Saturday, March 12, 2016

Remembering Burt

A number of stories about an NBC pilot called Crunch Time have recently turned up in Google News. Starring Craig Ferguson, the wannabe series cuts between a real game show and a scripted workplace comedy.

As a faux tweet points out, this format should sound familiar to those who recall the long ago days of GSN. In 1999 the still new and struggling network tried Burt Luddin's Love Buffet. The U.S. Game Shows Wiki sums up the concept in not exactly the best prose. "Burt Luddin's Love Buffet is a short-lived relationship-styled game show that was similar in the style of The Newlywed Game mixed with a sitcom wherein three married couples competed for prizes."

The wiki also classes the show under the category "Flops," which is harsh but true. In fact, the show often appears on lists of the worst programs in GSN history. John Cervenka starred as host Burt Luddin, and there were a half-dozen or so other actors in the scripted dramedy that surrounded the real game show within a show.

Casting Craig Ferguson as the fictional game show host in this new pilot is a little strange. He's hardly an unknown figure, and many viewers have likely seen him as the real host of Celebrity Name Game. I understand why NBC is interested in his strong improv abilities, but his role in this pilot sounds a little too coy and meta for me. We'll see if the pilot leads to anything.

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