ABC (July - September 1987)
Merrill Heatter has had a rough go at it ever since Bob Quigley died or stopped working with him after the syndicated Hollywood Squares ended its run in 1981. Everything that he tried to do after that was either short lived or never sold. Battlestars had 2 runs on NBC, the first for 6 months with a disjointed bonus game and a much better revival that only got 13 weeks. Pilots such as Malcolm and Lucky Numbers were laughed at, and he finally got his shot at redemption with High Rollers airing in September with some new twists and turns. But the show he got to air before that was an unmitigated disaster. It turned out to be one of the most vapid shows in television history. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to max out your credit cards and play Bargain Hunters.
Poor Peter Tomarken. I know it had to be quite disappointing for him when Press Your Luck got cancelled in 1986, while the show was doing ok in the ratings and would still be fondly remembered after its cancellation. Heck, it was airing in syndication a few months later. So, either on a lark or being begged by Merrill Heatter to do so, here he is. Peter was probably the best thing about the show. Scratch that, he was the best thing about the show.
The announcer was the announcer that made me wretch more than any other in Dean Goss. He got his big break in announcing by replacing Brian Cummings on The All New Let's Make A Deal in 1985. He also got to host a few games on the show during its last year. After that, he got to do quite a few weeks of The $100,000 and $25,000 Pyramids before doing this. Needless to say, he had me pining for Rich Jefferies. He wasn't just annoying, but he didn't know how to control his annoyingness. When he's doing a prize copy, he'll read it softly, and then out of nowhere yells out it's price and who was the manufacturer. God, I wanted to punch him so much while writing this.
Ok, remember when I said at the front page that this show was a rip-off of a rip-off? Well, here's here it comes in with the format. Two people compete in a pricing game in order to win a prize. These three games are different, but they never changed throughout the entire show's spectacular 9 week run. The first game is The Bargain Quiz. Basically Peter reads off a bargain statement, the contestant that buzzes in has to figure out if it's a bargain or not. If right, they get a point. If wrong, their opponent gets a point. The first to three gets a prize and moves on to Super Savers.
Bargain Trap is played like the front game of Trivia Trap....or at least the first 2 months of its run. The contestants are shown 5 priced items. 4 are good, but one is the Trap. The contestants go back and forth picking prizes. If they pick a bargain, they get it. If they pick the Trap item, then the game is over and the other contestant wins. If both contestants avoid it twice, then the tiebreaker is played where they have to guess how much was tacked on to the original price. Closest to it goes on to Super Savers.
The final game is Bargain Busters. So, kind of like Blockbusters, but with items? Not hardly. Basically they plug a local store and an item to be given away and they have to guess what the price was out of three options. So, it's a lame multiple choice game. Get the right price and you get a point. Most out of 3 wins and if they need a tiebreaker, a 4th item is played and closest to the price gets to play Super Savers.
So, neither one of these games sound interesting, or actually original for that matter. The first round is a lame True/False thing used on multiple shows, Bargain Trap is Trivia Trap, but with prices instead of answers to a ridiculously hard trivia question, and Bargain Busters is a generic multiple choice one that's done to death as well. I've heard that this show was a bad rip-off of The Price is Right. Well, Bad Rip-off is correct, but it's a rip-off of another lame Price is Right rip-off in.....
Yes, It's a bad rip-off of Time Machine. That John Davidson 16 week wonder that tried to do different games with history instead of pricing items. And to be even more honest about this, at least Time Machine had a wickedly awesome set, good music, and a variety of games per episode, or at least until they changed up their format 7 weeks in. And unlike Bargain Hunters, Time Machine was announced by Charlie Tuna, who was great and (ahem) Rich Jefferies, who at least wasn't as bad as Dean Goss and they were good. When your show is ripping off Reg Grundy's weakest show in the states, then you know something is amiss.
Super Savers has 7 items shown and all of them bargains. The three winners get to pick 3 items, hoping that those are the biggest bargains on the table. Whomever saved the most money wins and gets a bonus trip. Yeah, it was a meh way to end the show.
Oh, and I was just describing the games, I forgot all about nauseous Goss and his announcing of these lame items that you can buy at home. Sometimes they did have some relevance to the games played. More often than not, they were a piece of the prizes won. For example, if a VCR was won with some movies attatched, the attached tapes would be the bargain item. These items were worse than the items given away on The Home Shopping Game and Bob Circosta knew those items inside and out and knew how to sell them. Dean didn't and made these situations even more unbearable than they normally are.
To wrap it up, this show was bad from the word "Pilot". It not only brought nothing original to the table, it was already being done better with The Home Shopping Game, and that show wasn't good either. Peter looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there and the set had to look like it was done very cheaply. The less said about Dean Goss, the better and the games played were rip-offs of Trivia Trap any any other quizzer that's been done.
But my friends....The worst is next week and it's the last induction of 2012 before we enter the new year. This show is truly the worst that was produced out of 1987 and probably the worst out of the 1980s. Think about that. This decade gave us Paul Rodriguez Newlywed Game, Jimmie Walker as a Magician on Matchmaker, Camouflage, Celebrity Bullseye, and Everything Goes, and this is the worst of them all. Be warned and afraid, be very very afraid.