Game show’s appeal lost on viewer

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

One joy of living in the Mountain time zone is the two-hour difference with Eastern time, upon which most of the world runs. Monday night football games that start too late for the average New Yorker end here right before the evening news.

And then there’s morning baseball. There’s also Sunday morning football, but the 11 a.m. baseball game is all the daytime television drama I need. I don’t have to watch talk shows, I don’t have to follow soap operas and I don’t have to wonder why “Family Feud” is still on the air.

It’s a strange feeling every time I end up seeing that show, because I have trouble understanding the concept behind it. With “The Price is Right,” it’s simple because most of the game is based on guessing prices. “Wheel of Fortune” competitors who struggle to figure out _HERLOCK HOLME_ are saved by the fortune of hitting the $5,000 space on the wheel.

But “Family Feud,” I just don’t get. When I was growing up, my family had problems with other families. However, I never thought we could settle such disputes by comparing our knowledge on surveys of 100 average Americans. It shows what little I knew as a child.

Instead, I would spend childhood watching and wondering who took these surveys. My family had never been contacted for one of these surveys, and these were the days where the Internet was simply a bunch of online bulletin boards dedicated to complaining about television (my, how we’ve progressed).

If I had been contacted, I surely would have been the one person who screwed up the survey by saying something extraordinarily off base. “Hmm, let’s see … something you bring to the beach. I’ll say ChapStick.”

Of course, that might be the first answer some of these families choose. The survey question I saw a few days ago during a “Feud” episode I stumbled on was, “Name something that’s generally unreliable.” One woman said, “A newspaper story,” and I cheered for journalism as her answer was greeted with a strike. And usually, the answers are much more ridiculous — if you’ve got a moment free, just go online and search for “worst Family Feud answers.” My favorite is the woman who was asked to name a musician who used just one name, and her response was, “Reba McEntire.”

However, the most damaging blow to the show is the unpredictability of who’s hosting. In my time of watching, it’s gone from Ray Combs (committed suicide) to Louie Anderson (tied up in blackmail) to Richard Karn (Al on “Home Improvement”) to John O’Hurley, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld. I just can’t watch without imagining him talking in the Peterman voice: “Ah, Elaine, I remember once when I surveyed 100 Americans on a household appliance they hate replacing.”

Other game shows have the consistent presence of such hosts as Alex Trebeck, Pat Sajak and Bob Barker. Maybe, to paraphrase Barker, we need to control the game show population by getting rid of “Family Feud.”

Or maybe I watch too much television. I think I know how 100 average Americans would feel on that one.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: