Review: “Match Game” Canada Not a Home Run, Not a Strikeout
Last night, Canada’s brand new Match Game revival premiered on the Comedy Network. Featuring such stars as Colin Mochrie, Yvette Nicole Brown and regular panelists Sean Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni, the show mixes the old spirit of the American series with the Quebec-based modern Atomes Crochus, an adaptation on the format for a French speaking audience. I watched the first episode and had a chance to review it. Let’s talk about how the show works and what I thought of it.
For some background, here’s how the game is played. The show is based on the French-Canadian Match Game adaption Atomes Crochus, which in turn is based heavily on the 1990 version of Match Game. There are two “classic” rounds, where each contestant picks a letter assigned to a question. They earn 50 points for each match and they can match up to all six people on the panel each question. After this, each player picks a panelist to play the 45 second Match-Up round. A contestant is given a blank phrase with two options to fill in that blank. The contestant selects his answer privately via computer and then the celebrity gives their pick. Each match is worth 50 points and the person in the lead at the end of this round gets their points converted into dollars and wins the game.
The winner then plays the Super Match just like most versions of the program, getting help from three panelists and then picking his own response. The most popular answer is worth $2,000, the second is worth $1,500 and the third is worth $1,000. However, the contestant doesn’t win this money in this portion of the game, it is placed as the base value for the Head-to-Head Match. The contestant then spins the arrow on the Star Wheel, stylized and adorned with “double” spaces just like Match Game 1990, which will decide how much the contestant plays for and who he plays with. If the contestant successfully matches his partner, he walks away with a few grand. However, no match likely means just winning around a few hundred dollars.
For the most part, aesthetically everything is pretty pleasing. This series is taped on the Atomes Crochus set in Quebec, which is definitely a modern take on the show. Everything is pretty tech-heavy, including the whole portion of the panel lighting up for a celebrity “locking in” their answer and the Super Match taking place on a plasma monitor in the middle of the stage. The show uses a remake/remix of the famous 1970s theme song and that sounds pretty good, combining familiarity but fitting the feel of the set. The question writing is good, eliciting suggestive but not downright filthy responses from the panel, a concern for this kind of show based in our “say whatever” era in 2012. The host, Darrin Rose, is no Gene Rayburn. Not even a Ross Shafer, but he’s passable. He had a couple of missteps, but so did Rayburn even when he was running the ship for many years. It just comes with corralling a frenetic environment like this.
My next comment isn’t really a negative or a positive, just kind of “there.” The panel really doesn’t seem to have a major chemistry. This is understandable because there is a mishmash of people getting together for the first time in many cases, but some of the party atmosphere doesn’t come off as well as the older versions do. I think if it comes back for a season two, this will grow and will feel more authentic. This comment, however, is certainly negative.Match Game does aaaaaabsolutely nothing to shed the “Canada is cheap” game show stereotype. The first winner on the show won $350 Canadian in the maingame (roughly worth the same in the U.S.) and, because he didn’t win the Head-to-Head Match, that’s all he got. In America, production companies don’t even have to notify the IRS of winnings that low.
I understand this is a cable production, but there a couple of things that could be done to help throw a few more bucks the contestants’ way. As soon as the contestant surpasses his opponents’ score to win the game in the Match-Up, the game ends and a winner is declared. So if your opponent doesn’t do terribly well in the game and you just need one match to win, you could conceivably win with $150 or $200. Another idea is to do what America did for years. Make the Super Match worth $100/$150/$200 and play for “ten times that amount or…” when spinning the Star Wheel. For me, anyway, it just takes away from some of the fun when the contestant can hardly walk away with cost for a plane ride home even though he won the game.
Match Game isn’t going to light the word on fire, but it’s not doing anything to destroy the legacy either. It’s kinda just there. It’s an enjoyable half hour but I don’t know that if it were on in a similar timeslot in the States that I would work my life or TV schedule around watching it. Reader Ryan V. uploaded the premiere to YouTube and is visible here. For those of you in Canada, you can watch episodes officially at Comedy’s website. We’ve had some comments around the blog in the last day about it, but what did you think about it? If you haven’t yet, give it a watch and let us know below!