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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Game Show Garbage: The Newlywed Game w/ Patrick Rodriguez

Syndication: September 1988-1989

There are very few game shows that are recognised as a part of pop culture in this day and age.  One of those shows is The Newlywed Game.  You ask anybody about The Newlywed Game and they’ll say that it’s the show with whoopie or In The Butt, Bob or some variant of that.  It debuted in 1967, cancelled in 1974 on Christmas Eve, revived in 1977 and cancelled again in 1980.  It was revived again in 1984, with a brand new, flashier set and the same old Bob.  It went through a couple of changes, but the constant was the same: Bob Eubanks, 4 Couples and Whoopie.  However, in 1988, Bob Eubanks decided to leave The Newlywed Game in favor of his other endeavors, like Card Sharks and his production company.  So, a new host had to be found, and we’d get one.  His Name was Paul Rodriguez.  The rest was history.

We knew we'd miss you Bob, we just didn't know how much!

The first show of the new regime saw Bob announcing his departure.  He has been doing the show for about 22 years.  So if he wanted to host the show until the end of time, they would have probably allowed him.  He stated that a new host has been selected and we get to meet Paul Rodriguez.

The Jaws theme would be appropriate here

Now people are wondering, who is Paul Rodriguez?  Well, Paul Rodriguez is a comedian.  One of the Original Latin Kings of Comedy, and that’s pretty much it.  Aside from that, he starred in a TV show called Trial and Error.  Now some comedians are good hosts, like George Gray and Bil Dwyer, so it could work.  Then Bob says that we have a brand new set for Paul.  So, I’m thinking we have a modernization of the old set.

Or a piece of rejected set for Highway to Heaven

But nope.  Instead, we get this monstrosity.  This looks nothing like a set for The newlywed Game.  This looks like the back alley of some furniture store.  A very horrible 80s furniture store.  Then we actually get to the couples.  There’s only 3 Couples.  Where’s the 4th?  If I remember Newlywed Game Lore, there’s supposed to be 4 couples.  I guess they had to cut back on one couple.  Then Bob gives Paul the questions and now we actually get to the game itself.

Rodriguez points and laughs as TNG dies before our eyes

And after Paul is by himself with the couples, he tells the ladies in the most ignorant way to “Get Outta here!” so he can ask the guys the questions.  And then everything sinks in and we finally get the cold hard fact that we’re in for a really bad version of The Newlywed Game.  Paul would ask the questions, but would add his own satiristic twist on the questions.

There is no context in which this photograph is appropriate

One of those questions being, “How many women has he told..(in a childish and dopish way) I Love You!”?  And the way he acted out that question made him look very desperate and pathetic.  It seems to me that Paul Rodriguez was making the show all about him and not about the game.  If what I learned from game shows is true, then Paul is a conduit.  He has to know that the game isn’t all about him.  It’s about the game itself and the contestants and has to keep it moving.  Why does he think that this show is all about him and his humor.

And thus a monster was born

Oh….right.  It’s starring Paul Rodriguez.  Another thing we should note is that they changed the music.  Instead of the 80s theme, the song is now “Who Wrote The Book Of Love?” by The Monotones.  A song released even before the original Newlywed Game was even thought up by Barris.  It’s an ok song, but doesn’t belong. Another thing is that the logo looks like it was created by a graffiti artist.  It looks ghastly and nothing like the classic logo or the logo for The New Newlywed Game used previously.  It should be noted that the producer of the show changed.  The show was being steered by Scott Sternberg.  And if you don’t know who Scott Sternberg is, then here’s a brief synopsis of who he is.  He is mainly a behind the scenes guy who produced shows like Hollywood Showdown, Wheel 2000, and is known for his current hit in Catch 21.  He has done other shows, and hosted his own show in Let’s Go Back.  A show that is so cheap, and so chinsy that you’d feel like you’ve been in a time warp and stuck watching game shows in 1965.  But that’s enough about Sternberg.  Back to the show itself.

"Contestants, how many times do you want to punch the producers of this mess?"

The Couples are now together and we have a set change. Joy, as if the discussion set wasn’t bad enough, this one is worse than the one before. I should also point out that on the show has gone back to the normal format and there’s no wagering of cash on the game anymore. So, why the score displays have 3 places instead of just having 2 is well beyond me. The show just looks and feels hideous and I can see why this didn’t last. But anyways, the gameplay is pretty much the same as it was, which is the kindest thing I can say about this show. So, I’m not going to harp on that aspect on the show.

But the horrific set change, ugly logo, new theme & terrible new host is why it’s here. Paul Rodriguez failed the prime directive of being a game show host. He is a conduit and needs to keep the game moving. Sometimes, his jokes take quite a while to get across. The set is hideous, even for 80s show standards. I mean, if Slime Time has a better looking set, then you’re in big trouble. And the main thing is that with one less couple, it usually takes away a good chunk of the stories that could be told. The Logo looks like it belongs on the front of a 1950s diner instead of The Newlywed Game. The theme, while it’s ok, doesn’t fit the show at all. The show was cancelled and Charlie O’Donnell would be announcing Wheel of Fortune in no time, Scott Sternberg would become a good TV producer, after a couple failures & Paul Rodriguez would get away from this drek and actually become a viable commodity in sitcoms, starring as Ferdie Pachecko in Ali & becoming one of the Original Latin Kings Of Comedy.

Update:  I wrote this induction a year ago and I kinda feel like I need to go back to this, because I only had his debut episode to go on.  I’m thankful for David Downs, who posted recently another episode of Paul Rodriguez’s stint on the show from way later on, like near the tail end of the run.  With that said, Here are some more things about the show.

I hope the ghosts of this couple came back to haunt the creators of this evil

After the first episode, they went to a new intro, where they took a whole bunch of wedding pictures from the early 1900s or so and digitally inserted singers mouths moving in place of the pictures mouths.  It just looks really bad.  It reminds me of some of those lame Conan O’Brian sketches where he would interview someone famous & the mouth would move and we’d suppose to be amazed by it.  Either way, it was just pathetic and thought it was one of his lesser attempts at comedy.

Ah Paul, all is forgiven

But the main thing I want to point out is Paul’s hosting.  Unlike some hosts that I’ve covered here, who started terrible and just stuck that way, he actually took the criticism and actually near the end, was a capable emcee.  Sure he’d make some joke near the beginning, like his mom sending him a pink flamingo and saying “If your own mom gives you the bird, you know you’re in trouble.”  Which is a cute and effective joke.  It helped ease the tension of the contestants and it was good.

There is still no rational excuse for that jumper however

What was also good was the way he calmed himself down after the first couple weeks of shows and actually got some good stories out of the three couples.  He also connected well with the couples by being able to make the show about themselves instead of himself.  He learned his directives and became an effective interrogator like Bob.  Now, in the grand scheme of things is Paul a worthy successor to Bob?  Not really, but he helped make the show his own.  Is he the worst host for this show?  I’m going to say no again, because at least he learned to become a better host, unlike Carnie Wilson.  Is the show still induction-worthy?  Yes it is because of the awful set, music, open, lack of one couple and sometimes Paul can get a bit out of hand, but the same can be said for many comedians who do host game shows.

Game Show Garbage can also be found at Robert Seidelman’s own site here

You can contact him at gsg@multimediamouth.com

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