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A curio that should intrigue Gen-Xers today

Author: Gary L. Thompson from Dearborn, Michigan
10 January 2004

As one who was there when this originally aired, take it from me that if VCRs had been common back then, I would have this show archived today. As it is, I think people are really missing a unique piece of Americana by not being able to pick this up at their local Blockbusters (which would not be too much trouble, as 13 episodes would only take a DVD or two, or six videotapes, at the most).

This came from the era of "trash sports" programming, when "Superstars", "Challenge of the Sexes", "Almost Anything Goes", "Battle of the Network Stars", etc. were competing with the real thing for airtime. Of these, I think "Games People Play" would reveal some unexpected charms in retrospect:

A) Main host Bryant Gumbel caught in the transition between NFL football coverage and NBC's "Today".

B) Arte Johnson

C) Johnny Bench and (I think) Cyndy Garvey co-hosting a "King of the Hill" competition with Cincinatti's "Kings Island" in the background, as contestants battled against elimination in foosball and mechanical bull competitions.

D) The actress playing the role of Debra Winger's friend in "Urban Cowboy" competing in the above-mentioned mechanical bull competition.

E) Arte Johnson.

F) A truly weird competition in which men competed busting through a door to a bar in the least time....

G) Nice bouncy score, particularly during the bumpers showing what was coming up....

If they have a category for offbeat TV shows (like "Plan 9 From Outer Space" has infamously been for bad movies), those who release videos should consider this a prime candidate for it.

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Mr. T's first TV appearance

Author: michaelm-29 from Portland, OR
23 January 2006

"Games People Play" marked the first time I saw Mr. T (as in Mr. A-Team, Mr. Don't-Do-Drugs, Mr. Stay-in-School, Mr. T). A couple of episodes featured the "World's Toughest Bouncer" competition, in which Mr. T was a contestant. Each competitor would approach a punching bag, give it a good sound swat, say their name, and then proceed to jump over bars and tables in a bar-themed obstacle course. Winning was based on whoever maneuvered the course the quickest. The end of the course was a wood door that they would bust through to ring a bell which stopped their clock. Needless to say, Mr. T smoked the competition. I don't recall if he had a mohawk at that time; I think he wore a bandanna over his head, ala Pirates of the Carribbean. He definitely had the feathered earrings and the attitude.

The only other segments I remember involved a Houdini-type escape artist with a blue-sequined jumpsuit and a receding hairline. In one episode, he shackled himself to a roller-coaster track, only to escape the path of the oncoming cars at the last possible second. Another episode, he locks himself inside a wooden box and must free himself before a stunt car crashes through it.

The only other show in 1980 that held as much tension was "That's Incredible". I was 5-years-old when "Games People Play' aired, but it definitely left an impression.

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Mr. T was tough

Author: brett-174 from United States
25 May 2005

Growing up in the Chicago area we had access to this locally produced episode (in the days before cable TV), filmed in a local tavern. I remember watching this show as a kid. Mr. T was tough!! He looked very scary and never smiled, as a child I thought this is one man (I never heard of before) you don't mess with! It was a bouncer contest, he wore a towel on his head to protect his "do" during one event that involved breaking through a door and ringing a bell. Not only did he ring the bell he RIPPED IT OFF THE WALL!!! He won...of course! That image of a large mean looking man, stuck with me for a very long time. It was years later when he appeared on The A Team, that I saw this incredible unique man again, and still thought he was one bad mother@#&*%$.

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