Do You Remember? #84: The Family Feud Challenge

It’s hard to believe that for the longest time in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, daytime game shows were the norm and the three major broadcast networks would have lineups filled with game shows.

At the top of the networks was CBS with The Price Is Right starting in 1972, a tradition of daytime television that still holds up today. Although, in the mid 90s and throughout the 2000s, there was a massive lull in daytime game shows up until CBS revived Let’s Make A Deal to great success.

One of the main reasons why daytime game shows kind of fell flat starting in the early 90s was because too many shows were trying to copy the formula that made The Price Is Right one of the few daytime game shows that still held up in the 90s, even The Price Is Right was trying to outdo itself with The New Price Is Right and that failed mostly because of the OJ Simpson trial.

But one of the biggest misfires of trying to copy Price Is Right’s success came from CBS itself with one of their more successful revivals around the late 80s/early 90s, Family Feud with Ray Combs. In 1992, Family Feud was expanded to an hour and given more of a Price Is Right feel with The Family Feud Challenge:

Family Feud moved to CBS with Combs hosting on July 4, 1988, replacing The $25,000 Pyramid. Like its predecessor, this version also had an accompanying syndicated edition which launched in September of that year. In June 1992, the network version expanded from its original half-hour format to a full hour, and was retitled The Family Feud Challenge; this new format featured three families per episode, which included two new families competing in the first half-hour for the right to play the returning champions in the second half. The Family Feud Challenge aired its final new episode on March 26, 1993, with reruns airing until September 10. The syndicated Feud, meanwhile, remained in production and entered its sixth season in the fall of 1993.

However, the ratings picture was not particularly good for the syndicated edition. For much of its run to this point, the syndicated Feud had to deal with stations dropping the series or moving it to undesirable time slots such as overnights. By 1992, the ratings had hit a low point and by the time the sixth season premiered, distributor All American Television was threatening to cancel the series unless ratings improved and changes were made. The responsibility for this fell on Jonathan Goodson, who had taken over his father’s company when Mark Goodson passed away in 1992.

So, what changed with The Family Feud Challenge? The Family Feud Challenge was a revamped version of the popular game show Family Feud. Hosted by Ray Combs, the show differed from its predecessor in numerous ways.

First, the show was expanded to an hour. In the first thirty minutes, two new families would compete against each other for the chance to face the returning champion family from the previous episode. After the teams were introduced, the show progressed into an all-new “Bullseye” round. In the Bullseye round, the aim was to get the #1 answer (the “Bullseye answer”) to a survey question. Starting with the team captain, each member of the family went to the faceoff podium to answer their question. 5 questions were asked; one at a time. Whoever gave the #1 answer first won the dollar value of the question, which was then placed into their family’s “bank” (seen on the family podiums). In the first half, each family would be started off with $2,500 in their banks, and the dollar values were $500/$1,000/$1,500/$2,000/$2,500, making the maximum amount $10,000. In the second half, the families were started off with $5,000 and the dollar values were $1,000/$2,000/$3,000/$4,000/$5,000, making the maximum amount $20,000.

After the Bullseye round, the game played as usual, with people trying to name all of the answers to a survey question. The first question had single-value points, the second had double-value points, and any others had triple-value points. Whoever got 300 points won the game and played Fast Money for their Bullseye bank.

The show premiered on CBS Daytime on June 19, 1992 and ran for one season until mid-1993.

Well, I can tell you one of the reasons why this show failed and it’s like I said, they tried to turn Family Feud into a Price is Right clone right down to having the contestants literally acting insane like the contestants on Price Is Right. Check out the family on the left:

Notice how erratic and over the top they are? And that’s just part one, if you thought that family was over the top, check out the second half of the episode and pay close attention to the family on the right:

I mean, my god, try to pick out a moment where Georgie is not moving around like a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man, either she was drunk or she thought she was going to be on Price Is Right because my god, there’s no rhyme or reason why she’s moving that way. It’s like Ray Combs said, “this ain’t The Price Is Right.”

But you see what I mean, they were trying to throw in elements to make this in tune with The Price Is Right and it just didn’t feel in tune with the format of Family Feud. They made it even more confusing with the pilot of Family Feud Challenge, the Bullseye round was made more difficult:

I mean, the late 80s Family Feud was more faster paced but they kept the overall flair of the original game show in the syndication and CBS versions but this, this almost killed Family Feud in its’ second revival phase. It was one of the first signs of the end of Family Feud in this run and while having Richard Dawson back in the final season was the final nail in the coffin, that was mostly because that season occurred during the OJ Simpson trial and that was more why the series ended but you get the idea, The Family Feud Challenge was the first part of the final years of the Ray Combs era.

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