Canadians have definitely given the world some iconic TV game show hosts (ahem, Alex Trebek), but we've also provided endless hours of cheesy, tacky game shows for the entire planet to enjoy.
Yep, we're talking about "Pitfall," "Chain Reaction," "Bumper Stumpers" and the like. If you didn't know better, you could swear that Canada's sole export in the '80s was game shows. No joke.
Don't believe us? Check it out.
'Just Like Mom' (1980-85)
This epic entry in the Canadian TV canon featured kids being asked questions about their mothers and families (now <em>very</em> inappropriate), and the much-loved Baking Round, where fun ingredients like chocolate chips, Gatorade and marshmallows were combined to make various baked goods (see video). Then Mom had the taste test, which was the climax of every episode. With all the touching and candid questions, a show like this could never air nowadays.
'Bumper Stumpers' (1987-90)
This game show goes down in history as having the best (read: worst) theme song of all time. It features -- of course -- honking car horns. Contestants are challenged to decipher vanity license plates. That's it. You can see how this game show had its limits. Eventually they <em>had</em> to run out of plate ideas.
This game's pretty fun -- two teams "talk about" people, places and things, trying to say every single word associated with the topic. The teams compete to finish up the list, and whoever does first, wins. You can tell the show's Canadian when they say "Talkabout." Just sayin'.
'Acting Crazy' (1991-92, 1994)
Just when you thought real-life charades was fun, "Acting Crazy" came along and upped the ante. Featuring D-list Canadian celebrities and comedians, average folk would be teamed up with the celebs to play charades. (Fun fact: Marcia Wallace, the voice of Edna Krabappel on "The Simpsons," was a frequent player.)
'Chain Reaction' (1986-91)
The concept is simple: complete the chain of connected words. From the fantastic '80s set to the awkward host back-and-forth, this popular game show really set the stage for future Canadian gems.
'Anything You Can Do' (1971-74)
Think today's world is sexist? You should try to make it through this game, which pits men and women against each other in a series of mental and physical challenges -- often ridiculous, as you'll see in this video. (Boy, times have changed.)
Headline Hunters (1972-1983)
In possibly one of the ugliest game-show sets of all time, contestants are tasked with identifying a newsmaker or event from clues given in the form of headlines. It makes up for the boredom by actually imparting knowledge. Think of it as the poor man's "Jeopardy."
'Supermarket Sweep' (1992-95)
Pretty much exactly the same as the other iterations of "Supermarket Sweep," the Canadian version features pairs of contestants as they answer questions about grocery store items. Then there's the infamous shopping round, where they run around the store with grocery carts, jamming things into their carts to up their final tallies. The cross-section of contestants in the early '90s is entertainment at its finest.
Hosted by Alex Trebek (check out that stache! And hair!), "Pitfall" was more physical than your typical game show, and it also utilized the audience. Most exciting was the Pitfall Round (see video). The company that produced the show, Catalena Productions, went bankrupt in 1982, so several later-winning contestants didn't get paid. Nor did Trebek, who keeps his bounced cheque framed on his wall.
One of the longest-running game shows in Canadian history, "Definition" was loosely based on Hangman, and had some "Wheel of Fortune" aspects to it. Every answer is a pun that works with the given topic -- and that's about as fun as it gets. Insomniacs, take note!
'The Mad Dash' (1978-1985)
Ever dreamed of being a board game piece? You'd be in luck, then, if you were a contestant on "The Mad Dash." One member of each pair elected to be the "dasher," who would run the life-sized game board, while the "roller" remained at the host's podium until the dasher made it to the end. With such stellar prizes as a pen set and a shirt, it's no surprise this was super-popular.
Man, when we were kids, we <em>really</em> wanted to be on this show. It wasn't only because we wanted to sit in the cool race cars, but they had awesome kid-oriented toy prizes like the NES, a microscope and remote-control cars. Watching the video now, it seems like it was just a vehicle (pun intended) for kids to embarrass their families.
Sixteen contestants competed for an entire week, with one designated King/Queen of the Hill, who stood at a circular podium. The other 15 contestants, numbered 1 through 15, were seated in bleachers. Each had a special wallet containing a riddle and a varying cash amount -- and then, depending on whether the King/Queen got the right answers, he/she or the riddle-asker would win the coveted jackpot.