Retro Rewatch: $25,000 Pyramid – Didi Conn/Richard Dean Anderson Week

Now here’s an interesting Retro Rewatch – game shows!

When I was a kid, in the days before the Game Show Network, I loved watching reruns of game shows on USA’s daytime programming block. $25,000 Pyramid, Scrabble, Press Your Luck, Supermarket Sweep, Shop Til You Drop, Concentration – I LOVED watching people win money and cool 1980s prizes. I think all of us, at one time or another, watched all of these shows. Of course, we all grew up with The Price Is Right (it was our sick day show of choice, right?), but I loved the other game shows, and I especially loved that they were reruns.

One of my favorites was “the pyramid,” which changed its top prize several times over its life. Starting out in March 1973 as the $10,000 Pyramid, it was succeeded by seven different series. In 1976, the prize was upped to $20,000. That version ran until 1980, and was revived for CBS daytime television in 1982 as The New $25,000 Pyramid. That version ran until 1988, with a $100,000 version running concurrently in primetime from 1985 until 1988. Also of note, between the first daytime series ending in 1981 and the second beginning in 1982, there was a $50,000 version in primetime. The amounts may have changed over the years, and the celebrities may have changed weekly, but the consistency of the show was in who hosted it.

Dick Clark hosted every daytime version, as well as the nighttime versions in the 1980s, with Bill Cullen hosted a nighttime $25,000 version from 1974 until 1979. Beyond the 1980s, John Davidson from Hollywood Squares hosted a revived $100,000 version in 1991, Donny Osmond hosted the simply-titled Pyramid from 2002 until 2004, and Game Show Network – er, GSN – aired a forty-episode version in 2012. And currently – since 2016 – a primetime version airing during the summer months airs on ABC, hosted by Michael Strahan.

But for me, it was all about the daytime version that aired for the first six years of my life, premiering on CBS in 1982, and airing until 1988.

I watched “the pyramid” as a kid when it was on daytime television in the mid-late 1980s, but I especially loved watching it in reruns during summer vacation. I loved watching celebrities, always from soap operas and primetime programming, dishing out and having to figure out clues relating to the topics on the pyramid board. I probably didn’t know 99% of the celebrities featured at the time, but it was still fun to watch regardless. I also remember there being a version of the series on Muppet Babies when I was little, with Baby Kermit and Baby Piggy as the “celebrities.” The reruns on USA – and later, Game Show Network – showed episodes I would have been too young for when they originally aired, or saw and wouldn’t have really understood.

Kind of like this four-part harmony of episodes from the first season of the revived daytime version in 1982. Why only four? Because the fifth one isn’t available online.

Oh well.

Recorded on October 10, 1982, these episodes of $25,000 Pyramid aired the week of November 1st through 5th of the same year. That week’s celebrity contestants were Didi Conn and Richard Dean Anderson.

At the time Didi Conn was playing Denise Stevens on the sitcom Benson (at the time early in its fourth season) and was in Grease a few years before that, while Richard Dean Anderson was fresh off General Hospital a year earlier, and then-currently on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which wouldn’t last beyond that season. He was a few years from one of the roles that would net him pop culture icon status, he just needed to survive stinky primetime dramas first.

For their week, Richard and Didi here to help contestants Jerry, Gail, Dolora, and Chris get to the top of the pyramid and the namesake prize amount.

I actually watched one of these episodes a few years ago on YouTube, and I’m happy that several more of them resurfaced, even if it isn’t the complete week. But, for the sake of keeping this short and sweet (or as short and sweet as I let my articles be), we’re going to extensively watch one episode.

This episode features returning contestant from the previous day, Chris Nagle, and newcomer Dolora Argeno, if that’s how it is actually spelled. I have no idea. Even Dick Clark can’t pronounce her last name.

So let’s play “the pyramid,” and meet our celebrities!

Also, meet their wardrobe changes! They filmed all of these in one day, so while the contestants didn’t change clothes, the celebrities did!

From Television City in Hollywood…it’s Rick and Didi, playing alongside Dolora and Chris!

After our celebrities are introduced, Dick Clark explains how the game is played (after he unties his tongue), and then introduces the contestants.

There’s newcomer Dolora Argero who owns a mail order business. She will sell Dick Clark anything he likes, since he asked. She’ll be playing alongside Didi, and there’s Chris, who was yesterday’s winner of $12,000. He’ll start out the game with RDA.

The ladies will go first, after Dick Clark introduces the categories.

Didi selects “Pay Day,” which involves clues relating to “things people pay.” Simple enough, right?

Didi and Dolora are off and running, going through the category of things people pay – they stumble on “fee,” and run out of time on “ransom.” Five out of seven, and they’re off to a good start. But the guys are up next, and ready to overtake them.

Richard Dean Anderson chooses “Hard As A Rock,” things that are hard. Hat, skull, blackboard, steel, elephant tusks, nut, and an iceberg. It is a absolute last second victory, but the guys get seven correct!

Dolora then selects “A Clothes Call,” which is things relating to clothing.

Weren’t the categories disguised as puns some of the worst category names ever? Yes, yes, A “Clothes” Call, we get it. You meant “close!”

Anyway, Dolora selected it, so she is giving the clues to Didi, and again, it is all about clothes. Zipper, cuff, wrinkles, lint, a spot, monogram, pleat – and like that, they get them all bringing them to 12.

Not content with their seven correct answers, the guys are next, and they’ve selected “Ho Hum,” or, “things you do when you’re bored.” Eating, whistling, reading, sigh, pace, doze, whine – all the way to 14!

Dolora selects “Go-ing in Style,” and will give the clues to Didi. Gorilla, Governor, Golf, Goal, Goose, Gossip, Gopher – a perfect seven points brings them to 19!

Chris selects “Barefoot in the Park,” giving the clues to Rick, dishing out descriptions for picnic, ball, carriage, swan, playground, pond, path, and a total of 20 points! They’ve won the round, and are off to the Winner’s Circle.

And they’re not ashamed that they won by default either. What someone should be ashamed of, however, is unnecessary punctuation. In this instance, it is the use of quotation marks on “winners.” Why? Why is this necessary? Why not Winners! or Winners, why “Winners.” I would never have thought twice about this watching the reruns in the 1990s, but as an adult, this just seems unnecessary.

But they’ve won, so that means it is off to the Winner’s Circle for Chris and RDA.

In the Winner’s Circle, the object is to win the most money for the day. They’ve got sixty seconds, and the categories are fast and furious in this round – Cold Things,” “What A Photographer Says,” “Kinds of Coins,” Women Named Betty,” Things in a Soap Opera, Things That Fade. They run out of time on “Things that Fade,” but Chris winds up with a nice chunk of change for his effort.

We’re now in a new round, and Chris is now paired with Didi, and RDA is paired with Dolora. It’s this moment where our celebrities plug their programs – Didi talks about being in her second season on Benson (airing on “another network”), RDA promotes Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, which was airing on CBS at the time.

After Dick gives the category names (including the “Mystery 7”), RDA and Dolora are up first. They choose “Morning Munchies,” which relates to breakfast foods. Bacon, toast, waffles, melon, omelette, honey, oatmeal, and seven points for them!

Didi chooses the “Mystery 7,” which has a prize trip to Hawaii for seven correct answers. Comb, mascara, soap, tweezers, talcum, capsule, alcohol, and unfortunately, Chris doesn’t get that last clue before the buzzer.

Back to RDA and Dolora, and their category of choice is “What’s Next?” Broker, horoscope, Howard Cosell, A Critic, Computer, and the buzzer stops them at eleven.

Back to Didi and Chris, and their choosing of The “En” Crowd. Woody Allen, Doc Severinsen, Hal Linden, Candice Bergen, Beethoven, and the buzzer stops them at ten, but not before Didi points out how many of these people she knows (Dick Clark jokes around about it afterwards). They get to go again, and choose “Shake and Bake,” which is clues for things you shake. Chris is giving the answer this time. Leg, broom, fist, pom-pom, stick, tambourine, and they’re stopped at fifteen.

RDA and Dolora now have control of the game, with their score of eleven. They need sixteen in order to win, and they choose “Spoil Sport.” This category relays things that spoil other things – RDA is delivering the answers this time.

With smog, weed (not the smoking kind), bully, termites, and hurricane, RDA is taking Dolora to the “Winner’s Circle.”

Sounds risque, doesn’t it?

In The “Winner’s Circle,” Dolora needs to beat Chris’s $750 earnings for that day, and is treated to “Movie Directors,” Medical Operations,” “Why You See a Lawyer,” “Hair Styles, “Sour Things,” and “Things That are Continued,” and with three seconds to spare, Dolora succeeds in winning $10,000!

And she gets to do what so many women would get to do at conventions many years later. And those chicks didn’t even win money to do that – they had to spend it!

And thus, the end of another day of “the pyramid.” RDA, Didi, and Dolora will be back tomorrow, but Chris…will not. However, he is going home with $12,000, which is nothing to sneeze at.

I believe based on the other episodes uploaded from this week, this episode was the Tuesday episode. The rest of the episodes uploaded were Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, leaving only Chris’s first episode omitted from the lineup. But, we find out he was the holdover from the day before, so we know how he did.

And if you want to see more than just my words explaining all of this to you, the video is published on DailyMotion, courtesy of user “Jennings.”

Yes, I intend to use quotes for this one.

Jennings was also nice enough to upload the remainder of that week’s episodes.

Wednesday’s episode features Dolora going head to head with newcomer Gail, a housewife with two children six and two-and-a-half – er, Scott and Noah…

Gail succeeds Dolora and moves on to Thursday’s episode, which has her going head-to-head with Jerry!

And Gail and Jerry wraps up the week with Didi Conn and Richard Dean Anderson on Friday’s episode, where Didi talks about what she will be doing that weekend (wait till you hear about it!) and RDA feeling so much better after hearing that story.

What a story, don’t you think?

That was a fun trip down memory lane. We laughed, we cried, we were all “what the heck?” with categories laden with innuendo, and Didi’s story taking a turn, and RDA says “Minne-soh-tah!” with that charming accent he has.

I’ve enjoyed this so much, I actually thought of another game show – a kiddie one – that aired in the mid 1980s. And I’ve just got to cover it on here. It is so worthy of a Retro Rewatch.

So…another story for another time?

I think so!

Have a great day!


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