Category Archives: Match Games

Bruce Vilanch: Secret 24th Member of the USMNT?

As I mentioned yesterday, I fell hard for this year’s World Cup, watching more soccer than I ever imagined I could, transfixed by matches like Ivory Coast vs. Greece, arranging my schedule around France vs. Switzerland. But even though I watched the majority of knockout games and an entirely unnecessary amount of group games, regardless of the matchup, it was the U.S. Men’s National Team that really stole my heart and refused to let go (despite only winning one of four games, and losing their last two. But we won’t focus on that). I didn’t know much about the team before the tournament, other than that Landon Donovan was not on the team and Tim Howard is really, really good and Clint Dempsey is not Clint Mathis. But by the time the USMNT rolled into Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova to take on Belgium we could roll off the names Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman and DeAndre Yedlin like we had been following the club for years. In a truly abbreviated amount of time the USMNT became our team the way that the New York Rangers are our team, and as we lived and died with the Broadway Blueshirts into the Stanley Cup Final, we felt similarly about the USA squad. And even though the dream only lasted a couple of weeks, our bond was deep, if only so brief.

But a few days ago we stumbled upon Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil, an ESPN Films series covering the journey of the USA team from the World Cup qualifiers to their departure for Brasil, and all the roster changes and training sessions and Jürgen Klinsmannisms in between. And since beginning the series I’ve been obsessed. It’s just like in 6th Grade when everyone fell in love with Green Day’s Dookie (or so they professed) and wrote the band’s name on their backpacks with Wite-Out and then discovered their early stuff like 39/Smooth and Kerplunk (except in my case it would have been Billy Joel and collecting all of his albums that predate his Greatest Hits Volume 1 & Volume 2). March to Brazil is the USMNT’s early stuff, and I’m really digging it. Sure, they’re raw and unrefined, and there will be some personnel changes before they settle on the definitive lineup, but the soul is there.

But as much as I’ve enjoyed this series, learning the background of these players that I cheered so hard for just two weeks ago, there was something else that I found absolutely stunning: Bruce Vilanch was a member of the USMNT.

Well, maybe not exactly, but he definitely makes an appearance in Part 2, evidently having traveled on the same flight as Defender Omar Gonzalez. Take a look:

 

Did you catch him? Look again:

Bruce Vilanch Omar Gonzalez USMNT

 

Let’s go in for a closer look:

Vilanch-CloseUp

 

Well, if the one size too small graphic t-shirt and red glasses don’t give it away, then the blond Fry Guy hair sure does. I mean, it can’t be, but it’s gotta be:

Bruce Vilanch

Now, as I said, I’ve watched a Bruce Vilanch-worth of USA soccer and haven’t seen the writer-comedian anywhere else, but is it possible that the Off-Center Square was Jürgen Klinsmann’s secret weapon? Did Klinsmann do what Whoopi and Billy have done before him and Get Bruce? Did Vilanch keep Michael Bradley at ease with his playful, suggestive puns? Did he help immerse Jermaine Jones and Julian Green in American culture? Did he trade hair secrets with Graham Zusi and Mix Diskerud? Or maybe, just maybe, he was making a surprise cameo in Kyle Beckerman’s engagement photos? Whatever the reason, Vilanch needs to be on the roster for 2018.

We’ll never be able to beat the Germans by playing their game. We need to create our own American style, embrace what makes our country unique. Maybe, just maybe, Bruce Vilanch is the key.

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Filed under Freak Out Control, Huh?, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Match Games, Matt Christopher Books, Monster Mash, What? Too fabulous?

Parting Shot: Say Cheese

Colby JeopardyDo you smell what the Colby is cooking? 

 

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Filed under Brilliance, Match Games, Parting Shot

I’ll Take Condiments for $800: French Stewart Returns to Jeopardy

A little over thirteen years after his first memorable appearance, 3rd Rock from the Sun star French Stewart made an unexpected return to Jeopardy this week, under the obvious pseudonym Barry Peterson. Unfortunately, even though he’s learned to open his eyes, he once again failed in his promise to bloom in Double Jeopardy.

(or is it Jimmy Fallon, pulling of a brilliant piece of performance art?)

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Who is Chelsea Handler?

Normally, on Jeopardy “Who is Chelsea Handler?” would be the answer to a clue. But on this particular edition of the long-running nerdfest, this interrogative statement was very much a question, something that all the contestants were asking themselves.

Take that, Handler!

And let’s discuss why those responses are so terribly wrong.

1. Margaret Cho: Really? Nowhere in that clue do they ask who plays Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock.

2. Joan Rivers: Yes, she’s on E! and she’s a comedian and best-selling author, so Donna Veronica was close. So close in fact that the judges later considered Rivers to be an acceptable answer and awarded her the money. However, Joan Rivers is not an acceptable response (and we will not budge on this) because a) Fashion Police does not air late-night, b) it is not a talk show, and, most importantly, c) the right response is Chelsea Handler.

3. Ellen DeGeneres. No. Just wrong. You’ve embarrassed yourself, Dan. For so many reasons.

But who knew that Trebek was such a Handler fan? We guess we know what he was doing during his heart attack recovery Jeopardy’s summer hiatus.

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In Memoriam: Richard Dawson

Many of you know Richard Dawson as the original host of Family Feud, others know him as the original host of Family Feud who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores, others know him as the original host of Family Feud who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores who died this past weekend, and still others know him as the villain in Running Man who spoofed his image as original Family Feud host who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores who died this past weekend.  But, for us, we remember Dawson best for his prior work that helped birth Family Feud, his years next to (or below) Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers on Match Game.  Along with host Gene Rayburn, those three formed the nucleus of Match Game throughout the 70s, gleefully dabbling in double entendre, sipping a drink or two before (and sometimes during) tapings, and walking the tight rope of what censors would allow on daytime TV in 1975.

We vaguely remember seeing Match Game as a young child, far too young to really understand the game and the dated references, let alone the suggestive material, and we certainly had no concept of who the panelists were.  But our personal connection to Match Game came later in the mid-2000s when it was in constant reruns on GSN (né The Game Show Network).  At this time our father had undergone a silly surgery that involved part of his leg being refashioned into his jaw.  While he spent an extended period of time in the hospital recuperating and learning how to be a bionic man, we spent an extended period of time watching reruns of The Match Game, which seemed to run on two-hour blocks, one after another after another.  It’s weird to say – perhaps even somewhat morbid – but Match Game reminds of us good times spent with our family in a cold, sterile hospital room, munching on the spongy bread rolls my dad stowed away in the drawers that became his for two weeks.  So to see Richard Dawson go is to see a friend go, someone who helped get our family through a  particularly difficult time.

But even without Match Game‘s role as family therapy, we still would have a special affection for the show, because it revealed to us, for the first time, that people in the 70s (“old people”) could be funny.  That TV could be loose, freewheeling, dangerous.  There’s a lot that Dawson, Reilly, Somers, Betty White, Fannie Flagg, et al, got away with then that they probably couldn’t today (except for Betty White, since she’s been certified as a national treasure and the rule has been firmly established that the dirtier an older person is the funnier he or she is.  Direct correlation).  Yes, we all remember the gaffes on shows like The Newlywed Game, but those were more the exception than the rule.  Match Game was a party, a kegger, and we were invited.

And if Gene Rayburn was throwing that party, and Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers were the comedy tag-team trouble makers bringing the beer, then Richard Dawson was the preternaturally cool guy that everyone wanted to talk to.  He oozed charisma, smooth and confident, pulling off a turtle neck and loud blazer combo like no one before and no one after. Reilly and Somers gave the party laughs, Dawson gave it cred; the boys came for the alcohol and the fun, the young, pretty girls came for Dawson.  And, indeed, everyone literally wanted to talk to him, as he became such a popular choice in the final “Super Match” round that for a time contestants were forbidden from  selecting him.  And it was this unique acumen in the final rounds that was partly the inspiration for Family Feud, asking 100 people an inane question and listing the top answers.  Of course, the other, more important, part of the inspiration was Dawson’s immense popularity, so big, in fact, that he had to start his own party.  He may perhaps be the only game show panelist whose performance demanded a spin-off, a celebrity panelist who became a greater celebrity because of it.

So, yes, most people will remember Richard Dawson as the older, maybe even kinda creepy, guy who kissed every woman on Family Feud.  But we’ll remember him as the laid-back, vaguely British guy on Match Game whom every woman wanted to kiss.  And who, along with Reilly, Somers and Rayburn, gave our family a little cheer when we needed it, even if the party ended thirty years prior, the hangovers long since worn off, all four now gone off to that bright game show set in the sky.

One more time, a round of applause for Richard Dawson:

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Filed under In Memoriam, Match Games, Nostalgia Corner

Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day: CNR

This was another lay-up: “charles nelson reilly”

Still waiting for The Life of Reilly to arrive on Netflix.

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In Memorium

I always liked Ken Ober.  I also always liked this show because the contestants got to eat popcorn.

But weren’t late 80s game show prizes the worst?  They just don’t hold up.  A video word processor?  They were so close to a computer!  And between Remote Control and Double Dare I think Casio gave away more keyboards in the 1980s than they actually sold.

Anyway, it’s a shame.  Hope John Sencio‘s doing okay.

(And yet all those insipid wastecases on the Real World-Road Rules Challenge continue to live happy, healthy lives.  And Jesse Camp, I assume)

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Filed under Match Games, TV Killed the Music Video Star