The History of “The Pyramid”
If you haven’t heard GSN announced a revival of the classic game show The Pyramid will debut Monday, September 3rd, and air each weekday at 6:00PM ET. Mike Richards will host the modern take on the show. Attempts to get Pyramid back on the air have been going for a long time now. While some may remember the recent CBS Daytime pilots, attempts to get Pyramid back have been going on well before that; since 1996. Beyond a short lived and moderately rated (though critically derided) revival in 2002 the classic show has been absent. GSN may be the one to give us a pretty good run and from the looks of it, it’s got a very good shot. Let’s take a look back at the history of Pyramid‘s return, including some exclusive video and pictures from the various pilots that have never been seen before.
Pyramid first started its revival attempts in 1996. It was hosted by one of our favorites, Mark Walberg, but that was just about the only good thing. The show now saw two contestants alongside six “Pyramid Players”, who were the celebrities. Each was attached to a category. The game was in four rounds. The first round was essentially old-school Pyramid, where you selected a category/celebrity and had 30 seconds to guess 7 items. Round two was similar to a mini version of the famed “Winner’s Circle”. Round three saw a celebrity and contestants bounce back and forth between giving clues and answering for 60 seconds. The highest score at the end of the game won and played the Final Pyramid for $25,000. No photos or video exists of this publicly. That’s probably for the best. You can read more in-depth information about the pilot on USGameShows.
Sony tried a year later with another Pyramid pilot. This time the series was hosted by Chuck Woolery. They ditched most of the strange format and went back to the original game. The only difference was that the six “Pyramid Player” celebrities stayed. Each represented a category. The highest score went to the Final Pyramid (not the Winner’s Circle). The first time was for $10,000 and the second for $25,000. It wasn’t that bad, though the look was drastically different. For the first time ever here are some exclusive images of the pilot. It would take until 2002 for the show to come back, though it would only last two seasons.
After the moderate success, though critical bashing (which, in my opinion, was relatively unjust) the Donny Osmond edition got, Michael Davies attempted to bring the show back a few years later. In 2009 CBS Daytime shot a pilot for The $1,000,000 Pyramid in New York City. The show would go back to its roots with a classic looking set and game. Basically everything from the 80s version survived. The only difference was the cash. The first Winner’s Circle was worth $25,000 and the second $50,000. At the end of the season the best players would come back for the “League of Champions” where someone could win $1,000,000. Everything was looking good, but CBS decided they wanted a show that fit the party-like atmosphere of The Price is Right and they went with Let’s Make A Deal instead. We weren’t overly thrilled at first, but four years later it does seem like they made the correct choice.
Never giving up, a year later Sony and Embassy Row shot a Los Angeles-based pilot for The $500,000 Pyramid, again for CBS Daytime. The show got a new look; mainly it was brought to its feet finally. It still followed the retro rules mostly. One new feature was the “Double Down”. A team behind could use their Double Down to play words twice as difficult for two points instead of one. Also the second round offered a prize to any perfect score. The winning team plays for $10,000. Another one of these rounds would be played, and then both champions would face off at the end of the show for $25,000. The show would allegedly attempt to give away $500,000 though this was never explained. We assume it would work the same as the previous pilot. No photos or videos of this have been released to the public. CBS, again, passed on this. Frankly the second that they announced a talk show to rival The View with Julie Chen was in development, we figured Pyramid was toast.
After that we heard about repeated attempts to bring the show back at other networks like TBS and, back a few years ago, GSN. However, in March, GSN officially announced the development of a revival. The show would closely resemble the classic game with a few tweaks added. In this updated version hosted by Mike Richards contestants can win over $50,000. The four-year effort of bringing Pyramid back will finally happen on September 3rd. It looks incredibly good and we hope it works out for them. More than anything, though, we’re glad to see GSN go back to its roots and bring back some of its viewers favorite shows. This one looks like it will be a slam dunk.