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A lot can happen in 40 seconds….

November 20, 2009

You’re standing there listening to music in a headset.  You feell a tap on the shoulder.  You turn around, and you’re face to face with someone who needs you to understand what they’re talking about.  You understand, and now it’s your turn to pass it on to someone else.  Just one problem…you can’t repeat what you just heard.  You’re in the middle of a round of HOT STREAK, one of the most underrated game shows of the 1980’s.

HOT STREAK didn’t actually start out as HOT STREAL.  It actually started life as PARTY LINE.  MATCH GAME veteran host Gene Rayburn was the host of the PARTY LINE pilot episode, and did a wonderful job working with two teams of five people (men versus women), who had the daunting task of communicating a single word through all the members of the team in 40 seconds WITHOUT repeating a key word or phrase, with the members of the winning team having to communicate one more word to 9 (count ’em!) new people in the same time limit, observing the same rules.

I have to wonder why it took Reg Grundy three years to get this show to air.  I know it’s not always easy getting a new show on the airwaves, but when you have a concept as strong as HOT STREAK’s, three years seems unreasonably long.  I applaud ABC for having picked up the series in 1986, but they put the show up against a little show called THE PRICE IS RIGHT, and another little show called WHEEL OF FORTUNE…death slot times two.  They also made the mistake ( or maybe Reg Grundy dropped the ball here) of hiring a host that American audiences didn’t know from a hole in the ground:  Bruce Forsyth.

Don’t get me wrong.  Bruce is a likeable personality, genuinely interested in his contestants, loves to engage the audience, and is geneally speaking, a lot of fun to watch.  Unfortunately, his American credits were limited to a guest appearance on the Muppet Show in its first season, and a brief appearance as the Bookman’s henchman in BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS.  A more familiar name, and a better timeslot would have done wonders.  That name, though wouldn’t be Gene Rayburn, though, he was already hosting the latest version of BREAK THE BANK in syndication.

I have to admit I was scratching my head on first viewing of HOT STREAK.  I honeestly didn’t see how you could get an idea communicated through five people without repeating.  My sister was even less kind to HOT STREAK-she said it was stupid..  I watched it again, when my sister wasn’t around, and it started to grow on me.  I started to see how it WAS possible to accomplish the object of the game.  I also noticed that instead of a ticking clock, we were treated to an old fashioned silent movie style chase riff, which seemed to have a few variations throughout the main game.  Interesting touch, if you ask me.

It’s been almost 25 years since HOT STREAK came and left the airwaves, and I have been finding myself thinking about it with great fondness and longing lately.  HOT STREAK had that element of creativity that is sorely lacking in daytime TV these days.  These days, we are having courtroom reality shows, violent and foul-mouthed talk shows (I mean YOU Jerry Springer, and Maury Povich–Maury, at least you used to have class-not anymore-you’re just as sleazy),  and even sleazier tabloid news shows being forced down our throats.  I do applaud CBS, though for their new version of LET’S MAKE A DEAL…Wayne Brady and the gang are doing that right.  We need fun, we need variety, we need programming that you don’t have to worry about the kids seeing (don’t get me started on the decline and fall of kids’ TV, I have a friend who can describe that for you even better than I).  HOT STREAK may not have been a hit here the way it is in other countries, but at least Reg Grundy TRIED to do something that was all of the above.

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2 comments

  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.


    • Thanks. Like I said when I decided to change the purpose of the blog, it’s going to be for things I feel very strongly about. But, as you can see, I like to have fun talking about the neat stuff from my younger years.



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