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What the . . . Friday?

May 11, 2012

*Pssst.  In case you didn’t catch me last Friday, What the…Friday? is a new weekly feature I’m offering every Friday (yes, Friday!) in which I will resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Win, Lose or Draw?

What started out as a mission to prove to my husband that Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson were once married (!) — ended up here.  Win, Lose or Draw.

I often mourn the passing of the Golden Age of Game Shows.  But I don’t mourn the loss of this show.

Okay, I loved the show.  I watched it daily.  And I loved to draw.  I was good at drawing.   So Win, Lose or Draw played right to my belief that The (Art) Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.

And then, who didn’t love seeing Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise make-out?

Everybody.

In retrospect, what I see now is a show that I didn’t like after all.  Because it made me uncomfortable.  Tampons falling onto the floor in the middle of a the grocery store checkout lane when you’re grabbing for your checkbook uncomfortable.

Because Win, Lose or Draw followed the same wretched formula of a few other Golden Age game shows, like Super Password and $10,000 Pyramid and Hollywood Squares.  You take some celebrities (I use the term losely) and then you throw in some regular Joes trying to win regular money.  Which always seemed to be insulting to the regular Joes because the celebrities didn’t need to win money.  They were just there for self-promotion  social masturbation  fun.

And then the celebrities had to pretend that they actually gave a hoot about the regular Joes.  And they also had to pretend to be excited about the fact that a regular Joe just won $3,000, which would’ve barely covered a celebrity’s Burbank hotel expense.

Win, Lose or Draw was the worst offender of this Golden Age formula.

Because Win, Lose or Draw actually sandwiched the regular Joes on a dumpy fraternity house couch right in between the celebrities.  And then the celebrities were in manic performance mode and yukking it up with their BFFs.  And inside jokes were made and couch pillows were flung and Betty White pinched Dom DeLuise’s butt and uproarious laughter ensued and all the while I felt so completely awkward watching the regular Joes who just sort of sat there with strained smiles, pretending they were in on it all, but they weren’t really in on it all.  At all.

(Did you notice that Win, Lose or Draw sounds like it contains the word “loser”?  This was intentional.)

So Win, Lose or Draw was sort of like in junior high school when you’d sit at the cool kids’ table for just one day.  Because the cool kids decided it was Be Nice to a (Art) Geek Day and, sure, you could join them for tater tot casserole, but all the while they’d be yukking it up about their boy-girl parties and New Kids on the Block concerts and things you didn’t understand or know about and then you’d smile and laugh uncomfortably like, yeah, I’m in on this too, I’m just one of them.  I don’t have any clue what’s going on here, I don’t know what a “spin the bottle” is but, yeah, I’m certain I’m just one of them.

But who the hell are you kidding?  You weren’t.  And you’d never be.  And Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson can suck it.

What the Friday was I even talking about?

Oh, yes, Win, Lose or Draw.  Loved it.

75 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 6:31 am

    I never saw this, but it looks like such good fun. . . if you’re idea of good fun is to be trampled by a herd of narcissists with giant hair. I think Loni Anderson’s hair is the size of a person.

    Your junior-high analogy is spot on. I could tell that much from the 30-second promo.

    • May 13, 2012 10:32 am

      It is entirely possible that hiding within Loni Anderson’s hair is the Lost Ark, the Holy Grail and Jimmy Hoffa’s body. And we’ll never know.

  2. May 11, 2012 6:36 am

    You just described my entire high school experience! I mean, haha…no I’m kidding, I always got to eat tater tot casserole and yuk it up about NKOTB.

    Also, coffee shot out my nose when you told Loni and Burt to suck it.

    What is spin the bottle anyway?

    • May 11, 2012 6:40 am

      Ok, I just watched the promo and I just want to point out that I, in fact, did have hair about three times bigger than Loni’s. I have proof.

      • May 11, 2012 10:39 am

        I want to see that proof.

      • May 11, 2012 10:46 am

        Figured you would. I am going to dig it out today and post it here on Angie’s blog. Only with her permission of course. Don’t want to drive her followers away….

      • May 13, 2012 10:39 am

        I want to see that proof. Three times bigger! If this was the case, I would be shocked if your hair was not formally accepted as its own US territory.

      • May 13, 2012 10:49 am

        let’s just say more than once an entire family of birds nested in it.

    • May 13, 2012 10:38 am

      See, now I know you’re lying about yukking it up with the cool kids over tater tot casserole and NKOTB. If my memory serves me correctly, instead of NKOTB, a 1984-Darla would’ve been more likely yukking it up about Wham or Van Halen or Menudo when she was in junior high. You’re busted, geek. (Now, the tater tot casserole? Yeah, that was timeless.)

  3. May 11, 2012 7:01 am

    I was just thinking about this show the other day! And the thing is, at the age of six, I actually thought the name of the show was Win Loser Draw. Nice. Do you remember what channel it came on? For some reason I recall it being on The Disney Channel (this is back when they had “real” non kid programming, if you want to call it that) but that seems kind of random. Maybe Michael Eisner owed someone a favor.

    • May 11, 2012 8:09 pm

      I wonder if you’re thinking of “Teen Win, Lose or Draw,” where the teenage TV stars of that time appeared on the show with the teenage average Joes.

      • May 13, 2012 10:52 am

        I missed that teen version! It sounds even more demeaning than the original version.

      • May 13, 2012 12:46 pm

        Here’s an episode I found on YouTube. Soleil Moon Frye and Leonardo DiCaprio are the teen celebrities. And the show’s hosted by Marc Price, AKA Skippy from “Family Ties.”

      • May 13, 2012 3:01 pm

        Did you notice how Skippy motions to Soleil Moon Frye’s (ahem) ample chest when he says, “You’re all grown up now”? And then he adds something like, “I mean, you’re not little Punky Brewster anymore” to obviously cover his ass. Nice one, creepo!

      • May 13, 2012 3:07 pm

        I also heard him mention something in the lines of “Now, you’re big!”

        It’s no wonder as to why she got a breast reduction, dealing with pervs like that!

      • May 13, 2012 3:09 pm

        And then having people strap her chest down so she could play Punky Brewster…I’m sure that did wonders for her self confidence, too!

    • May 13, 2012 10:42 am

      I never saw the Disney Channel version. The version I saw only came on during the afternoons on mainstream TV, possibly right after Hollywood Squares. Which was another celebrity lovefest in the name of “these amazing grand prizes”.

      Michael Eisner — great reference!

  4. May 11, 2012 7:14 am

    I loved that show! And Betty White cracked me up. I had completely forgotten about it until now. I’m pretty sure I watched entirely too much TV as a kid.

    • May 13, 2012 10:44 am

      Betty White is probably the only celebrity I’d give a pass to for being completely obnoxious and appearing on a million of these celebrity contestant game shows. Really, they could’ve given her a game show all of her very own and I would’ve happily watched it.

  5. May 11, 2012 7:27 am

    IS it just me or does this look like the illegitimate child between roman gladiator games and pictonary?

    • May 13, 2012 10:47 am

      Good call! And I even think the board game Pictionary came out before Win, Lose or Draw appeared on TV. If memory serves me correctly, Win, Lose or Draw then came out as a board game following the popularity of the TV show. And we Pictionary players (we played it a lot growing up) cried foul since we’d already been playing something similar at home.

  6. May 11, 2012 7:35 am

    How can anyone forget Loni and Burt’s spectacular divorce? Seems like yesterday, just as much as when me and my best friend went out and had our hair done just like Loni’s. Sadly we also got retianers on our teeth at that time as well, together as we were in everything whether intentional or not. When we stood together and smiled we looked like we’d held hands while one of us stuck a key in an electical socket. Ah, those were the days. We were a table of two needless to say.

    • May 13, 2012 10:50 am

      My husband actually protested the part in this post where I said I was trying to prove to him that those two were married. According to him now, he did know this but did not know they collaborated on a game show together. What. Ever.

      Lori-Ann, you find photos of this hair and retainer look and you will have comedy gold on your hands there. And you better send it to me for use in my Dynomite! series.

      • May 13, 2012 11:23 am

        I don’t think I have one of us being electrocuted together, but I may have one of myself which would be less funny and more sad.

  7. May 11, 2012 8:07 am

    Um, I love you but please don’t insult my beloved Burt Reynolds.

    I loved your apt description of the art geek at the cool kids table for a day. That was exactly me, only it was a pool party and I had no idea how I got there and OH MY GOD how did I forget to shave my pits that day? Mortifying. I had to keep my arms pinned to my sides the whole time.

    • May 11, 2012 8:19 am

      Nicole, will we see this depicted in your blog? I am quite certain many people will identify with mortifying pool party memories. I can only imagine where Angie could take this. I`m not even going to tell my story. It`s staying in the vault. You are obviously fearless.

      • May 11, 2012 8:22 am

        I am a bit afraid to enter the teenage years! There are such good stories buried in there, though. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist.

      • May 13, 2012 10:56 am

        Hear, hear! Teenage years on The Middlest Sister would be great! Yes, you might notice I rarely cover the teenage years here. Some things are better off left in the vault.

    • Emily permalink
      May 11, 2012 9:48 am

      Couldn’t you have just put on a T-shirt? Anyway, I have a similar story–grade four, I was definitely NOT one of the “cool kids” (actually, I was a huge geek, but my social life picked up towards the end of the year……right before my parents transferred me and my brother to a new school when I was in grade five, where I had to start over from scratch), but anyway, end of grade four, one girl in my class had a pool party at her house, and invited everyone. I was SO excited, but then I woke up a few days after the invitation, and couldn’t open my eyes, because they were crusted shut with pinkeye. My parents, of course, took me to the doctor, and the first thing I asked when I got there was, “Can I still go to Kendra’s pool party next week?” In the end, I was able to go, as long as I wore goggles while swimming. I happily complied, and I actually think that that party was made even more special by the fact that I almost didn’t get to go.

    • May 13, 2012 10:54 am

      I think I was the last girl in my class to shave my legs. The idea of taking a razor to my skin completely freaked me out. I think I heard too many horror stories. Thankfully, I have light hair. But I am cringing as I read about your pool party.

      I loved 1981-Burt Reynolds (aka Cannonball Run). 1989-Burt Reynolds? Eh.

  8. Tony permalink
    May 11, 2012 8:13 am

    I started reading this and thought ‘nope, never heard of this show.’ Then I watch the promo and like after a night of greasy bar food and too many cocktails it all came back up. I hated these type of game shows as well. A contestant’s financial fate is in the hands of has-been actors that don’t give a crap. Namely Burt, Dom, and Ricardo who seemed to be BFFS in the 80’s era. Bert Convey was one of those celebs from the 80s that you thought would never go away but thank God he did.

    • May 13, 2012 10:59 am

      “Then I watched the promo and like after a night of greasy bar food and too many cocktails it all came back up.” Sheer poetry! Well done, bro.

      I love the SNL spoof of Burt and Dom on an old Johnny Carson Show. And they’re doing some crazy pranks like taking a shaving cream pie to the face, and Dom (aka Chris Farley) pees his pants. Fantastic!

      Poor Bert Convy. I think he died of cancer relatively young.

  9. May 11, 2012 8:36 am

    What?? Of COURSE Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson were married! They’re the celebrity couple that saw us through the years between Lee Majors & Farrah Fawcett and Brad & Jennifer! (Okay, there was probably another couple in there, but I don’t know who it is. Maybe Arsenio Hall & Paula Abdul?)

    • May 13, 2012 11:03 am

      My husband claims I misunderstood him and he simply didn’t realize the two were on a game show together. Sometime I’ll tell the story of how my husband tried to convince me that Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal were the same person.

      Arsenio Hall and Paul Abdul were a couple? Whaaaaaaaaat? My brain just folded in on itself!

  10. May 11, 2012 8:48 am

    This desire by the ‘regular guys’ to be part of the club goes a long way back. Folks flocked to Vegas to see the Rat Pack boys yuck it up with the inside jokes. And then there were the unwashed masses at the Acropolis watching Plato and Aristotle goose each other.

    • May 13, 2012 11:06 am

      This is awesome, Nancy! Fantastic work. You win my Comment of the Day award. I don’t have any formal awards or prizes but I may have to come up with something.

      And the fact that you took time to read this post, even just coming off of your Big Freshly Pressed Week. I’m honored!

      • May 13, 2012 11:17 am

        Are you just saying that to get in my good graces now that I am a celebrity?

      • May 13, 2012 11:20 am

        Well, let’s just say that you might be the one on the Win, Lose or Draw couch who didn’t look painfully awkward.

  11. May 11, 2012 9:14 am

    Oh my god Angie- my husband and I were just dying of laughter. It DOES sound like loser!! And wait- you never mentioned the host!!!!

    • May 13, 2012 11:08 am

      In life, there are Winners or Losers. In 1989, somehow I don’t believe I would’ve stood on the same side as Loni and Burt.

      Yes, Bert Convy was the best. I should’ve given him a proper shout-out here. Did you know Vicki Lawrence hosted the show too? I always forget about her. And poor Bert got sick around this time (and later died from a brain tumor).

  12. beck16 permalink
    May 11, 2012 10:36 am

    I had completely forgotten about that game show! I don’t remember watching it, but I remember it coming on.
    Oh what I would have given to sit at the cool table for just one day!…

    • May 13, 2012 11:15 am

      Here you could’ve sat right between the cool kids on a couch! How fun! And if you were really cool, they’d hit you with a couch pillow. Oh, the joy of it all!

  13. May 11, 2012 10:49 am

    To hell with the celebrity guests – where’s the love for our sparkling host, Burt Convey?

    • May 13, 2012 11:16 am

      Yes, Bert Convy deserved a shout-out. I didn’t want to bring a damper to the post though — you might recall he died relatively young and soon after this show aired. I loved him on Super Password especially.

      Vicki Lawrence also hosted this show. I loved her too. I really liked her on The Carol Burnett Show. I wasn’t a big fan of Mamma’s Family though.

  14. May 11, 2012 1:36 pm

    OhmyFridaygosh. I missed the boat on this show, and now my guilty pleasure soul is telling me I’ve got to find out if it’s available on DVD. Jimmy Fallon does Pictionary with audience members and his celebrity guests, but he’s so competitive that there isn’t much time for inside jokes.

    • May 13, 2012 11:19 am

      Oh, poor Jules! No enjoyment of Where the Wild Things Are? No Win, Lose or Draw? Just what kind of sad, sheltered childhood did you have, you poor thing? Although, not so sheltered that you didn’t get to dress up for Halloween in the best costume known to mankind. To be continued…

  15. May 11, 2012 3:09 pm

    Yes! Phony enthusiasm. Phony humility! Phony Burt hairpiece! This indeed does make me feel “drop my tampons while searching for my checkbook” awkward, and I always pay cash for my tampons!
    Excellent.

    • May 13, 2012 11:31 am

      Phony Burt hairpiece is right! How did I forget about that? What about dropping tampons and toupees in the middle of a grocery store — just imagine the horrible awkwardness of that scene!

  16. May 11, 2012 3:49 pm

    Thanks for bringing back the memories, as always, Angie. Can you wipe them out as well? Please?

    • May 13, 2012 11:33 am

      Why do you think I share them here? It’s much like a cult — in order to escape these memories that haunt me today, I have to replace myself with a new cult member to carry on the mission. Congratulations, Elyse. You’re our kind now.

      • May 13, 2012 1:22 pm

        I always wanted to be a cult member. Pass me the Kool-Aid, please

  17. May 11, 2012 6:10 pm

    Aah- this brings back fond memories of a summer crush- Chuck Woolery. I loved him even though I can’t spell his name. Game show host extroidanaire…

    • May 11, 2012 6:54 pm

      I can’t spell anything- extraordinaire…

    • May 13, 2012 11:36 am

      Chuck Woolery! The ol’ “two and two” — I loved him. I had a crush on him even during Love Connection, where he was already well past his prime. But still very Rrrrrrrrrrrroooooooow.

  18. May 12, 2012 9:43 am

    Okay, Angie, it’s time to break out the negative ad-campaigns. Your proposed WordPress button is one of the finalists on my Question of the Week. Just thought I’d let you know!

    • May 13, 2012 10:28 am

      Fantastic! Thanks for letting me know on the off-chance that I didn’t actually read your post and just used my new button instead.

  19. May 12, 2012 10:48 am

    Hmmm I guess I have always felt comfortable being a gawker. I didn’t need to be part of the group, because it took too much work. A day-pass was fine for me, especially if it meant being sandwiched between two celebrities.

    • May 13, 2012 11:38 am

      I think this goes back to you and your family in that adorable ’70s photo where you all look happy, smiling and very comfortable in your own skin (not to mention, in your ’70s fashions). And then, comparatively, my family in their ’70s photo looks stiff and uncomfortable. Of course, that could’ve been the polyester to blame.

  20. May 12, 2012 9:28 pm

    Yes, Win Lose or Draw was WAY too manic. Give me Password any day. And yes, HATE Loni and Burt, but LOVE Loni on WKRP in Cinncinnati. Because that was my absolute favorite, even more than the Dukes of Hazzard. (I still laugh out loud when I remember Les Nesman covering the turkey fiasco, and Arthur Carlson saying, “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”) The cool kids were never to be trusted, of course, either in the lunchroom or on TV, but I had to admire their style.

    • May 13, 2012 11:40 am

      That WKRP turkey stunt was LEGENDARY! I think that might be in the top ten most memorable moments ever to occur on a sitcom. Really. Loni was fantastic on that show. I can’t think of anything she ever did that compared to that role.

  21. May 12, 2012 9:45 pm

    I used to watch this show too! But I vaguely remember it being a teenage version? Was there a teenage version of this show??

    P.S. Just because you happened to mention Burt Reynolds I just have to point out that my dad is the equivalent of Burt Reynolds–in asian form. It’s funny. Everyone makes fun of him for it. It was the mustache. Just sayin’…

    ;)

    • May 13, 2012 11:45 am

      This is somewhat related — when my husband and I went on a trip to Texas, we saw his parents’ doppelgangers who happened to be Asian. They looked so much like them in clothing, hairstyles, demeanor, walking gait — it was surreal. I’m now certain that everyone, including Burt Reynolds, has their own Asian doppelgangers. Your dad must be Burt’s. He is so lucky!

      I think that the teenage version of the show missed me. I wish I would’ve seen it. I’m sure it would’ve been twice as demeaning as the original version. I can just imagine sitting on a couch next to Staci Keanan and Corey Haim yukking it up together. Oh, the fun of it all.

    • May 13, 2012 1:39 pm

      “But I vaguely remember it being a teenage version? Was there a teenage version of this show??”

      I posted about it above, as well as linked an episode that I found on YouTube. Enjoy the cheese!

      • May 13, 2012 2:58 pm

        Hooray! Awesome! I completely remember Skippy being a host on some game show. Although this is still seeming a little vague in my memory bank. Thanks for digging this up for us, Dienna.

      • May 13, 2012 3:10 pm

        No problem!

        I am fuzzy on the specifics myself, but I do remember Danny Pintauro from “Who’s The Boss?” banging his head in frustration on the drawing board when no one could guess his clue, and Skippy asking Tannis Vallely from “Head of the Class” if she spoke Valley because of her last name (though her last name has three syllables, not two). Jill Setter, who was Tara on “Welcome Freshmen” was a regular, non-celebrity contestant on the show too. Other than those little tidbits, I don’t remember other specifics.

      • May 13, 2012 3:16 pm

        Head of the Class! Welcome Freshman! Oh, my. My head is pounding now from these references to shows that had completely escaped my memories until now.

      • May 13, 2012 3:20 pm

        Here’s one last “Head of the Class” reference…

        Pictionary was mentioned upthread, and there was also a teen version of that. The teen version was hosted by Brian Robbins, who was Eric on HOTC. Unfortunately I can’t find anything on YouTube for visual evidence.

      • May 13, 2012 3:26 pm

        Eric on HOTC! Yes, I remember him. Oh, wow. I loved that show, up until they jumped the shark and got Billy Connolly as their new teacher. Or maybe it was after they went to the USSR on a student exchange program. That was a little wackadoo as well.

      • May 13, 2012 6:16 pm

        Dienna: Ahhh! There it is!! LOL! :)

        Angie: That is too funny. We need to post some pictures of these Dopplegangers ;)

      • August 5, 2012 9:50 pm

        Months later, I found a “Teen Pictionary” episode with Brian Robbins:

        The YouTube gods have worked in my favor.

      • August 5, 2012 10:08 pm

        Holy crap! Thank you so much for digging this up from the trenches, Dienna. I never saw this show. Delightful! Eric from Head of the Class? Holy flashback! I would write more, but I’m off now to watch the rest of the 20-minute clip.

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