Wednesday, November 11, 2009


In 2002 a new syndie version of the venerable Pyramid franchise appeared, with Donny Osmond as host. For whatever reason this version has attracted a lot of venom from classic game show fans, though it was far from a critical or commercial failure. In fact, I think the show offered at least one significant improvement on the old Dick Clark versions: a faster time limit. Donnymid cut the limit down to twenty seconds for six clues, which helped eliminate the numbingly routine perfect rounds that often plagued previous versions.

The one very questionable element of the new show was the sneak peek at the Winner's Circle categories given to the celebs. The peek was disclosed, barely, so it didn't brush against the anti-rigging law. But it still smelled of prearrangement. In the second season the show wisely got rid of it.

The show did ratings that would virtually guarantee its renewal nowadays. Even in 2004, when the show was cancelled, many wondered why show-owner Sony would pull it. Turns out Sony wanted to push a syndie talk show instead, which got no audience and was quickly axed.

Donny Osmond proved witty and competent as the host, and even copped a daytime Emmy nomination. The celeb contestants were generally more than capable - many had played on previous Pyramid versions - and the standard of play was usually quite high. Exactly why the version attracts so much emnity from classics fans is hard to fathom. Some complain about the show's judging, but Pyramid has always been devilishly hard to judge and disputes about split-second calls date back to its earliest days.

The classics freaks probably figure that no Pyramid without Clark is worthy of the name. And Donnymid debuted long after 1990, which makes it automatically suspect.

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