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Bad show

Author: briguy_52732 from Eldridge, Iowa
9 September 2001

It's funny how time changes your perceptions of some TV shows. Take, for instance, the 1985 NBC game show "Time Machine."

While the show was in its (deservedly) short run, this game was sort of up my alley; at the time, I enjoyed the show because it was just one opportunity for me to satisfy my appetite for learning about recent history and popular culture.

Today, I see the show as a piece of crap. Basically, the show's basic flaw is in its concept; it's simply stretched too far. I mean, how many questions can you ask about Watergate and the Vietnam War, certain memorable sports teams and TV shows and Elvis Presley without boring viewers? And some of the questions themselves (though admittedly interesting) were simply inane just by how they were asked (e.g., "Were Twinkies introduced before or after 1955?").

I don't object to the format per se; some of the elements of "Time Machine" would undoubtedly work as an occasional feature on a TV show or even morning drive radio show's quiz segment. But an entire 65-show series? That's stretching the rubber band way beyond its elasticity.

Then, there's host John Davidson. Great performer, but I never really cared for him as a game show host. He did OK (but just OK) as host of the 1980s version of "Hollywood Squares," but seeing one episode of the series, I don't think he really cared if his contestants won or lost (he'd just slap on a plastic smile afterward and go to a commercial).

"Time Machine" tried to cash in on the then-growing popularity of trivia games (both home and on television). Only one of them would succeed -- the far superior "Jeopardy!" which of course wasn't a new game (having debuted in 1964 and was in its first year of syndication when "Time Machine" aired).

I have heard some elementary schools were planning to recommend this series to children (their families better have had VCRs) so they could learn about history. Any school which recommends a "history-based" game show (such as "Time Machine"), whose questions tended to lean more toward pop culture rather than recent history, is deficient. I'd have recommended reading history books -- which avoid the inessential pop culture -- instead; if this show were to air today in an identical format, the far superior "History IQ" would serve as the history-quiz show of choice.

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