Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Time to Play...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

...the Family Feud! I thought this game was a lot of fun to watch when I was a kid, mostly because the answers that people would say were just so funny sometimes! I've seen it in various renditions (both on television and through games), and, since it keeps pretty current, it's easy to enjoy through time. But, I think that I echo many viewers' questions when I say "where do they poll these people that they allegedly 'survey' ?!?!" 

Brief history: The show originally premiered on ABC in 1976, and was hosted by Richard Dawson. It was canceled in 1985, but CBS picked it up in 1988. Ray Combs hosted until 1994, then Dawson did another year, then the show stopped making new episodes until 1999. Over the past twelve years, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O'Hurley, and Steve Harvey have all hosted. The show has had both primetime and daytime versions. In 2010, the taping moved, and it now takes place at universal Studios in Orlando (previously, all taping has taken place in California).

The game: The idea is that someone has polled 100 people (it's generally random, but sometimes it's specified to be "100 women" or 100 "mothers," etc.) on each question. The responses have been tabulated and it is the responsibility of the contestants to figure out what the most popular answers were. At least two people have to had said a particular answer in order for it to make the board. There are two teams of five (four people in the 1994-1995 season), made up of members of a family (immediate, extended, married, whatever). For a new question, one member from each team races to answer first. If the first person gets the top response, the other person doesn't get to try. If the first response isn't on the board, or appears in any slot but #1, the other player tries for a more popular response. Whoever has the most popular response chooses to "play" or "pass" that particular round. Then, each member of the family playing takes a turn in giving an answer. Right answers go on the board; wrong answers earn a "strike." Three strikes makes it the other team's turn, and they only get one try to name something on the board. If they do, they earn all of the points from the round. Otherwise, the original "playing" team gets the points. Later rounds can earn double or triple the amount of points. The winning team at the end gets to go on for Fast Money, nominating two players to go for it. One plays first, while the other is in a soundproof booth. They are given 20 seconds to answer five questions, hoping for #1 answers. Then, the other player gets the same questions, and has 25 seconds to name different answers - if you repeat an answer, you hear a buzzer and try again. You can pass, coming back to a specific question at the end. If the combined score is 200 points or higher, the family won the top prize (if not, they got $5 for each point).The winning family also got to come back and play again. There are also tournaments of champions.

Notable changes to the way the game is played: There was a minimum of three answers until 1992, when the minimum became four. From 1988 to 1995, there was no option to "pass or play" ... the team with the best answer first got control of the board. For the 1992-1994 and 2009-2010 seasons, there was a bullseye/bankroll component where, one by one, the members of each team would compete against one another. Only the #1 response earned money for the team. Also, before 1994, the Fast Money round only gave 15 and 20 seconds (respectively) to the players. Since 2009, if a family won five times, they got a car (to share, LoL) and "retired."

Special contestants: There were themed weeks, like exes (divorced families), college students, and policemen. There have also been numerous celebrity editions, including American Idol contestants, NBA stars (and their mothers!), Playboy Playmates, Survivor contestants, and WWE stars.

Favorite Rounds: This is harder than usual to answer, since every episode is so different... and there aren't even categories or anything. I can say, however, that I enjoy the Fast Money round better than the general boards. Here's an example of Fast Money...

My take: I'd compete! I used to have a hand-held game that was a lot of fun, though it was multiple-choice, since there was no keyboard. I also used to play the facebook game every day, but that got old after a while. I'd bring my brother and sister, my husband, and my brother's girlfriend to be on my team. I think that we'd cover a good range of opinions and be able to come up with some great responses. What about you? What family members would you choose? Or do you think you'd prefer to just watch at home?

Did you ever watch Family Feud? How many of the hosts have you seen? (I don't think I've ever seen an episode with Louie Anderson hosting!)
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