This is a look at all of the pilots that were made for 'Match Game', from most recent to least recent. A television pilot is a tryout episode of a television show. The pilot of a TV show usually does not air on television. All of the pilots below are featured with their titles at the top.
2004- "WHAT THE BLANK" (Fred Willard)
In 2004, Variety entertainment magazine reported that Frantlemedia and Mark Goodson Productions filmed a pilot on Saturday, May 8, 2004 entitled, What the Blank? with comedian Fred Willard, who has never appeared on any previous version of MG, as emcee. Randy West, an admirer of ex-MG announcer Johnny Olson, was pitched as the show's announcer. According to Variety, the show was a 21st century-esque remake of a classic game show. Naturally, that "classic game show" was Match Game. The only mentioned revision to the 70s show was that in What the Blank, ordinary men and women from the streets would also participate in matching answers with celebrities and contestants. According to announcer West, the Willard-hosted pilot was "faithful" in its attempt to renew what was once an enormously popular yukfest hosted by antics master Gene Rayburn. The FOX network picked up the pilot and agreed to give the show a nighttime time slot, around 8 or 9pm, in the summertime. Producers soon went contestant-hunting, seeking players within the youthful ages of 21 and 30.
--DEAL OR NO DEAL?: No deal. Eventually, network execs cancelled all plans to bring What the Blank to FOX's primetime schedule, for some strange reason.
1998- "MATCH GAME" (Michael Burger)
A "Match Game" pilot was filmed with Michael Burger as host and was sold and agreed to air in syndication. That's all that is known about this pilot.
1996- "MATCH GAME 2" (Charlene Tilton)
In 1997, All-American Productions and Mark Goodson Productions cooperated with Tribune Entertainment to develop an effort to bring back "Match Game." A pilot, under the name Match Game 2, was filmed at KTLA Studios in Los Angeles with former sex symbol and retired sitcom star Charlene Titlon hosting. Apparently, the production corporations made several bad choices with this pilot. First of all, game show insiders can tell you that this pilot was apparently a wretched, disgraceful, disastorous revival and that fell short of even trying to resemble the original version. Rather than the contestants responding orally to questions, they had to write down answers and celebrities had to give them verbally, which is a tota slap in the face to the classic rules of the Match Game. The "A" and "B" format was also changed into comically entitled categories and the celebrity panel was only consisted of five celebs. The celebrity panel was full of D-list/F-list stars that had no dialouge with the host and contestants and added no zest to the show whatsoever: Downtown Julie Brown, David Chokachi, Gil Gerard, Rondell Sheridan, and Kathleen ?. Second of all, the title was strange, in that "Match Game 2" sounds as if the pilot is a sequel to a motion picture. Third of all, the Super Match was absolutely bizarre. A very unnecessary feature named "Panel Poll" was added and the Head-to-Head Match was scrapped out. In the panel poll, each panelist is given three adjectives and they must each select one that they believe best fits their personality, then the contestant must assume which celebrities picked what adjectives with 100 dollars per match. In the Audience Match, if the third most popular response was matched the amount won in the Panel Poll would be doubled, second most popular=Panel Poll amount x4, most popular=Panel Poll amount x5. There was no head-to-head. This was indeed awkward and shameful. Last of all, Charlene Tilton was the worst selection for a host that one could ever conceive of. Titlon had appeared numerous times during the 1979-82 syndicated run of Match Game, yet she never had any previous experience at all in hosting a game show, much like Jon "Bowzer" Bauman (who co-emceed The Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour). Tilton's stab at Match Game 2 was by all standards, a complete failure and even she concedes it. The tape of the pilot has been trashed as we know it (thankfully.)
--DEAL OR NO DEAL: No Deal. You think they would buy this? However, syndication gurus asked the producers to film another pilot with a much better set-up and report back to them. That pilot is above this one.
1989: "THE ALL NEW, STAR-STUDDED MATCH GAME" (Bert Convy)
By 1989, Mark Goodson was positive he had composed the formula that he desired for a revival of "Match Game." There was a 70s-esque format with Charles Nelson Reilly, once again, on the panel and former "Match Game" semi-regular panelist Bert Convy wisely chosen as host after his Super Password was cancelled earlier that year. Several pilots were actually made in the summer of 1989 with Convy emceeing and the host seemed comfortable with the position and everything seemed to be going splendidly. The gameplay was by all means the same as it was on "Match Game 90", except for that in the Audience Match, the amounts were 500 dollars, 250 dollars and 100 dollars like in the 70s. Also, the methods used in the opening sequence are more similar to the CBS incarnation. The panel for all these pilots was: Brad Garrett, Marsha Walfield, Charles Nelson Reilly, Khrystyne Haje, Jerry Van Dyke, and Teri Copley. A hilarious clip from one of the Convy pilots did air on VH1's Game Show Moments Gone Bananas special in 2005. Obviously, this means that this particular pilot is available for viewing via the tape-trading business.
---DEAL OR NO DEAL: Deal. ABC sold the pilots and decided to make a "Match Game" revival. Yet, with the deal came some bad news. Convy was diagnosed with brain tumor (in April 1990) shortly after the pilots were filmed and was obviously not fit to host. Mark Goodson wished Convy luck in his struggle against cancer (Convy eventually died in July 1991) and the "Match Game" creator was no forced to find a new host. Gene Rayburn's name was brought up at one point, yet the former host was a whooping 72 years old at the time and was already hosting The Movie Masters on AMC. In the end, Goodson discovered Ross Shafer, a young man who just replaced Joan Rivers on her late-night talk show. Shafer was confirmed as host and the gameplay was not changed from what we know and everything was ready as "Match Game 90"--a fan-given title--premiered in July 1990 on ABC at 12 noon.
1973: "THE 1973 EDITION OF MATCH GAME" (Gene Rayburn)
On Saturday, May 19, 1973, a pilot entitled "The 1973 Edition of Match Game", Goodson-Todman Productions were hoping to get the year into the title anyway that they could, was filmed at CBS Television City: Studio 33 in Hollywood, California. Bert Convy, Arlene Francis, Jack Klugman, Joann Pflug, Richard Dawson, and Betty White were the panelists who sat on the panel for the pilot. Two contestants must match as many of the six celebrities as possible to MODIFIED fill-in-the-blank questions. Many of the questions used in the pilot--and in the first two weeks of "Match Game '73"---were not humorous at all and frankly, dull and boring. These types of questions were used during the original NBC seven-year run of "The Match Game." However, in the third week of episodes of "Match Game '73", humorous fill-ins became a commodity and they were naturally, used throughout the remainder of the show's CBS run, which is what made it so popular. Back to the pilot rules. An example of a main game question in the pilot would be, "Tom did not like _____ books." After two rounds, the contestant moved on to the Jackpot Match, later known as the "Super Match", where they could win up to 5,000 dollars. First is the Audience Match and then the head-to-head match and if you read, "What the Blank" page you will know how they are played. Compared to the CBS series itself, the only differences with the pilot were: some different set colors, design of the contestant podiums and question machine, panel seating order, the end game was the "Jackpot Match" rather than the "Super Match", and the title was different: "The 1973 Edition of Match Game" rather than "Match Game '73". The pilot can be seen today if you tape trade with an online game show expert, who will be more than happy to allow you to borrow the tape.
--DEAL OR NO DEAL: Deal. CBS agreed to make the pilot into a regularly appearing game show on their daytime schedule. Between the time the pilot was filmed and the series began, changes were made: the Jackpot Match became the "Super-Match", the title became "Match Game '73", a few set changes were made, and then everything was ready to go. The show premiered 7/2/1973 at 3:30pmeastern/2:30pmcentral on CBS. The rest is history.
IF YOU SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN AND CLICK ON THE VIDEO PICTURE AT THE BOTTOM, YOU CAN WATCH THE ENTIRE MAIN GAME OF THE 1973 PILOT!!!
1962: "THE MATCH GAME" (Gene Rayburn)
If you read the "What the Blank" page, you'll find out that from 1962 to 1969, "The Match Game" aired on NBC's daytime schedule with Gene Rayburn as host. However, the rules differed much from the 70s version, with NO funny fill-in-the-blank questions or six celebrities or joking around that much. In fact, it was a very average silent game in large part. In the pilot that was filmed a few months before hand, and is actually existent today, there were few differences. Teams of one celebrity, Peggy Cass and Peter Lind Hayes appeared in the pilot, and two contestnats attempt to match each other's (within the team) answers to simplified questions like, "Name a book written by Jules Verne." If two teamsters matched, 10 points were given away to the team. If all matched, a total of 25 points were granted to that particular team. In order to acheive victory, a team must have at least 50 points in their bank. In the regular NBC series, the point values were altered to be dollar values (10 dollars, 25 dollars, 50 dollars.) The winning team played the Audience Match, similar to the 70s Audience-Match, which was performed almost the very same way it was in the NBC series. Each match however was merely 25 dollars per team member compared to the 50 dollars received on the regular series.
--DEAL OR NO DEAL: Deal. Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions managed to sell it to the NBC schedule and it premiered on New Year's Eve, 1962. If the answer was "no deal", this site would not be running today.