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Review: ABC's 'Match Game' Hosted by Alec Baldwin

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 14, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 14, 2019 |


This is my fourth and final review of Pajiba’s First and Likely Only Ever Game Show Week, wherein we review the reboots of game shows we never actually saw the first time around (with the exception of Press Your Luck). Appropriately enough, Match Game is basically the whammy of the bunch.

First off, unlike Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, Press Your Luck and Card Sharks, this was not the series premiere of Match Game on ABC. Somehow, this is the fourth season of the rebooted game show, hosted by Alec Baldwin. In fact, this show kind of inspired the the whole celebrity game show host trend, so you can all thank Baldwin for that.

And here’s the thing: I don’t like Alec Baldwin, and Alec Baldwin is still the best thing about Match Game, which says about all you need to know about it. The concept is simple and inane because a game show that might actually challenge contestants or viewers obviously would never work on primetime.

So, here’s how it works: Two contestants whose entire personality can be boiled down and written on a single card are asked to fill in the blank on a random saying, which typically works as a double entendre. For instance, “He says it’s a sin to covet thy neighbor’s squeaky toy, and a bigger sin to __________.” (“Pee in the house,” or “sniff a butt,” or “have sex with” (which doesn’t even make sense, Constance Zimmer)). The contestant and the six celebrities fill in the blank simultaneously, and if the contestant’s guess matches a celebrity’s guess, he or she gets a point.

In the season premiere, the celebrities were Jason Alexander, Sheryl Underwood, Gabriel Iglesias, Constance Zimmer, Michael Che, and Bridget Everett. The game itself is not only dumb, but impossible, because five of the six celebrities try to come up with funny, creative ways to fill in the blank, which means five different answers, which means even if the contestant is on the same wavelength as a professional comedian, he or she is probably only going to get one point. Fortunately, there’s also Jason Alexander, who typically just gives the obvious answer, thus allowing the contestants who provide an obvious answer the ability to match at least one person. Thanks for being the boring one, Jason.

There’s some patter. The celebrities pal around. Alec Baldwin makes jokes, except when it comes to Constance Zimmer, whom he flatters. This goes on for two rounds, and then the winning contestant gets to go to the “super round” for an opportunity to win $25,000 if his or her answer is the same as the celebrity they chose (in both cases, Jason Alexander was chosen, because he’s the only one interested in helping the contestant, while the others are more interested in being entertaining).

The big question at the end is something like, fill in the blank: _________ Perry. I obviously would have said, “Luke,” but I would’ve been wrong, because Alexander said, “Katy,” which is also what the contestant said. In the other matchup it was Grand _________, which means you have about a one in three chance of winning, depending on whether Jason Alexander writes “Prize,” “Slam,” or “Canyon” (he went with “Canyon” and the contestant went with “Slam.”)

That’s it. That’s the game. It’s not even a “game.” It’s an opportunity for celebrities to quip jokes that may or may not be bleeped out. Also, Michael Che calls “balls” a “coin purse,” which is not even the right gender.

This game is dumb. I can’t believe it’s been on for four seasons. I also can’t believe how relaxed and charming Baldwin is in it, which made me dislike it even more, because this game is not actually about the “game.” It’s about the banter and interplay between Baldwin and the celebrities, and he’s really good at it, and that made me mad, because I prefer not to appreciate Baldwin. But there you go. The game is bad, the host is great, and because the game doesn’t actually matter, Match Game inexplicably works, which really does make it the Whammy of the bunch, because everyone knows that the only good thing about Press Your Luck is the Whammy. Damnit.

And this concludes Game Show Week.

Header Image Source: ABC