‘Match Game’ gets a modern Canadian reboot on Comedy Network

“Mary liked to pour gravy on John’s blank.” “I got my blank stuck on a soda bottle.” “I think Batman and Robin are blank.” If those phrases bring to mind the twang of a wawa-guitar lick, an odd antenna microphone, and Charles Nelson Reilly, you may want to check out Match Game, a remake of […]

“Mary liked to pour gravy on John’s blank.”
“I got my blank stuck on a soda bottle.”
“I think Batman and Robin are blank.”

If those phrases bring to mind the twang of a wawa-guitar lick, an odd antenna microphone, and Charles Nelson Reilly, you may want to check out Match Game, a remake of the popular celebrity game show from the ’70s.

The original Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production was the No. 1 series in all of daytime for three consecutive years (1973-76), drawing an astounding 11 million U.S. viewers at its peak. It made go-to panellist Richard Dawson, who went on to host Family Feud, one of the biggest stars in daytime.

Come Monday at 8 p.m., the Comedy Network hopes a new generation will want to sample a new daily version of the game, which is built on an incredibly simple premise: a host (originally Gene Rayburn) reads cheeky phrases with blanks in them. Celebrities write down what they think should fill in the blanks. Two players try to match the celebrity guesses. The player with the most matches wins.

The key to the original, as writer Dick DeBartolo admitted in the 2006 GSN documentary The Real Match Game Story: Behind The Blank, was making the phrases sound dirty. A Mad Magazine writer, DeBartolo would type up phrases such as “the explorers were amazed to see a little penguin blanking a giant whale.” That was pretty risque for audiences used to polite TV game shows like Password.

Times have changed and language on TV is more explicit, but there are still words you can’t say on specialty channels, agrees comedienne Debra DiGiovanni. The Tillsonburg, Ont.-native joins Sean Cullen as a regular on this new Canadian panel.

“While we get away with a lot, we’re still going for the 8 o’clock market,” she says. “You won’t be embarrassed to watch with your parents.”

But that may depend on your parents, suggests host Darrin Rose.

“You’ll be shocked by the number of euphemisms for genitalia they came up with,” he says, adding DiGiovanni and Cullen “can really find their way around a word.”

The new show features a who’s who of Canadian comedy talent, including Tom Green, Colin Mochrie, Samantha Bee, Jeremy Hotz and Scott Thompson, as well as U.S. stars such as Janeane Garofalo and Andy Kindler.

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