Match Game vs. $100,000 Pyramid: Which ABC Reboot Is Most Faithful?

With this Sunday’s simultaneous launch of $100,000 Pyramid and Match Game, ABC has upped its retro game show reboot roster to a full four shows, if one lumps in (Celebrity) Family Feud with the recently premiered To Tell the Truth.

Celebrity Family Feud is now in its second season (and the “civilian” flavor has been in and out of syndicated TV), so there’s nothing much to discuss on that front — save for Kelli Pickler seemingly thinking the final round poses essay questions. To Tell the Truth meanwhile revived an oldie but goodie, in which a panel of celebrities try to deduce who of three strangers is, say, the actual inventor of pajama-like suits, and who are posers. I found ABC’s revisiting of TTtT a little faster-paced than I recall from my rugrat days, but it’s a decent enough redo.

Returning to the timely topic at hand, though, Pyramid (no matter the top-dollar denomination) and Match Game (is this properly Match Game ’16?) are near and dear to my heart, so here’s a side-by-side comparison.

SETS | God bless ’em, Match Gameboth of ABC’s new Sunday entries quite faithfully mimicked their predecessors, save for understandable upgrades from chyron’d clues and manual scoreboards. And unless I’ve been duped by digital wizardry, Pyramid appears to even be using clue categories that physically swivel (versus Family Feud’s long-ago elimination of the tactile flip-ding!). Match Game gets the edge here, though, bringing back the shag carpeting, Gene Rayburn’s wand-like hand-held mic and, the touch I most appreciated, A/B card holders that slide down into a pocket. ETA: I did mean to gripe about Match Game dropping the Ο and Δ icons, effectively taunting the semi-color blind such as myself.

SOUNDS | Both Pyramid and Match Game retained (slightly updated) versions of their classic themes as well as well-remembered sound effects a la the former’s “illegal word” buzzer and the latter’s bow-chicka-wow “thinking” music — little things that trigger big nostaglia.

GAMEPLAY | Like Feud, Match Game‘s fill-in-the-blank puzzles lent themselves to bawdy answers even more so than its previous, groovy incarnations, while Pyramid stayed quite wholesome. That said, I appreciated the topical nature of some Match Game puzzles (Hollywood Game Night, which keeps episodes on the shelf for months, should take note), or how they made reference to a panelist/host (“If a group of geese is called a gaggle, a group of Baldwin brothers is a ______”). Match Game could better balance the easiness of questions; the aforementioned, utterly freeform Baldwins Q was immensely more difficult to match an answer to than the one that followed it.

Update: The most notable rule change on either show came to the fore during Pyramid‘s second half-hour, where the tiebreaker is now won by the team that got to their score in the shortest time (versus additional rounds/categories); I was not a fan.

CELEBS | On Pyramid, you $100,000 PYRAMIDcan easily identify who is a true student of the game (e.g. Sherri Shepherd and Kathy Najimy, who with zero effort each took their partners to the winner’s circle twice) vs. a well-placed bit of network synergy (an almost painful Anthony Anderson). Of Match Game’s debut panel, Titusss Burgess, Sutton Foster and Debra Messing seemed at home, while Rosie O’Donnell was quite seamless as a snarky Charles Nelson Reilly/Brett Somers hybrid. (That said, I hope Rosie’s gifting of a vacation cruise to a losing player hasn’t set a precedent for Celebrity Apprentice-like grandiosity.) The trick for Match Game moving forward it won’t enjoy the “recurring” nature of panelists, so fond or frenemy “relationships” between them won’t form. (On the flip-side, you thankfully avoid that rut where the player picks Richard Dawson for the bonus round every. single. time.)

CONTESTANTS | Versus daytime-TV game shows which have the luxury of churning through a large volume of player types, primetime editions tend to pick straight out of “Central Casting,” going “big” sometimes to a fault. (Match Game‘s first winner kept “pulling focus” from the proceedings with hearty guffaws and an ebullience during the final round that seemed more at home on The Price Is Right or Let‘s Make a Deal.) One other observation I will offer: It would seem that with celeb Twitters and Instagrams and such, the divide between “them” and “us” has greatly vanished versus, say, the 1970s. That struck me when a Pyramid player brazenly disputed Anthony Anderson’s desire to give the final round of clues. Best I recall, there was a more venerable regard for celebrities “back in the day.”

HOSTS | Dick Clark, Bill Cullen,$100,000 PYRAMID Gene Rayburn and their peers were stars in their own right at the time, make no mistake, but Michael Strahan and Alec Baldwin are coming from a different place, one where they are more likely to have mingled at an event with a celeb player, or had them as a guest on their talk show. On Pyramid, that served Strahan well, as evidenced by his playful camaraderie with Anderson (especially as they each joked about getting mistaken for each other). Baldwin meanwhile surprised me with how easily he slipped into the host role, not giving any whiff that it was a “step down” for a two-time Emmy-winning actor.

What did you think of ABC’s latest game-show reboots, and how they compare to previous incarnations?




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96 Comments
  1. I loved the Match Game! It reminded me of the origial game show which I loved watching. Great choice to have Alec Baldwin host and Rosie O’Donnell on the panel. I hope they keep it on for longer than just the summer.

  2. Kevin K says:

    Match Game with Alec Baldwin. Like the way they brought back the iconic theme music and the vintage skinny microphone which is awesome. Rosie O’Donnell is like the Brett Somers of the show.

  3. Lolli says:

    On the game play front, Match Game stayed a bit more true than Pyramid. On the new version of Pyramid, they changed the way ties are played. It used to be one contestant was given a letter and timed as to how long it took them to play it, then the next contestant had to do their letter in a better time. Now it’s just who solved a previous category faster.

    Glad they are both back. I liked Baldwin a little better than Strahan as a host. And love that Rosie is in the “Brett Sommers” Match Game seat.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Ah, that tie must have been in the Rosie/Najimy half. I too prefer the former rule.

      • Jim says:

        That was the episode to watch. Both Rosie & Kathy (who was on Pyramid as a contestant years ago) were outstanding, as opposed to the disappointing Anthony Anderson. One flub by the contestant kept it from being 2 21-21 ties.

    • Donnalee Peters says:

      I agree with Lolli as far as picking a letter in case of a tie. I’m not happy with Strahan. It seems He has so many different jobs since leaving Kelly, who will he be loyal to. Back in the day…I LOVED pyramid! He doesn’t fit the profile!!
      Alex Baldwin is awesome, the original skinny long mic haha. Rosie is GREAT! Luv,LUV Titus …The show is pretty close to original. At night…. you could get away with saying some things vs daytime shows. I love both these shows. A little tweeking then we’re all good. GREAT SHOWS…SO GLAD THEYRE BACK!!!

  4. E. D. Boddy says:

    Could have written that review myself! A few notes..
    All shows: loyal to the fond memories, no gimmicky changes to the game-play like previous revival attempts that never got off the ground. Good updates of the technology.
    TTTT: I like the “before you go” segment, where one imposter has a true story of their own, and I liked last week, where a drag queen truth-teller came back in regular clothing as an imposter.
    PYRAMID was great. Best change – the CIVILIAN gives the clues in the Winners Circle. I always hated shows where a contestant loses a big prize because a celebrity gave an illegal clue. (Anthony Anderson was a terrible clue-giver, hence, the contestant’s insistence on giving on his 3rd set.) And the cuckoo is back!
    MATCH GAME: a friend attended a taping and said prepare for the worst (lots of Alec f-bombs). There must have been a ton of editing from what she reported, because the final product was decent. But while the 70s version had its raunchiness, it was all in the MIND, and we liked it because we really WERE twelve at the time, and seeing adults say “boobs,” “buns,” “bazooms,” and “tinkle” was funny. Now, as with the 1998 failure, it’s not so cute when it’s so blatant. Game shows should be suitable for the whole family.
    ROSIE: say what you will about her, but she is a great game-show player.
    RICHARD DAWSON was completely overrated. He was always praised for his ability to pick the #1 Super Match answer. Of course he did – he was always CHOSEN first! With that advantage, ANYONE could do that.

    • Suzan Baroni says:

      Couldn’t agree more! I, too, wished Match Game would cut the raunchiness. It does not add anything and, frankly, just made me uncomfortable. For the same reason, I was not fond of the TTtT reboot. When I was a kid I was a game show fanatic and LOVED the new shows being true to the sets. That was the best part.

      • Margie says:

        Suzan, I am so glad someone mentioned that. It made me uncomfortable too. I am very fond of the original Match Game and somehow this one disappointed me. I will tune in one more time to give it a chance.

        • Faythe Chairty says:

          There was a Canadian reboot of Match Game a few years ago – go watch that. It was so much better.

        • Jan says:

          Last night’s MG 7-17 was absolutely disgusting. Between Alec B; Leah Reminii and some comedian called Leslie…they all acted like such JERKS. If I had been a contestant on this show, I would have walked out in a heartbeat. Whatever made them think that Alec Baldwin would make a good host. Contestants were left to fend for themselves. He is the most vulgar person on the planet. Loved it when Rosey was on.

    • If I recall correctly, the contestant always had the choice to give or receive in the winner’s circle – they just usually chose to receive. Love the reboot and hope it goes on beyond the summer season.

      • E. D. Boddy says:

        At one time, yes, but I think in some of the later versions, it was always the celebrity giving, with no choice.

        • Michael Pierce says:

          At the very beginning of the original $10,000 Pyramid the celebrity always gave the winner’s circle clues. Eventually I believe the producers realized that contestants were losing in the winners circle because of crappy clue-giving, so they allowed the contestant to choose whether they would give or receive the clues. In the Donny Osmond version, clearly the crappiest game show reboot in the history of game show reboots, during the first season, only the celebrities gave the clues.

          • Avery says:

            The biggest issue with the DO version of Pyramid, in my opinion, was the fact that Estelle ? (from Seinfeld) was on regularly. Lovely woman, but she couldn’t give a succinct clue in a timely manner, to save her life.

    • Philip says:

      E.D. Did your friend tell you which celebrities were at their taping? Just curious.

      I think Pyramid gets celebs who are good game show players like Rosie and YNB. Match Game does that as well, but also, since they got Alec, they also got access to his Rolodex (SNL, 30ROCK)

      • E. D. Boddy says:

        She didn’t mention celebs, so this may not have been the one she saw. (You’re right about YNB.)

  5. Ro says:

    I would love to watch these shows (especially Match Game). But I cut the cable cord and I can’t get the ABC affiliate on my antenna… the frequency/signal must be too low. :-(

  6. AngelWasHere says:

    I missed To Tell Truth. What time did it come on? I liked the Match Game OK, but it’s missing or lacking something. I can’t figure it out.

    • Rob Horine says:

      Tuesdays at 10pm.

    • Michael Pierce says:

      There is no familiarity among the celebrity panel. It took several months before the 70’s Match Game found its groove when they had Brett, Charles and Richard in place, with the rotating 6th chair (Betty White, Fannie Flagg, Marcia Wallace, Patti Deutch, Joyce Bulifant).

  7. Amy says:

    Loved Match Game! Thought they did a great job. My heart sang when I saw the shag carpet and heard the music. Pyramid was enjoyable as well. It’s fun to watch great clue givers roll thru the answers. But, I hated Celebrity Family Feud. It’s FAMILY Feud, with stars and their families (some of which were in high school) and almost every question had to do with sex. Talk about lowest common denominator TV. Granted, I had no idea this has been on TV before and perhaps it is like this every celebrity episode and what do I know. Match Game is supposed to be racy and did it well. CFF was angering. Shaking my finger at you CFF.

    • Allan says:

      Amy, YES! Glad I wasn’t the only one bothered by Celebrity Family Feud. I mean, seriously, practically every single question?! Like you said, lowest common denominator…was just no need. It can be fun and entertaining without lame questions like name a sports ball that can cover your man’s private parts (seriously?!)

    • . (@yikes77) says:

      The regular version is…exactly the same thing now. LOTS of innuendo. And that’s in the middle of the day.

    • valerie tower says:

      Totally agree. Abc totally blew it with cff. Lost a great opportunity to be a family show. I won’t watch it again.

  8. Avery says:

    I like Alec Baldwin, I do, but if I’m being honest, I found him gross. First, “grower vs. shower” then insinuating that if the contestant wanted to give him a BJ, she should see “daddy” after the show. I felt like I needed a shower.

    Now, I enjoyed the actual game a lot & I’ll keep watching. I know limericks are an MG staple but seriously, What else was going to rhyme with “sticky?” I’m glad she won but I did feel bad for the other contestant. :)

    I also want to know how much KJ won, that it paid her rent for 3 years? :)

    • David says:

      I’m a longtime MG watcher, and I never remember limericks — that was the base of the copycat “Rhyme and Reason” in the ’70s.

  9. Rob Horine says:

    A big plus for Alec Baldwin, he knew he couldn’t match Gene Rayburn, and he didn’t try to. He was calm and kept the show moving. Better than the host of MG98. I hope they bring back the Star Wheel.

  10. Walkie says:

    Nice to see Alec Baldwin has completely given up on his career. He’s going the Whoopi Goldberg route of the least amount of effort.

  11. Kim says:

    For the love of god, NO MORE JB SMOOVE. Match Game was always my favorite, but his over the top antics completely ruin the show. Really? Getting up to look at everyone else’s answers? Stop it. I am praying that its different panelists each week.

  12. . (@yikes77) says:

    I’m waiting for Alec to bust out his Charles Nelson Riley impression. Missed Pyramid, but Match Game has always been a favourite of mine so I enjoyed it. Plus they also had shag carpeting!

  13. Rodney Hanes says:

    Loved both MatchGame & Pyramid. Huge fan of the originals. With Pyramid, only issue is the winner’s circle game is much too easy, unlike the original. For MatchGame I was quite impressed, as I truly felt the original (70’s) could never be duplicated, but Baldwin & panel did a bang-up job.
    Celebrity Family Fued sucks, as it did last summer. Stupid, stupid questions.

  14. Demzer says:

    pyramid was very good solid. but match game rocked. and alec doing this is not a step down at all… his whole career has been doing different things and he’s shown willingness to do anything that’s good… knots landing… big movies… indie movies… sitcoms… SNL… talk shows… game shows… i think people said the same thing when he walked into 30 rock… and now walking into rayburn’s shows for a primetime gig is absolutely consistent with his career…

  15. Tom Smith says:

    I’m offended that JB Smooth made a gun jester at he beginning of the show 5 yr old children get kick out of school for this, Rosie should have had him kicked off the show

  16. Jodie Watson says:

    I like them both but match a little better. would love if they would bring back Hollywood Squares. Rosie could be Center Square.

  17. Bruce says:

    ABC has a winner with Pyramid but the others in my opinion can go. There are many reasons why I didnt think they were that good but why the writers think that every question has to have a sexual theme is beyond me. When does anal sex and hickies become standard fare for topics in the prime time slot. It becomes that game shows were programs children could watch. I hope they can tone it down a bit on Family Feud and Match Game. Toilet humor should be saved for Cable.

  18. Faythe Chairty says:

    The Canadian Match Game that ran a few years ago was my favorite.

  19. valerie tower says:

    Loved all 3 of these reboots. Great job abc. The epic fail is celebrity family feud. So disappointed that the show is so sexual. Could have been a great family show. Also, Anthony Anderson needs to stick with hosting after his poor performance on pyramid.

  20. Philip says:

    Anyone know any other celebs who will appear on Match Game from the 4 episodes taped two weeks ago.
    I know that there is an ep with Horatio Sanz, Isaac Mizrahi, DL Hughley, Edie Falco and Sherri Shepherd, but do not know who were in the other 2.

  21. fatalsin says:

    I thought Alec was unfunny and came of as a snarky jack*** he cant help it though its just who he is lol But im glad Match Game is back I loved the old ones!

  22. Dee says:

    I love the remake of the old shows. Michael strahan was a disappointment as host of pyramid. Looked like he did not know what he was doing next. Dick Clark is praying for a replacement. Alec Baldwin was a great host. Gene Rayburn would be proud. To Tell The Truth is way too rushed. Slow down and ask more questions. As usual Steve Harvey is a fabulous host and adds so much to the feud.

    • anonymous says:

      Well Dee, unless you call adding sexual and toilet humor to his “ability” for in your words “fabulous host”.

      To me he’s just a creepy sick perverted d*bag who trying to get the African-American crowd to watch this one beloved Mark Goodson classic and really doesn’t care one iota 9in cleaning up.

      BTW I never watch the regular and the ABC Celebrity edition since he ruined the franchise in my opinion.

  23. D arnone says:

    Was it really necessary to bash trump on both game shows enough is enough it is suppose to be a game show not a political bashing show and some comments were really raunchy I will not watch it again and they use to be my very favorites to watch

    • j says:

      FINALLY someone said what i was thinking! I can’t stand Rosie and i will NOT be watching the march game again which is disappointing because I was looking forward to seeing the new remake. STAY OFF THE POLITICAL STUFF!

    • Elisabeth LaMar says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, I think they were trying to pander to Rosie O. Shame on you, I will not watch again.

    • Mike says:

      Why don’t you just air Hillary commercials instead. I won’t be watching your shows anymore.

  24. Kevin Nagle says:

    You said that you didn’t catch the Rosie O/Kathy Najimy half-hour — that’s too bad, as the gameplay and energy was fantastic. I’d strongly encourage you to seek out (it’s on ABC’s website now for viewing) and watch. It was simply fantastic Pyramid, and to me made Pyramid the clear winner between the two debuts.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      I caught the second half-hour yesterday at the gym, and yes it was better (save for the BUMBLEBEE FIASCO). Also… it showed us the new tiebreaker rule which I don’t care for vs. the old one. So, edge: Match Game!

      • BillyBobJohnson says:

        How in the hell do you NOT say BUMBLEBEE, or any BEE, when the clue says “Things That Sting”. Maybe the guy should have busted out his best version of “Roxanne”.

  25. JM says:

    I loved Match Game’s reboot — but I did not care for Alec Baldwin as host. (And I like Alec Baldwin, the actor.) He was too leering. Game Show Hosts need to be “innocents,” even if feigned. Strahan hiding on the floor with embarrassment at a dirty answer is 10x funnier than Baldwin’s own aloof egging.

  26. Bart says:

    Match game had one chance to make a good impression on me. What a joke! I was aggravated that they had to be so political. I’m tired of this crap in the news and watching this childish low class crap on the show lost me instantly. Since the first show was horrible with crappy questions and an Un interesting host, I will not watch again. Alek Baldwin is funny as hell on most shows but he is not a game show host! 👎👎👎

  27. Luke says:

    Minor note, which was a bit of a letdown: Baldwin’s skinny microphone (a Sony ECM-51 for those keeping score) seems to just be a prop. Both Baldwin and the contestants had lavalier mics, rendering a handheld mic unnecessary. While understandable from a technical perspective (the original mic hasn’t been made in years, and existing ones may be temperamental; plus the sound from new lav mics is probably better and more consistent), I found it a bit distracting knowing it had no practical purpose.

    As far as the game went overall, it was better than I would have expected, but there was a chemistry with Rayburn, the panelists, and the questions that I doubt will ever be replicated. As noted, the ’70s version did a great job straddling the line between raunchy and clean, with lots of clever innuendo.

    I disagree about Richard Dawson though. He had a great rapport with the contestants and was usually on the same wavelength.

  28. Michael Pierce says:

    I agree with most of what you wrote here. On Pyramid, Anthony Anderson was NOT “in it to win it.” Clearly he was “in it to goof around.” I do not, even remotely blame the contestant for wanting to give the clues in the final round. That decision belongs to the contestant and should never have been disputed by Anderson. Clearly, no one taught him how to play the game, or he fell asleep during class. Shepard, O’Donnll and Najimy played the game flawlessly. I also agree that the tie-breaker should be another round. Cut out some of the clowning if it goes “overtime.” Pyramid is not a comedy game show. In terms of Match Game, I just found it too phallic. Just like Family Feud. This is not necessary to be funny. The 70’s Match Game danced around crude answers with tittilating answers. What’s funnier than “boobs” and “bra” and “tinkle”? :)

  29. Larry Estep says:

    You did indeed see hand turned LCD trillons on both the category board and winners circle boards on Pyramid. That was great. I miss the tie breakers too. I thought the celebrities introducing the players was odd but overall the closest and best remake to the original Pyramid yet.

  30. lauren says:

    I loved old repeats of the Match Game, but I just couldn’t get through the reboot, too boring.. Alec’s just not funny, they should have gone with a comic as host.. Ben Glieb from GSN’s Idiot Test would be perfect!

  31. Turning the Channel, Won't be Back says:

    Match Game, why did ABC have to go from entertainment to make it political?

    The biased question against Trump.
    Hollywood liberals thinking they are sooooooo elited..
    Yet, where is the Hillary question for balance?

    Sanctimonious crap from hypocrite liberals.
    The bias was a total turnoff.
    I turned the channel.

  32. Joe Davis says:

    Don’t like that pyramid doesn’t have a 7-11 in the first round . Don’t like only contestants giving clues in the winner’s circle.

  33. A. Andrews says:

    Oh the whiners posting comments! Match Game is too political, too suggestive. Don’t pick on poor Donald Trump. Boo hoo! It’s a game show folks. Get over yourselves!

  34. cindy says:

    Bring back Name that Tune.

  35. Disappointed Viewer says:

    Has it occurred to you people that the content of Match Game is totally inappropriate for prime time, non-pay per view audiences? Very disappointing.

  36. Marg says:

    Why does Alec Baldwin hold that ridiculous microphone

  37. Sue says:

    Match game too crude. Bad choice for host. I just love Pyramid. Michael is awesome host..when you start turning game shows into circuses. They always fail. Deal or no deal was a great example.. People want to watch a game show and not stupid antics

  38. Josh Farmer says:

    Match Game is the absolute worst game show I have ever seen in my entire life. I have seen all the game shows and this is beyond terrible. ABC should definitely get rid of Baldwin and get better celebrities or this show will be cancelled. 100,000 Pyramid was a great reboot by ABC and should definitely be on next summer!! Loved it! I say the same about Celebrity Family Fued.

  39. Mandy says:

    I’m enjoying Pyramid but Match Game not so much. Baldwin is doing a good job but just not into it like I was the original, I will say this though Rosie is a great game player and a great fit for the show.

  40. Cindy Moore says:

    Baldwin is pathetic as a host! Panelists try TOO hard to be funny. Too many questions are crude or angle to be such . The old show would have a few , but this version tries to go overboard …rework it with better writing or Forget It!!

  41. DeanEricCollins says:

    What I want to know is what happened to the 7-11 portion of the new $100,000 Pyramid game on ABC?

  42. Boss says:

    Love 100,000 Pyramid. Thank you for not making it vulgar. I don’t estch any if the Family Feud shows for that reason.

    Hate the new Match Game…just another disgusting, vulgar game show! WHY THE NEED FOR SUCH VULGARITY? Will not be watching it again – never ever really liked it anyway.

    Bring back Password.

  43. Kenny says:

    I hope they bring betty white on Match game for one show. she was on in the 70…. Great Show… I hope they keep it for fall seasons…….

  44. Kenny says:

    I hope they bring betty white on Match game for one show. she was on in the 70…. Great Show… I hope they keep it for fall seasons

  45. Ella Compagnola says:

    The match game stars take over the show.. contestants Act foolish can take over the show as for Alec Alec Baldwin I didn’t think I would like him as host but he’s the only thing I really like I think the questions today Archie’s sexual it’s funny sometimes but all the time it’s sickening would not like to see it go off the air I enjoyed it old Match Game I was hoping this would be more like it

    • Jan says:

      I like the old match game better. The current version of the show is all about the celebrities and the contestants tend to get lost. Alec Baldwin is a jerk and anyone could’ve emceed this show

  46. Sheila says:

    Match Game–absolute mess. Do something about that awful Cheryl. The old show was one of my favorites. I tried to keep an open mind, but vulgarity just for the sake of being stupidly nasty is ridiculous. Get that mess out of prime time.

    • George Strum says:

      I agree. The new show is much more vulgar. They should keep the same celebrities instead of changing them every show.

  47. Carina N. Cheeks says:

    Only 3 game shows I’d ever watch, and they are Match Game, To Tell the Truth, and Family Fued. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Betty White, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Harvey are the funniest of them all.

  48. Kim says:

    Tonight I watched match game I have never been so offended by Leslie so blatantly wanting the white contestant to lose it was appalling talk about racist I

  49. George Strum says:

    Why aren’t contestant’s last names given on Match and Pyramid?

  50. Judie says:

    Stars appearing 100k need to be screened. Stars…. maybe but some are unfit mentally to be playing this game. Some are just too slow. They rob the contestants of a change to win.