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March 16, 2005


The Collective Wisdom of 100 People

Dawson's feud

Now, I'm not going to make any apologies for my deep love of Family Feud. Frankly, when the winter's dragging on and you're a little congested, there's nothing better than coming home to the PAX channel at the end of the day for a little entertainment lite. Today's Feud, hosted by that guy from Home Improvement on a sterile, brightly-lit set, is the ultimate in empty-calorie entertainment. It's kind of like the sugarless gum of television; tasty and generally harmless, but also not particularly good for you.

This Feud, while calming after a long day, is a far cry from the show I used to love. I speak of course of Richard Dawson's Feud. Dawson's show was a little off kilter; appealing, yet slightly sleazy. The brown set looked like your basement rec room, and the contestents were so sadly anxious to please. If you were a female contestant, you knew that Dawson was going to tongue-kiss you and your mother - and that you were both going to like it. A gentleman of my acquaintance is fond of saying that "you only have to look at that guy to know he smells like scotch."

But the host is only part of the show's overall brilliance. The genius appeal of The Feud is that to win, you don't have to be the smartest team, or have the most knowledge. All you have to do is think like everyone else. Has there ever been a more empowering concept, particularly in our current climate of opinion outweighing fact? People, there is a sociology dissertation in there somewhere.

One of my favorite examples is this classic Dawson exchange I witnessed on the Game Show Network a while back, during the "Fast Money" round. This is the part of the game where two team members must answer the same questions without duplicating each other's answers:

First round:
R. Dawson: Name something, besides food, that makes you thirsty.
Family member 1: Pretzels.

Second round:
R. Dawson: Name something, besides food, that makes you thirsty.
Family member 2: Pretzels.
[Buzzer: errr! errr!]
Family member 2: Cake.

This exchange begs the question - do Feud editors throw out nonsensical or incorrect survey answers? I think not. On one legendary episode, a family member answered the question, "A time most people go to bed" with, "at night." The audience laughed, but I'll be damned if 2 of those 100 people surveyed didn't say the same thing. The only way to be wrong on The Feud is to not agree with everyone else.

But sometimes it upsets you to find out what the rest of America believes. And this is what happened to me Monday night, when this question came up: "On a trip to New York, name one thing you'd be sure to see." My specialty!

"Homeless people!" I shouted excitedly at the television. "Scientologists! Hot dog vendors!"

As it turns out, I don't think like 100 people surveyed at all. What were the top answers? Statue of Liberty. Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center (which they gave to the contestent who said "Radio City Music Hall" even though they are not the same thing.)

And of course, Ground Zero.

I didn't really know what to do with that. I don't think the family did either. It's not really the answer that makes you want to scream "GOOD ANSWER GOOD ANSWER!" and high-five your sister-in-law. Even though that happened.

I guess what really bothered me was that the Family Feud Seal of 100 People Surveyed now ensures, beyond a doubt, that the site of a national tragedy has become a tourist destination. And that made me very uncomfortable.

I hate to end on such a depressing note, so let's address another important issue. Are we too safe in our entertainment choices today? Can we only accept the sugarless gum of the PAX channel? Or is it time for the naughty Dawson-era Feud to make a comeback?

We think it is, and that's why we're taking nominations for a new host. Imagine, if you will, that the Feud is going to replace Wheel of Fortune at 7:30 on a major network. This host needs to be someone charming, relatively mainstream, and a little bit dangerous. I choose Chris Rock. Amy suggested O.J. Simpson but I think he's just too damn scary.

100 Amy's Robot readers surveyed - top answers in the comments section!

categories: TV
posted by Emily at 6:54 PM | #

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How about Michael Jackson? He's dangerous ..

Posted by: Georgina M at March 17, 2005 2:33 AM

I hear Robert Blake is available

Posted by: Cushie at March 17, 2005 3:30 AM

Chris Rock! Good answer, good answer!

Posted by: Pamsterdam at March 17, 2005 3:39 AM

I would also propose Sammy Hagar, who would crack off-color jokes and leer good-naturedly at all the ladies in the finest Dawson tradition.

Or, now think about this one, Marianne Faithful. That cackle! Her abilities as a game-show host would definitely be enhanced if she went back to the drugs.

Posted by: amy at March 17, 2005 9:53 AM

Debra Winger. She's middle-aged, she's a little past-it, and just angry about it enough to be dangerous.

Posted by: toobeaut at March 17, 2005 11:38 AM

Aw hell, let's just clone Bob Barker and let him host ALL the game shows!

Posted by: MSosostris at March 17, 2005 1:48 PM

Jon Lovitz. He's kind of skeezy. I was flipping the channels and HBO had that "Unscripted" show on, and there he was macking with some 20-something year old. I was like,"people have SEX with Jon Lovitz? Raise your hand if Ew."

Posted by: Jackie at March 17, 2005 2:18 PM

gene simmons. i have yet to see an interview or guest spot with gene simmons in which he has not inappropriately touched someone.

Posted by: kississsik at March 17, 2005 4:23 PM

denis leary - smart, polite, and a complete asshole. what a perfect fit.

Posted by: oc at March 18, 2005 11:17 AM

i vote for roseanne barr, and let the guys fear getting kissed.


rosie o'donnell, and rename it the L-family feud

Posted by: onefineguy at March 18, 2005 5:12 PM

This is the two-thousands... It should be the reanimated corpse of John F. Kennedy himself.

Posted by: Photojunkie at March 29, 2005 4:34 PM

Stephen Colbert!!!

Posted by: beau at April 14, 2008 6:05 PM

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