During the mid 1980’s, it was official that Nickelodeon became the #1 program for kids and adults. Due to the popularity and critical acclaim of Double Dare, Nickelodeon decided to release three new game shows to catch in on the success. The first one that came out was Finders Keepers, which was debuted on November 2, 1987.

The show had two teams of kids looking for hidden objects on a large picture. The more objects they find, the more rooms they get to look in the main house. The rooms consisted of normal rooms like a living room, a kitchen, the closet, and the bathroom to obscure rooms like Ali Baba’s Bathroom, Frankenstein’s Laboratory, and Sherlock’s Study.

Then the real part of the game began when the kids would be giving a clue of the object they are trying to find and they have 30 seconds to find it. Some of the objects were easy to find while some of them were too hard to find. The clues were too cryptic for children’s minds and most of the time, they didn’t even know what they were looking for. In this episode for example, the blue team was in the closet looking for a large penny. It turns out it was in the pocket of a mink coat.

In this episode, the blue team were trying to find a pair of sunglasses. Where was it hidden? Inside of a plastic fish. How the hell was anyone suppose to figure that out?

Anyway, the team with the highest points would have the chance to find six items at six rooms in 90 seconds to win prizes. The final round never really excited me as much as the obstacle course in Double Dare because it was pretty much the same as the other rounds, so it was a bit lackluster.

The host of Finders Keepers was Wesley Eure whom some of you know as Mike Horton from Days of Our Lives and Will Marshall from Land of the Lost. He was a pretty good kids’ host, but didn’t have the charm that Marc Summers had with Double Dare. Overall, the show didn’t do very well. It was cancelled on September 11, 1988, less than a year after it was debuted. The show was re-released again on September 12, 1988 for syndication. The host was Larry Toffler instead of Wesley Eure due to wanting a younger host. Larry was a bit better than Wesley, but not by much.

There was another difference between the Nickelodeon version and the syndicated version such as finding the objects. Instead of circling the object with a light pen with the picture being presented on a telestrator, the picture was presented on the game board and the kids had to stick laminate stickers to the objects. The show continued on for another year until it was cancelled on March 10, 1989, six months after it aired.

Wesley Eure went on to do other things after Finders Keepers. He became a children’s author, a stage show actor, and co-created the popular PBS kids’ show, Dragon Tales.

 

Dragon Tales logo.jpg

Larry Toffler has guest appeared in other game shows like Russian Roulette, Greed, Debt, and Catch 21. He is the only person thus far to become a game show contestant after being a game show host. Overall, if you’re a fan of Where’s Waldo, the I-Spy picture books, or the hidden object computer games, then this might be for you. While I do like those things as well, I found Finders Keepers to be an okay game show. Not as memorable as Double Dare. 

The next game show debuted on May 1, 1989. The show was called Think Fast.


The game consisted of two teams of kids playing various games to rack up enough points to get a chance to enter The Locker Room. Some of the games included scrambling words, guessing puzzles, and Plumber’s Blackjack, in which they pick cards and depending on what number, they get a beacon filled with liquid. The team members would pour the liquid until it reaches the red line.

The Locker Room was finding a total of six objects that matched one another in 30 seconds to win various amounts of prizes. I thought that the timing was way too short and most of the time, unless the kid had a good memory, they didn’t win the game.

The show was hosted by Michael Carrington. He was a bit dull and boring, nothing too special about him. However, I have to point out that he was one of the first African American game show hosts since Adam Wade hosted Musical Chairs back in the 1970’s.

He was replaced by a younger, more lively host named Skip Lackey. Just like Finders Keepers, the show had a few changes that happened when the host was replaced. There were a few more games and The Locker Room added 30 more seconds to find the matching objects. While Carrington was dull and boring, Lackey was hyperactive and all over the place. It made the show a bit more tolerable, but not by much. So pick your poison on which kind of bad game show host you want. They were both terrible. The show ended on June 29, 1991.

After Think Fast, Michael Carrington went on to be a TV writer writing episodes for shows like The Simpsons, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Proud Family, The Gregory Hines Show, and That’s So Raven. 

 

Skip Lackey acted in a 2002 German movie called Leibe auf den 2 (Love at Second Sight) and went on to do a religious radio talk show on BlogTalkRadio. Overall, once again, it was an okay game show. Truly nothing special to make it stand out and was weighed down due to the terrible hosts. This is my second least favorite among the 80’s Nickelodeon game shows.

The last game Nickelodeon game show that came out in the 80’s was Make The Grade.

The show consisted of three kids answering various amounts of questions from different topics to acquire squares on the game board similar to Hollywood Squares. The first kid to line up the squares in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line wins the round. The grades range from Elementary to the 12th grade. The board might also contain Wild Cards that would either have a Free Card that would allow them a free square, a Take Card in which a contestant can steal a square from another contestant, a Lose Card in which the contestant loses a square, and a Fire Card in which all three contestants have to do a physical challenge.

In the last round was the University round in which the contestant can answer five questions that are worth $50, $100, $200, $500, and $1000. The kids can leave at anytime if the question gets too hard and walk away with the money that they’ve won.

The show was hosted by Lew Schneider, who was a really nice game show host. However, he was a bit of a ditz. Just like Finders Keepers and Think Fast, he was replaced by another host named Robb Edward Morris. It’s interesting that in Think Fast, they replaced an African American host with a White host, while in Make The Grade, it was the other way around. However, unlike Think Fast, instead of making the show slightly better when it came to the decision of replacing the host, it made it worst. While I can see that Morris was doing his best hosting the show being 22-years-old at the time and being surrounded by cameras and hundreds of kids, he was too soft spoken, boring, and it made the show more slower than it originally was. This was the point in which it made Make the Grade the least watched among the other game shows in Nickelodeon.

The show ended its run on December 29, 1991. Overall, this is the worst Nickelodeon game show of the 80’s. While I can see that it was trying to be like Jeopardy for kids of asking intelligent questions, the pace was too slow for me and there wasn’t enough excitement. Especially when Morris came along and hosted the show. After Make The Grade, Lew Schneider went on to be a stand-up comedian, made a guest appearance on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, and starred on two sitcoms Wish You Were There and Down The Shore.


He also became a TV writer for shows like The George Wendt Show, The John Larroquette Show, The Naked Truth, Everybody Loves Raymond, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Men of a Certain Age, and American Dad.

As for Robb Edward Morris, he was in the 1992 movie China Moon starring Ed Harris.

Afterwards, he wasn’t in any other movie or TV show since. No one knew what happened to him until a man named Robert Seidelman from the website gameshowgarbage.com wrote a review on Make The Grade for a month dedicating to Nickelodeon on June 2010. A few months later, Morris himself complimented on Seidelman’s article and told him of his experiences hosting the show and what he was doing now. Today he lives in Germany doing theater work, working on a CD with singer J-DA, and raising his daughter. It’s very nice to hear that he’s living a good, happy life!

Out of all the game shows that were showing on Nickelodeon in the 80’s, Double Dare is the clear winner! No doubt about it! 

It had a great host who would become an icon for millions of people, a fantastic concept of questions and slimy action, and a great run in the obstacle course in the finally. It’s the one show that is still talked about to this very day! For the other game shows that we discussed, while there were fans of it, none can touch the brilliance of Double Dare.

 

That’s all for now. Hope to see you at Old School Lane real soon. Thanks for reading.

-Patricia

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