“Match Game” returns to daily TV, but only in [blank] Canada

A classic game show beloved by comedians and comedy fans returns to the TV airwaves five times a week starting tonight.

But Match Game isn’t coming back to America. Try heading north of the border. Oh, Canada!

Sally was so desperate for new episodes of Match Game…”HOW DESPERATE WAS SHE?”…Sally was so desperate for new episodes of Match Game, all she did for the past three decades was BLANK.

That’s how the game works. Two contestants each take a stab at filling in the blanks and hoping that the six comedians/celebrities on the panel match their answers.

The Canadian edition of Match Game debuts tonight, with episodes airing Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern on The Comedy Network. Upward of 60 episodes already taped in Montreal — 12 weeks’ worth of shows — hosted by comedian Darrin Rose.

“It’s fun to be part of such an iconic game show, if only because my dad is finally interested in my career,” said Rose. “He said ‘the new Gene Rayburn, eh? I guess now I can stop telling my friends you’re a real estate agent.’”

Chances are you only know the names Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers, Fannie Flagg and Nipsey Russell from their frequent appearances on Match Game if you’re in your 30s or 40s. And if you’re in your teens and 20s, your only memory of the game show might be the ridiculous modern-day send-ups that the Upright Citizens Brigade improvises each summer during the Del Close Marathon. Well, the real game show debuted in 1962 and became a daytime and primetime hit for CBS in the 1970s under the care of affable host Gene Rayburn. Other, less popular iterations popped up during the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2008, TBS tried to give Americans the game show they craved, filming a new pilot hosted by Andy Daly and featuring a panel with Sarah Silverman, Norm MacDonald, Rashida Jones, Niecy Nash, Super Dave Osborne and Scott Thompson. That effort was executive produced by Robert Smigel. Alas, it never came to fruition.

So. If you’ve got 21 minutes, here is a classic Match Game 76 episode, with a panel of George Kennedy, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lee Meriwether, Richard Dawson and Betty White. Roll it!

For the 2012 Canadian reboot, Sean Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni have been named regular panelists.

Cullen told the Winnipeg Free Press about joining the game show: “I’m not at all like Charles Nelson Reilly, but I liked his playfulness, and I think that’s what I’m trying to get across. It’s a healthy kind of silliness. I mean, I’m not wearing a yacht cap or anything (as Reilly often did), but I realize I’m a character in the show that’s cast as a bunch of people who play games together. So I think I identify with him most.”

American guests on the panel will include Janeane Garofalo, D.L. Hughley, Andy Kindler, Yvette Nicole Brown and Greg Grunberg.

Canadian comedians doing the show that even most Americans would recognize will include Caroline Rhea, Tom Green, Colin Mochrie and Kids in the Hall members Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson.

This week’s debut set of panelists…

Monday 10/15: Yvette Nicole Brown, Debra DiGiovanni, Colin Mochrie, Graham Chittenden, Laura Cilevitz, Seán Cullen
Tuesday 10/16: Greg Grunberg, Debra DiGiovanni, Jeremy Hotz, Elvira Kurt, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Seán Cullen
Wednesday 10/17: Caroline Rhea, Debra DiGiovanni, Ryan Belleville, Fraser Young, Keshia Chante, Seán Cullen
Thursday 10/18: Greg Grunberg, Debra DiGiovanni, Jeremy Hotz, Elvira Kurt, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Seán Cullen
Friday 10/19: Caroline Rhea, Debra DiGiovanni, Scott Thompson, Paul Lemieux, Emily Hampshire, Seán Cullen

And here is the full list of Match Game Canada panelists so far, provided by Bell Media:

Match Game has been licensed around the world by FremantleMedia for international editions.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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