DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

CANDACE KELLEY

TOM BRINKMOELLER

MONIQUE NAZARETH

DAVID SICILIA

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
 
 
 
1976: Chuck Barris Introduces 'The Gong Show'
June 14, 2017  | By David Bianculli  | 3 comments
 
The Gong Show, which debuted today in 1976, is the worst, and therefore arguably the best, of the tasteless game shows produced by Chuck Barris. It came not to praise contestants, but to bury them, and Barris himself, as the talentless host of a largely talentless talent show, led the charge.

In retrospect, The Gong Show gave us an early peek at the type of publicity-hungry, charisma-starved "performers" who would flock to cable's public access channels (not to mention talk shows) in the eighties and nineties. Watching the show, though, was like being behind the wheel of a car and seeing an accident, or an animal carcass, on the side of the road — it was hard not to slow down and look at it, yet you felt ashamed and sickened once you did. The celebrity panelists were as devoid of enviable skills as the contestants, and the show encouraged a level of cruelty not encountered again on a regular TV series until The Morton Downey, Jr. Show.

Historically, Barris gets a smidgeon of credit for excavating and perpetuating the concept of "gonging" contestants — established on radio's Major Bowes and His Original Amateur Hour as an aural equivalent of vaudeville's hook — and for providing a national TV audience with its first glimpse of Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman. But any credit Barris deserves is dwarfed by the blame of creating such a mean-spirited satirical series.

—Excerpted from Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television's 500 Biggest Hits, Misses and Events



 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
 Website (optional)
 
NLGNP
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: 
3 Comments
 
 
Jim
Nah, this review is a bit too harsh on the series. I think it did at times veer into cruelty, but if you watched it regularly you'd know it was more like karaoke -- everyone knew they were bad, and that was half the fun, and the contestants who were the most over the top, bold, and unashamed in their badness often lasted the longest without getting gonged.

You'd also know that Barris wasn't the show's only host. Gary Owens, for example, was the host its first year (76-77), and he tended to be kind to participants.

It was a great show -- a chaotic romp that valued personality over talent.
Jun 14, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Christy Slewinski
Robert: If you have the clip in an easy-to-share format and would like to share, we'd love to feature it on TV Worth Watching. You can reach us at info@tvworthwatching.com.
Jun 18, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
Noel
Barris actually read my most unkind review of his show on the air one day. When he finished, he titled his head back, spit high into the air, and then caught falling gob in his mouth. Then he smiled and thanked me. What a shameless jerk. And little did we realize then that he was, as you notek, the Ghost of Television Future.
Jun 14, 2013   |  Reply
 
Robert
Noel - while I know I'm in the minorty here, I have been a Barris fan since "The Gong Show" and actually have a clip of him reading your review of his short lived "Rah-Rah" prime-time variety series back in 1978. (btw, I'm also a Rod Serling and Norman Lear fan, so I hope I can redeem myself here a little...:))
Jun 14, 2013
 
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: