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Top 10 Weirdest TV Game Shows

VOICE OVER: AS WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Well, that was odd. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Weirdest TV Game Shows.

For this list, we'll be looking at the strangest game shows and television specials that were produced and released within the United States. That means no Japanese game shows though! We'll be ranking our choices based on the degree of weirdness and how much of a spectacular fail the show ended up being.

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Transcript
Well, that was odd. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Weirdest TV Game Shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the strangest game shows and television specials that were produced and released within the United States. That means no Japanese game shows though! We’ll be ranking our choices based on the degree of weirdness and how much of a spectacular fail the show ended up being.

#10: “The Gong Show” (1976-80; 1988-89; 2017-)

“The Gong Show” may have been a bit of an oddball, but people loved it just the same. The show served as a primitive “America’s Got Talent” of sorts, as it focused on often-terrible performers trying to entertain a panel of celebrity judges. Should a judge deem the performance lame, they struck a gong, signaling that the performer was out. Should the performer actually be good, they were ranked on a scale of 0-10. The winner was given $516.32 ($716.32 in the syndicated version) while a little person ran across the stage throwing confetti.

#9: “Candy Crush” (2017)

Yes, this is a game show version of the mobile game Candy Crush Saga. And yes, it is every bit as painful as that sounds. Contestants must first go through the qualifying round, which includes picking jelly squares from the board while strapped to a candy cane as well as running through licorice mazes. They then go to the King-Sized Challenges, which are basically just playing Candy Crush in wacky scenarios and positions. Finally, they compete in the Ultimate Candy Clash, which sees players attempting to make 50 matches while suspended in the air. It’s all very embarrassing stuff, and the novelty wears off pretty quickly.

#8: “Hurl!” (2008)

We mean… it’s a game show called “Hurl!” Are you expecting top-class entertainment? “Hurl!” aired on G4 for eleven episodes between July and September 2008. Yeah, it was a bit of a failure. The game entails players eating large amounts of food (with choices like clam chowder and cream of spinach soup appearing in episodes) and then taking part in a strenuous physical activity. The latter is meant to nauseate the players and make them barf. The last person to barf (or to not barf at all) wins. That’s it. Do you now see why it only aired for eleven episodes? Turns out that watching others puke is not exactly a good time.

#7: “Whew!” (1979-80)

“Whew!” aired on CBS for a year. Better than “Hurl!,” but still a spectacular fail nonetheless. “Whew!” starts well enough. Contestants needed to correct factual mistakes by providing the right answer – kind of a fill-in-the-blank “Jeopardy!” But then they get to the Gauntlet of Villains, and all Hell breaks loose. This was a path lined with 10 wooden “villains”, each with an arm raised. The player needed to lower their arms by correcting bloopers, which allowed them to run to the finish. Some of the bizarre characters included Count Nibbleneck and Nero the Fiddler. Yes, a fiddler. Perhaps they should have just stuck with fill-in-the-blank “Jeopardy!”

#6: “Man vs. Beast” (2003-04)

Remember how disappointed we all were when we discovered that Michael Phelps wasn’t actually racing a live shark? Well, fear not. “Man vs. Beast” has you covered. “Man vs. Beast” was a series of television specials that aired in 2003 and 2004, which depicted various matches of humans vs. animals. For example, one man was in a hot dog eating contest with a Kodiak bear, another foot-raced a giraffe and a zebra, and yet another saw various dwarves competing with an elephant in a jet-pulling contest. As you can imagine, some viewers were outraged, particularly animal rights activists, and the show quickly faded into obscurity.

#5: “Repo Games” (2011-12)

We don’t know whose idea it was to make a trivia game out of repossessing cars, but give that person a medal, because this is some prime entertainment. The show follows real repo men Josh Lewis and Tom DeTone as they go around to various houses and repossess cars. The game element comes in the form of trivia – the people whose cars may be repossessed are given a chance to have their debt wiped if they answer three trivia questions correctly. We are then treated to irate people failing to answer general-knowledge questions on their front lawn while watching their cars being towed away. Bizarre and tasteless? Sure. Entertaining? Hell yeah.

#4: “The Magnificent Marble Machine” (1975-76)

We mean, just listen to that title. It sounds like a late-era Beatles album or something, and it is every bit as weird as one! In the first part of the game, players needed to guess an answer via a scrawling clue and blanks detailing the number of letters in the answer. The winning team was then taken to a gigantic 20-foot-high, 12-foot-long pinball machine, AKA the Magnificent Marble Machine. And then they basically just… played pinball. We guess the novelty of seeing a giant pinball machine is fun and all, but it gets really old really fast. But hey, they needed to cash-in on the 70s pinball craze somehow!

#3: “You Don’t Know Jack” (2001)

You may know Jack from the video games, but did you know that it became a TV show as well? Yep, from June 20 to July 18, 2001, “You Don’t Know Jack” was a game show that aired on ABC, and Pee-wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens, was the host. The show added a few new twists to the proceedings, like The $2,000,000 Question in Round 2, which saw Reubens as Troy Stevens trying to read a clue while being distracted in humorous ways. But, for the most part, the show followed the video game, including rounds of DisOrDat and Jack Attack. It was every bit as peculiar as the video game, for good and bad.

#2: “The $1.98 Beauty Show” (1978-80)

This series aired in syndication at the end of the 1970s and served as a parody of beauty contests. Six female contestants were “judged” by three celebrity panelists, with the show taking the form of a beauty contest, including a talent portion and a swimsuit competition (wherein the host simply cracked jokes the entire time). At the end of the day, the winner is given a cheap crown, rotten vegetables, and a cash prize of $1.98. There isn’t really a point to this show – the winners were pre-determined, and it was just a lame way to make fun of beauty pageants. Yawn.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“College Mad House” (1989)

"Baggage” (2010-15)

“Treasure Hunt” [aka “The New Treasure Hunt”] (1956-59; 1973-77; 1981-82)

#1: “Three’s a Crowd” (1979-80; 1999-2000)

“Three’s a Crowd” was created by Chuck Barris, the man behind “The $1.98 Beauty Show” and who hosted “The Gong Show,” and it is arguably his masterpiece. It has what is probably the most baffling concept of all time - a team consisting of a husband, a wife, and his secretary, and both the wife and secretary had to answer personal questions about the man to see who knew him better. The response was one of immediate hatred, with many claiming that it promoted and harnessed adultery for entertainment, and it bombed so hard that it brought Barris’ other shows down with it. It was a huge failure, and it all but ruined Barris’ career and reputation.
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