1. Tattletales (1974-78, 1982-84)
With all the celebrity marriages and divorces these days, it's well past time to bring back Tattletales, the Newlywed Game-style show for semi-celebs, who tried to guess how their "mates or dates" would answer questions about their lives and about the issues of the day. All this on a fabulously futuristic set that put the significant others on tiny TV sets mounted on the contestant podiums. The best part about Tattletales was the way it made everybody on TV seem like part of a big social club, having dinner parties and barbecues together and getting to know each other's families. Does that still happen now? Do Britney and Kevin ever hang around with Brad and Angelina? Could Brad and Angelina answer questions about each other?
2. Win, Lose Or Draw (1987-90)
The last gasp of the '70s "celebrities as best pals" genre was Win, Lose Or Draw, created—honest to goodness—by Burt Reynolds, who hosted a weekly game in his living room. (The Win, Lose Or Draw set? A replica of that living room.) Like a lot of American game shows, this charades-with-magic-markers concept carries on in foreign territories, but it would be nice to bring it back home again, and see who can get, say, Jason Bateman to say "car hop" by drawing a four wheels and a bunny. What's Burt Reynolds doing these days, anyway?
3. The Match Game (1962-69, 1973-82, 1990-91, 1998-99)
People forget that the '70s version of The Match Game was itself a revival of a fairly tame '60s game show that had celebrities and regular folk trying to match answers to open-ended questions. The smutty double-entendres didn't kick in until The Me Decade, and every incarnation since has gone overboard trying to recapture the magic of Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Richard Dawson, all of whom could say "make whoopee" or "boobs" with a certain casual sophistication. To bring The Match Game back, you'd have to bring that tone back. Oh, and also bring back that long, skinny microphone, designed and patented by host Gene Rayburn.
4. To Tell The Truth (1956-78, 1980-81, 1990-91, 2000-02)
It's never been as good as it was in the days of Peggy Cass and Kitty Carlisle, but To Tell The Truth keeps getting revived every decade or so because the format is so strong. A celebrity panel asks three civilians questions about their lives and jobs, in order to figure out which two are impostors; at the end, the real guy or gal stands up, after a few pretending-to-stand-and-then-sitting-back-down fakeouts. It's one of the best games to play along with at home, since the camera picks up every insincere gesture and stray bead of sweat. "He says he's a radio call-in host? Impossible!"
5. The Joker's Wild (1972-75, 1977-86, 1990-91)
It's hard to believe that no one's taken another crack at this slot-machine-themed quiz show, which in its original incarnation revived the career of producer/host Jack Barry (previously stained in the Twenty-One scandal). Contestants pull a handle, pick one of the categories that comes up, and answer a ridiculously simple question, all on a set with wall-to-wall shag carpeting. So homey. And wouldn't school have been more fun if exams were held Joker's Wild-style? "Joker! Joker! Renaissance literature."
6. Tic Tac Dough (1956-59, 1978-86, 1990-91)
The first run of Tic Tac Dough came to an end when TV cleaned house of all its quiz shows in the wake of congressional hearings about their legitimacy. When the show came back in the '70s, it was remade as one of those endearing post-Joker's Wild syndicated game shows with low-tech production values and super-easy questions. Oh, and Wink Martindale, dripping with the unctuousness that makes him arguably the prototypical game-show host.
7. Concentration (1958-78, 1987-91)
Concentration weathered the quiz-show scandals because it was primarily a game, with just a little bit of puzzle. Contestants turned over cards in pairs, looking for matches, and when they matched, the cards went away, revealing a piece of a rebus. Solve the rebus, win the game. This show was (picture of a grate).
8. Sale Of The Century (1969-74, 1983-89)
The question-and-answer main game on Sale Of The Century wasn't all that exciting, and the buy-prizes-at-low-prices concept only proved—as the early version of Wheel Of Fortune did—that watching people shop doesn't make for great television. But $OTC had the best speed round in game-show history, with rapid-fire questions and quickly changing fortunes. So much about the show was wrong, but when it came to the speed round, to quote '80s host Jim Perry, "That's right!"
9. Whew! (1979-80)
The late '70s were the heyday of the "gimmick game," like The Money Maze or The Magnificent Marble Machine, which both had borderline idiotic rules, all designed to get the contestants into the thick of some crazy, set-sized contraption. The legacy of this era endures in some of The Price Is Right's more outlandish pricing games, and in the memories of shows like Whew!, which combined a complicated main game with a slick bonus round, needlessly (but entertainingly) enlivened by a series of gates manned by the "gauntlet of villains." Does it take this much hardware to sling around some trivia?
10. High Rollers (1974-76, 1978-80, 1987-88)
In its original incarnation, High Rollers made a star of its young Canadian host Alex Trebek, who was much more high-spirited and quippy than he would become a decade later on Jeopardy. But the game was the real star, because of its ingenious blend of luck and strategy, which had contestants answering quick questions, rolling oversized dice, then calculating how many numbers to knock off the big board. From the nifty overhead camera shots to the enormous, brightly lit numbers (in a Gay '90s font, for some reason), High Rollers brought the fake excitement of Vegas to wood-paneled dens across America.
11. Scrabble (1984-90, 1993)
Chuck Woolery has worked steadily in game shows since the original incarnation of Wheel Of Fortune, but as good as his current Lingo is, it can't beat Scrabble, which re-imagined the crossword board game as an actual crossword, complete with punny clues. Woolery was the sort of host who would play along in his head, often muttering, "Oh, I know what this is," and forcing some fool contestant to blunder into a bad guess. Mean, but entertaining.
12. Second Chance (1977)
Granted, Second Chance only lasted four months, and was effectively revived six years later as Press Your Luck (which has itself been fairly recently revived). But the pre-"big board" portion of Second Chance was more egalitarian than Press Your Luck's buzz-in round. And "devils" are better than "whammys." That's not an opinion, that's an objective fact.
13. Hot Potato (1984)
Ostensibly Family Feud without the family, the short-lived Hot Potato asked two teams of three people (all with something in common, like the same job) to list as many answers as possible on different "Top 10" popularity surveys. When contestants missed, they were eliminated. When all three members of the team were out, the other team won. And when all was said and done, the viewers knew exactly which spices were most often used by a random sampling of 100 people. One stipulation for the revival: the producers must reanimate the surely still-charming corpse of Bill Cullen, and make him the host.
14. Go (1983-84)
Go built on the clue-and-guess format of Password and Pyramid, adding the wrinkle that each answer had two clue-givers, who were only allowed to say one word at a time, in alternating order. But it wasn't always easy for the two clue-givers to get in sync, which meant that they headed down long, winding inquisitive paths, with hilariously mounting frustration.
15. Password (1961-67, 1971-75, 1979-82, 1984-89)
The only problem with Password is that it wasn't much of a play-along-at-home kind of show, since the answers were put right up on the screen. But it was still fun to watch celebrities try to figure out the right clues to give to contestants, and to watch smooth, agreeable Alan Ludden (husband to Password regular Betty White) keep the game moving along. Ludden stayed at the helm right up to his death from cancer, at which point his friends Bill Cullen, Tom Kennedy, and Bert Convy all stepped up to the podium. Two of those guest hosts—Cullen and Convy—also died in the '80s while still in their game-show-hosting prime, marking the end of the genre's golden age. Here's a little generational test: If you can hear Password's filler music and see its "how you can get tickets" graphic without feeling a little tug at your heart, then you were born in the wrong time.