In the interest of full disclosure, as a lifelong game show geek, I don’t need a buzzer to give my ringing endorsement to “Game Changers,” a trivia-packed documentary about TV’s most enduring genre.
Hosted by immortal “Jeopardy!” quizmaster Alex Trebek, the film covers considerable ground, from the quiz show-fixing scandals of the mid-1950s that almost killed the form in its infancy to the ’60s-defining “Let’s Make a Deal” and “The Dating Game,” on which a baby-faced Arnold Schwarzenegger is shown in a clip asking, “What does it mean, ‘hanky-panky?’”
Then it’s on to the generally regarded golden days of the ’70s, fueled by such celeb-heavy formats as “Hollywood Squares” and “Match Game,” and, after a downturn in the ’90s, a new-millennium resurgence led by “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Filmmaker Craig Thompson forgoes splashy bells and whistles in favor of a more conventional approach, allowing Trebek and his interview subjects, including Peter Marshall, Bob Eubanks, Regis Philbin, Pat Sajak and Vanna White and Monty Hall to speak eloquently while providing a treasure-trove of tasty tidbits.
Who knew that William Shatner had originally been tapped as the host of “Family Feud”? Or that Merv Griffin had come up with that iconic “Jeopardy!” theme in just 90 seconds, sitting at Marlon Brando’s old piano?
Pure gold, no Whammies.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Playing: Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood