- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Will Harris
hen BCI announced plans to release a set featuring four discs worth of “All-Star Family Feud” episodes, you could hear TV geeks around the world absolutely losing their shit. Today’s world of reality TV has kinda killed the novelty factor of seeing our favorite actors interacting with each other outside of their various series, but this set takes us on a trip back in time to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. If you lived during that era, the resulting flashbacks will knock you for a loop, but if you’ve only read about it history books, now’s your chance to see the casts from your favorite reruns in their prime.
Host Richard Dawson is as fawning and obsequious as you remember. You might be surprised that he opens several of these shows with a comedy monologue, but given how many episodes of the “Feud” he’s hosted, it’s none too shocking to find that the guy’s a born stand-up, with great delivery and impeccable timing. (“The bad news is that the Rams are going to move to Anaheim; the good news is that that’s the most yardage they’ve made in three years.”)
“All-Star Family Feud” isn’t quite as bad about dumbing things down for their contestants as “Celebrity Jeopardy,” but it’s certainly not immune from it. When Adam West (Batman) is asked to name something you enjoy shopping for, even if you don’t buy it, he answers, “candy.” But there are quick off-camera assurances that an earlier “X” for Beverly Garland’s answer of “ice cream” was meant to indicate that the answer wasn’t food of any type, and West gets to guess again. Somehow, I can’t imagine that happening in a regular game of the “Feud.” Still, give them credit for not editing out the moments of complete stupidity on the parts of the celebrities, such as Dick Van Patten guessing that one of the popular places to apply perfume is on the tip of one’s tongue (?), or Bernie Kopell giving such consistently awful answers that even Dawson finally places his hand on Kopell’s shoulder and says, “Bernie, I hope you never need the charity you’re playing for.”
Some show premises don’t hold up as well as others. An episode purportedly pitting “Heroes” versus “Villains” selects gymnast Kurt Thomas and Jon “Bowzer” Bauman as representatives of the former, while a “Hollywood Walk of Fame” game finds Cesar Romero and Rod McKuen serving as unlikely teammates. Additionally, some casts work better in the game show milieu than others, which means that the most consistently entertaining episodes tend to be those which spotlight sitcoms. Realistically, though, pop culture aficionados will have a field day with every episode, whether it’s seeing casts of shows that have been mostly forgotten today (“Hawaiian Eye,” “Angie,” “It’s A Living”), future stars in their early years (Jeffrey Tambor, back when he was doing duty on the lone season of “The Ropers”), or seeing celebrity train wrecks unfolding before their very eyes. (In particular, there are two episodes featuring the cast of “One Day at a Time,” and while one of them finds Mackenzie Phillips in recovery mode, the other shows her looking as thin and strung out as anyone has ever appeared on network television.)
“All-Star Family Feud” might be a set that only the real television obsessive truly needs to own, but it vaults into the top tier of sets you really hope that a friend of yours will buy, so you can borrow it.
Special Features: None. Which is disappointing, but not surprising, given that Dawson hasn’t found his way in front of a camera since the revival of “Family Feud” went off the air in 1995. (He replaced Ray Combs for the show’s final season.) Still, how awesome would it have been to get a few of the former contestants to chime in on their experiences? Seriously, I have visions of Joyce DeWitt talking about how competitive Norman Fell was, or Gavin McLeod moaning about how much better they would’ve done if they’d just kicked Bernie “Dead Weight” Kopell to the curb in favor of Jill Whelan, or – in a perfect world – John Travolta bemoaning that he thought he was “too big” to do the show, leaving Ron “Horshack” Palillo to drag the “Welcome Back, Kotter” team down. Man, now I want to make that special feature!