t afraid to razz the contestants who gave bad answers.
CN: “If that’s up there, I’ll give you the money myself” was a well known catchphrase.
RS: And there was that one time, where it happened.
RS: Bet she had a nice meal at her local pub with that 12 quid.
CN: Indeed. I’m going to have to strongly vote for Les Dennis here. I’m a big fan of him and he was the perfect host for this show.
RS: If it were just Ray during this time, I’d call tie. But Dawson’s 2nd run lacked the magic that his first run did. So, advantage Les Dennis.
CN: UK leads 1-0.
RS: Let’s talk about the Gameplay. It hadn’t changed much from our previous edition except for a couple of things, so let’s talk about what changed.
RS: For the US version, we added a new feature to the game called the Bullseye/Bankroll game. The teams start at a base $5,000 and then they would play 5 face-offs to look for the top answer. Getting the top answer adds money to your bank. The first one was worth $1,000, second 2k, third 3k, fourth 4k, and the last one 5k. For a maximum of $20,000. For Dawson’s version, it was only 3 questions for 1k/3k/5k. Another thing that changed in the Dawson version was that there were only 4 members to each family instead of the 5, so it was kind of like the Australian version of Family Feud. In 1992, it expanded to an hour, right around when they started Bullseye, and in order to play the champions, they played the game but Bullseye values were slashed in half. Needless to say, this change compressed the gameplay and further made feud a shell of its former self, since the actual game was only Single/Double/Triple/Triple. Now the UK didn’t have any such adaptations as far as I remember, the only thing that changed was your bonus game format or rather what the payouts were.
CN: Ah yes.
RS: Do you remember what happened?
CN: Wasn’t it just a one off question with a prize?
RS: Nope. It was get all 5, win the money. Score 200, win the money. Get 200 and top 5 answers: Win the money and the car.
CN: Oh I see what you mean, sorry I didn’t realise you were talking about Big Money.
RS: The only thing that changed was Big Money to offer bigger payouts and since that’s the only part that changed and didn’t neuter the game itself, Gameplay edge goes to the UK.
CN: 2-0 to the UK
RS: And I must say I should induct Bullseye/Bankroll in the future.
CN: I look forward to seeing it! So, presentation.
RS: The US just updated the old set with nicer colors, and having their logo on the ground. Not only that their buzzers were updated with a nice light trick. When Dawson took over, they had a beautiful glass set and used computer graphics to do the front game/Bankroll and it looked good. The Music also got an update, which is still used to this day for Family Feud.
CN: The UK didn’t change the look much other than occasional modernising of the studio.
RS: However, when they first did it, the set look hideous with the color board and the hideous looking logo.
CN: Ah yes, I’d forgotten about that. The colour board was short lived.
RS: That’s an induction planned for this month for GSG buy the way.
RS: And because of that, the US wins.
CN: US pulls one back to 2-1.
RS: Now Execution, which is a really easy one.
CN: The UK one has to take it really for simplicity and consistency.
RS: Right, if the US didn’t add Bullseye, then it would have been a tie.
CN: It’s a simple format they didn’t need to tinker with.
RS: So, another point for the UK. 3-1 with Personal preference left and I call a tie. Feud is the Feud no matter how you slice it. Same answer can go with Family Fortunes as well. Even with Bullseye, it’s still the feud.
CN: Absolutely, they both have been one of, if not *the* defining game show of the era.
RS: So with the score 4-2 the UK Wins this one!
CN: Surprising it wasn’t a closer result really!
RS: But as Tim Wonnacot says on Bargain Hunt, “One wrong move can really torpedo your chances at a profit.” Or in this case, a win.
RS: Well, we are almost done with this show in itself, but we will save the Final Battle of the Feud/Fortunes for later.
CN: What will we cover next time?
RS: I think some trivial matters are in order, and with that said, its’ time to end the funfest. I’m Robert Q. Seidelman.
CN: I’m Chris Nelson.
RS: We’ll see you next time on Us Vs. UK.
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