Greg: And welcome to the first installment of Buzzer Beater.I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, his name’s John Lopez. John, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
John: Alright, my name is John Lopez. I am a friend of Greg’s on a game show forum, an aspiring writer, an otaku, and a diehard film buff. Now, Greg and I will be analyzing game shows that lived a short life, be it good or bad. Today, we are going to turn back the clock of the early kid game shows of the 80’s.
Greg: Yes, before Pictureka, before BrainSurge, there was…. Fun House.
John: Fun House, next to Finders Keepers, was a competing kid game show to the ever-popular Double Dare. Messy stunts, a fast paced kart race, and a 2:00 minute run through a wild maze of obstacles and rooms for exciting prizes and cash.
Greg: And it was produced by Stone Stanley Productions, who would go on to produce cult classics such as Legends of The Hidden Temple, Shop Til You Drop, The Mole, and Winning Lines.
John: Now, Greg and I are going to analyze five elements for the show: The overall gameplay, the host, the design, the music, and finally, the Fun Factor.
Greg: And let’s start with the host. J.D. Roth.
John: JD is a multi-talented guy, Greg. And getting his start on Fun House at his young age, he easily connected with the young contestants as well. Although I do wish he would be a bit more like Marc Summers, meaning demonstrate a few stunts here and there, maybe even do a crazed dive into the Balloon Lagoon, but other than that, he was a fantastic host.
Greg: Now let’s not forget, JD did some acting as well. He didn’t have OCD like Marc did. He was all there.
John: That’s right, I even remember Roth was on an episode of my fav. series Tales from the Darkside, and of course, he voiced Jonny Quest in the series reboot. But Roth is still talented to this day, given his production credentials with 3Ball.
Greg: That’s right. He co-created The Biggest Loser and Unan1mous. Shows that are international successes to this day. Onto the gameplay. Each round started with a stunt, and that lead to a bonus question relating to the stunt.
John: The stunts are very well done, even during themed shows. The two best episodes I remember that themed stunts well were the holiday themed episode in which one stunt involved a dreidel, and Chocolate Day which obviously used chocolate in each stunt.
Greg: Themed days were very common on the show. There was a salute to New England, where JD would shout out to various stations that carried the show.
John: Secondly was the game breaker, the Grand Prix Race, which also incorporated smaller stunts within it.
Greg: In one race, you had to pick up bags of cans and recycle them.
John: But also, these players had to collect point tokens along the way, which are attached to certain posts found along the track, primarily 10 and 25 point tokens, although the pilot did add the red 50 point tokens.
Greg: This was because the pilot had bigger prizes. Of course, it was also produced by the same people who did The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime. Without the XPTLA Company there would be no Fun House.
John: Speaking of Fun House, that is the winning team’s reward, a multi-level structure known as the Fun House. And boy, this was truly amazing.
Greg: A maze filled with wacky and messy rooms hiding tags. You could be diving in a pool of water to get a tag, or being hit with the announcer.
John: The basic premise was for the team to alternate in 2 minutes, running through and grabbing 3 tags. And those prizes were, dare I say, exorbitant.
Greg: Yes, you dare say. Where else could you get a pizza party for 20 of your closest friends?
John: Heck, one of the prizes given away was being able to choose your own pet!
Greg: And a trip to Disney World to boot!
John: The pilot even outdid itself, namely tickets to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Greg: And Michael Jackson tickets plus your own phone line!
John: This truly did go above and beyond in terms of prizes.
Greg: Over $25,000 in cash and prizes to be exact! And this was a kids’ show!
John: If the show was at an older age demographic, I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw in a Rolls Royce.
Greg: Now wait a minute, they did have a Fun House for an older demographic. It was hosted by actor Greg Kinnear.
John: College Mad House, and unfortunately, that only lasted one season.
Greg: And sadly, they didn’t give away a car. In any case, this show was syndicated but did go to Fox for the last season. That’s where things really started to go downhill.
John: Although it did add in a few elements within the Fun House run, namely the Fast Food Run and Glop Clock.
Greg: Which gave you an extra 15 seconds. Still didn’t excuse the announcer though.
John: Boogaloo Shrimp. Great dancer, not so much in the announcer’s department.
Greg: Shame too. Anyway, I thought the show was all right.
John: But we are not done yet Greg. Next we are going to look at the ever changing sets.
Greg: That’s right. In the 3 seasons it was on, it had a number of facelifts.
John: The pilot’s set, to begin with, had an interesting element that I’m surprised was never added into the regular series: the tag scanner.
Greg: John, that was advanced equipment. What if it broke?
John: Still, if you think about it, I personally see the tag scanner as a means for building suspense, rather than just outright blare an alarm the second someone found the Power Prize tag.
Greg: You’re probably right. Although you could open each tag to see if the Power Prize is there. In any case, Season 2 was a true upgrade season. The Fun House had a water slide which would carry over to the next season. I consider Season 2 the best season of all of them. Unfortunately, I got a lot of Season 1 episodes when I did some tape trading. Do you tape trade, John?
John: No but most of the eps I have seen have been on YT. And there are a few things I did like in Season 1’s Fun House design, namely the Ball Room, the Swimmin’ Hole and Mt. Fun House. But yes, Season 2 did employ a coastal theme to it if you look at it, namely the Treasure Island, Hurricane Alley, and the Pirates’ Ship.
Greg: Now, John….. I understand you host your own underground version of Fun House in Orlando.
John: Actually, I don’t really anymore. But I did some early eps. at a local large indoor playground with FH elements implemented into it.
Greg: Do you have any pictures or video clips you’d like to share?
John: I wish I did to be quite honest. Although I still have copies of shooting schedules and such.
Greg: Good. At least we know something exists. Anyway, onto the music. The theme was written by Score Productions.
John: The overall music score is amazing, although I wish I could find the bonus round music because that was personally one of my favorite pieces of music on FH.
Greg: And that’s what Score does. You know, John…. I don’t think most people are familiar with the company.
John: I always thought Edd Kalehoff had a hand in making the music for Fun House.
Greg: Well, maybe he did. I think it’s more likely to be Robert Israel. I don’t really like the music that much, but then again I grew up on The Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour Theme. And that was killer!
John: Around Fox’s FH, the music score changed greatly to a more louder rock, and that was just as enjoyable, and interesting to note, College Mad House’s music score set the scene for Shop til you Drop’s music.
Greg: Oh yeah……. and now, the Fun Factor. This show is enjoyable to watch. If you like messy stunts, big prizes, and dream of running through the Fun House at the carnival, this is the show for you.
John: I really liked this amazing structure, namely the Fun House, and the prizes can attract any young contestant to try out.
Greg: And it also encouraged regular physical activity.
John: There were a pair of exercising tapes that also served as show compilations as well.
Greg: I have one of those, John. “The Fun House Funk”. Boy, was I disappointed.
John: But….there was a product attached to the Fun House brand name that I really wish it wasn’t. The NES game.
Greg: There’s a reason why my family didn’t have video games until 1999. This might be one of them.
John: I’ll put it this way, JD Roth looked like Tim Allen, the Fun House was only seen in between stages, and the gameplay doesn’t involve any element from the show (save for the Glop Clock).
Greg: Pitiful. And we all know Tim Allen is not cut to be a game show host. Richard Karn, however…. is. But that’s another story.
John: At least I know this wasn’t touched by the infamous Gametek
Greg: Infamous? Without Gametek, where would we get the countless Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy games?
John: Two words…. Double Dare.
Greg: Physical challenge.
John: Not funny.
Greg: Oh. I thought it was. OK, maybe it wasn’t funny.
John: Alright. Well that was Fun House, very messy stunts, racing for points, and grabbing prizes that would make any child feel high class.
Greg: With the parents paying taxes.
John: I still have fond memories of this show, and watching them now are a joy.
Greg: Too bad the kids’ game has fallen to pot. Take a look at Pictureka. The announcer’s a freakin’ guitar player whose singing annoys me immensely.
John: Haven’t seen it yet…and maybe it’s best I don’t.
Greg: Right you are.
John: But trust me, there is another show with a far annoying host……..but that’s another Buzzer Beater.
Greg: And we’ll be back with more later. Thanks John for coming today.
John: No problem.