Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's Make a Deal!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Hey! Remember that we were doing Game Show spotlights on Monday for the longest time? Well, we haven't posted one in about five months, but we have three last installments that have been sitting around, waiting for the light of day. So, we're going to post them over the course of the next month to wrap up that series. We apologize for the long delay, but if you've been stopping by you've probably noticed that we doubled the number of posts we do last August, and it's been pretty steady ever since. Please enjoy the remaining game shows in our series spotlight!
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When I was a young girl, my mother and grandmother would joke about their large handbags - how they needed to have everything on hand, though they didn't carry hard-boiled eggs.They claimed that they needed to have so many things available at any time, so that they'd have them if they needed, or if someone else was in need. Plus, they might someday fall into favor with someone or win a prize for having all sorts of random items available at a moment's notice (that is, if they could find them in those large pocketbooks... but that's a different story), which is an idea that stems from Let's Make a Deal.
Brief history: The original Let's Make a Deal was a daytime show that ran from 1963-1976, on both ABC and NBC affiliates. An evening syndicated version aired from 1971-1977. By 1974, the show was ridiculously popular, and the wait-time for a ticket to be in the studio audience was often more than two years! The show returned for the 1980-1981 season, via a Canadian-based revival, then was re-branded as The All New Let's Make a Deal for 1984-1986. NBC played with another daytime adaptation from 1990 to 1991 and for three episodes in 2003. In Fall 2009, yet another version appeared, this time on CBS. It is still running in syndication, and is notably one of the few CBS shows to be broadcast solely in standard definition. More than ten other countries have seen the show, with Greece, Poland, and Indonesia still making episodes. I was rather surprised to learn that they were still producing new episodes, but apparently the show is still pretty popular - there are slot machines, lottery tickets, a new-in-2010 board game, and a DVD game, in addition to the home games of years ago. 

The game: The basic idea of this show is to be an audience member and hope that the host picks you to be a "trader." The show became synonymous with audience members wearing ridiculous costumes, in hopes that they would be more likely to be noticed and selected. Couples could also be chosen to participate. There are a variety of games, but basically, you're offered a prize and you can either take it or trade it for an unknown prize (kinda like "door number 1, 2, or 3?"). The prizes ranged from cash, cars, and televisions to trips, furs, and "zonks," which encompassed items that were generally useless, crazy, or of a very low value.
There are also games that are pure luck/chance, such as "choose one of these three keys, hoping it unlocks that door," "flip some cards and hope that a certain total sum is reached within a certain number of cards," and rolling dice. There are a few games that require some skill, however, such as "is $x.xx the price of A or B?" and "what year was ___ introduced to the US market?"

The "final round" of the game is called "The Big Deal." The player who won the most money/stuff so far is asked first if they'd like to give it all up to try for The Big Deal. If that person declines, each other player is asked in order of greatest earnings to least. It's the "door number 1, 2, or 3?" thing all over, but this time one of the door is guaranteed to reveal a higher-valued prize than anything else seen all game. Trouble is, it's still a gamble which you'll choose, and you could wind up with much less than you had already won.
At the end of the show, the host does "fast deals" (or "quick deals"), which is along the lines of the hard-boiled egg joke I referenced earlier. The host asks the audience to come up with a certain item and they can be rewarded for it. Sometimes it is something like a hard-boiled egg, other times it would be a dollar bill with a certain number on it, etc.

Notable changes to the way the game is played:
Since we've come a long way in the past forty years, two major changes to the game are the prizes (when's the last time you saw a fur coat given away on television?) and the use of technology. Regarding the latter, CBS uses twitter to suggest items that audience members may want to carry with them to tapings of the show. There have also been several game aspects that were short-lived, such as the addition of "The Super Deal" after "The Big Deal,"  which was offered to Big Deal winners during the 1975-1976 season. You could go again on "Door 1, 2, or 3?" to have a shot at up to $30,000 in cash and prizes. At least here, though, you wouldn't walk away with nothing - if you chose to play and lost, you'd receive a consolation prize of at least one thousand dollars. Also, from 1984 to 1986, "Door Number 4" was commonly played, where the "trader" would spin a 20-section wheel to try and win money. If, after your first spin, you thought that you could win more, you could spin again... but a lower amount would negate any winnings at all.

Special contestants: Lance Bass and Leslie Nielsen both played Let's Make a Deal as part of Gameshow Marathon during the summer of 2006. Otherwise, I'm struggling to find any history of celebrities and special guests appearing on the show as traders.

Favorite Rounds: I'll have to say that "Fast Deals" are the most interesting to me, since the "chance" factor is a bit removed, making it less stressful and more interesting to watch. Though I must admit... my favorite thing about the show isn't any of the rounds - it's seeing what the audience is wearing! You can see some outlandish outfits in the background of this clip, but I chose this one primarily for the fact that you get a chance to see how many decisions you might have to make and what the variance in prize possibilities (in today's game) are.

My take:
I'd go to a taping because it would be neat, but it's not really my type of game. I struggle a great deal with having to choose one mystery thing over another, and then agonize later over what influenced my choice and if I should have chosen differently. Plus, although I've done well at bridal showers and Mary Kay parties with games like "who has ___ in their purse," I don't think I'd excel here - I don't like a cluttered purse and I'd probably try to come up with too many things that they might possibly ask for, thus weighing me down.

Do you (or did you) ever watch Let's Make a Deal? Did you see more than one version of it, or just the newest one? What would you do to make yourself noticeable?
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