Lynch makes Hollywood Game Night watchable
It’s Thursday. It’s summer. It’s hot. That means it’s a heavy night for lightweight network game shows or “alternative” programs.
Hollywood Game Night is less frivolous than the others, however, and I credit the marvelous Jane Lynch (Glee) with making it so. That and a dearth of screaming, overly ebullient contestants bouncing around the stage like hyperactive kiddies on a sugar high.
Lynch has won a couple of Emmys for her hosting duties on the show.
Hollywood Game Night is in full swing for Season 5 and airs at 7 p.m. today on NBC with the episode “Game Night Is the New Black.” The title would explain a couple of the celebrities playing the party games tonight.
Natasha Lyonne is in the Netflix series Orange Is the
New Black, as is Dascha Polanco. They play Nicky Nichols and Daya Diaz, respectively.
Celebrity status is always in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re a fan of Orange, you’ll know who they are.
Also on hand are Taye Diggs (Private Practice), comedian Matt Iseman, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
(Trivia: Hines married Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2014.) In case you haven’t caught Hollywood Game Night before, here’s how it works.
Two teams of four players each play a series of what NBC touts as “outrageous and hilarious” party games. Each team consists of three celebrities and a noncelebrity captain.
The celebs are playing for their favorite charities; the real people are going for the $25,000 grand prize in the bonus round.
About the series, Lynch told Parade magazine, “The most fun is just standing back and watching people have fun. I can always count on the celebrities to jump in there. What makes each show unique and fun for me is that it’s a whole new dynamic and they never let me down.
“I have never had a bad show where I had to pull teeth in order to get people to have fun. So it’s kind of a show that hosts itself, in a way.”
More fillers. If you want more summer filler shows, The Wall follows Hollywood
Game Night at 8 p.m. on NBC. Beginning at 7 p.m., ABC offers Boy Band, the somewhat depressing Battle of the
Network Stars, and The Gong
Show, a pale shadow of the original.
CBS has Big Brother (my favorite guilty pleasure) at 8 p.m.
Fox brings us Beat Shazam at 7 p.m., followed by Love
Connection. I’ve not written about either of these before, so here goes. Beat Shazam boasts Jamie Foxx as host. Seriously, how many game shows have an Oscar-winning host? Foxx earned his statuette for playing Ray Charles in Ray.
In Beat Shazam, teams of two players each compete to identify some of the greatest hit songs of all time. In each round, the teams have a choice of two music categories. When a song is played, each team must try to be the first to identify the correct title. Lowest team is eliminated until only one remains.
The last team standing goes up against the song identification app, Shazam, for a chance to win big bucks.
Trivia: Foxx’s real name is Eric Marion Bishop. He chose his stage surname as a tribute to the late comedian Redd Foxx.
More trivia: Redd Foxx’s real name was John Elroy Sanford. Love Connection. This is a one-hour reboot of the original syndicated dating show that aired from 1983 to 1994 with Chuck Woolery as host. There was a brief attempt to relaunch the thing in 1998 with Pat Bullard as host. It didn’t last.
Fox notes that host Andy Cohen’s version “amps up the original hit show for today’s audiences.” I’m not certain what that means, but it sounds ominous.
In each episode, single men and/or women “in search of romance” are sent on blind dates. They then “dish the dirt in front of a live studio audience, as Cohen, the wellknown provocateur, brings his personal brand of audacious fun to the series.”
Aside: Why do the networks always say it’s a “live” studio audience? What other kind of studio audience is there?
Provocateur? Dirt dished to Cohen can be fairly snarky for dates gone bad and the audience seems to have the appropriate reaction of hooting and hollering.
“I was a huge fan of the original Love Connection,”
Cohen said in a Fox interview, “and hosting the new version allows me to do one of the things I love most — meddling in people’s personal lives.”
Cohen also hosts the nightly 10 p.m. Bravo series Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. Bravo notes Cohen is the first openly gay host of an American late-night talk show.
Jane Lynch (left) watches as Cheryl Hines gives clues on tonight’s episode of Hollywood Game Night on NBC.