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Game Show Garbage: Three’s A Crowd

Syndication: (January 1979-September-1979)

Chuck Barris has always seemed to push the envelope for game shows.   When he had success with The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game, he was considered to be the next golden child of game shows.  Although during the late 60s, his next couple of ideas in How’s Your Mother In Law? and Dream Girl of ’67 didn’t fly, he found successes with The New Treasure Hunt and The Gong Show in the 70s.  So, he thought he could do no wrong again and decided to make a variant of The Newlywed Game by coming up with a format of who knows who better: Wife or Secretary?  Thus, we have, personally, one of the sickest game show ideas in history, Three’s A Crowd.

A truly impressive 'fro

The Host for this show was Jim Peck, who is vastly underrated as host.  He was a very good host in The Big Showdown and Second Chance and after this disaster, subbing for Jack Barry & Bill Cullen on The Joker’s Wild in the 80s.  Take a look at that fro.  Although Alex Trebek is the undisputed king of the game show fro, Jim Peck has to be considered a close number 2.  Although he was a good host, he seemed very ill-at-ease here, and nobody could blame him.  He didn’t have the pinache for quick wit and humor that Bob Eubanks had in the Newlywed Game and this show was a more volatile situation where sometimes you could spot an infidelity or two on the show, or actually see physicality between the wife and the secretary, which probably caused the shows demise after 8 months on the air.  The announcer for the show is Johnny Jacobs, who has announced most of Barris’s programming.  He’s one that gives the intros for the contestants.  One that I remember seeing is “Husband #1 is a Executive Recuriter for a Large Company who’s motto is ‘Get a Job, sha na na Sha na na na na na.'”   Those got quite a bit of laughs, and helped viewers ease into watching, what was sure to be a painful show.

And the award for Mr Clean Cut Man of the 1970s goes too...

I should start on the format.  It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the Newlywed Game.  Host Jim Peck would ask a personal question about the workplace, or affairs or transferring body parts and whatnot.  Sort of like Newlywed Game Questions, but involving the Secretary & the Wife instead of just the wife.  A sample question would be “What was the biggest lie that your secretary told you just to get the job?”  The Husband will answer the questions and then the fun begins.

Ok, who else reads that sign as "I'm a pooo rapist"?

The Secretaries would come out and Johnny Jacobs would introduce them like he did the husbands.  So you got “Secretary #3 was on the Newlywed Game.  So after the show she took all of her money out of her banks, and put it into Eubanks.”  Then we start to see the Secretaries answer the same questions their bosses were asked.  Sometimes they would get into a little tiff, but nothing too major.  We’d sometimes get some embarrassing secrets revealed by the secretaries and vice versa.  But that’s normally something we’d see on The Newlywed Game.

And The Secretary wins the award for biggest fake smile

But then it truly becomes Three’s A Crowd and we get the wives Out to answer the questions.  Here’s where the show takes a very sick turn.  More often than not, we’d see arguments between the wife and the secretary over some stupid stuff.  And yes, for those people that enjoy physicality in their game shows, we got quite a bit of it.

That's the happiest that man in the middle has ever been

Heck, even the first episode had a fight break out over when the secretary told the wife that she only cooked spaghetti right that one time.  I’d like to assume that when Chuck Barris got this fight, he immediately used it on the pitchfilm for this show to get stations across the country to sign on for this as a companion for The Gong Show or something like that.  But after all of that, the team that matched the most times split up the cash prize of $1,000.  So they embarrassed themselves for a shade over $333 each.  That’s classy folks.  What even makes it more sad is that sometimes they tied and all 6 split the cash prize, meaning each person got about $166.  Yes, this was a very sick show.  What also didn’t help is that a lot of people complained about how very demented this show was.  I don’t know what Barris thought when he was devising this concept, but the backlash was so bad that after this show and Newlywed Game and Dating Game got cancelled around 1980, he went into exile and lived happily in France.  He started writing his books and lived a peaceful life.  During the late 90s this show was reran to death on the weekends on Game Show Network.

Personally, this was a very demented and sick show.  It was revived in 2000 and hosted by Alan Thicke.  The main difference was it was various couples like Boyfriend Vs. Best Friend or Wife Vs. Mom or Husband Vs. Ex.  The show there was a lot tamer than this one, and made it a tad more enjoyable.  I’m glad this version got cancelled the way it did.  I just hope that GSN or someone there has the decency to destroy these tapes.  This show should have never existed.

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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