CREDIT: Byron Cohen/ABC

Summer 2019 is winding to a close, which means we will soon have to say goodbye for now to one of my favorite programming blocks, ABC’s “Summer Fun & Games.” I’ve been meaning to do an appraisal of how well each show reaches its potential and how thoroughly they strike my particular pleasure centers, and that’s what I’ve done below. I’ve included all the shows that are currently on the block as well as those that have been cancelled or are on hiatus, organizing them into categories worthy of their status.

CREDIT: Heidi Gutman/ABC

The Titans
Celebrity Family Feud
Match Game
It’s your boy Steve Harvey hosting the stalwart program that all the fame-os want to be on. And it’s Master MC Alec Baldwin fully inhabiting the ringmaster role in the perfect venue where celebrity shtick comes to (blank).


The Steady Standbys
The $100,000 Pyramid
To Tell the Truth
Pyramid and To Tell the Truth don’t have quite the same veteran status Celebrity Family Feud, nor are they as prolific as Match Game, but they’ve slotted quickly and comfortably into the primo Sunday night lineup.

CREDIT: Eric McCandless/ABC

The Recent Revivals
Press Your Luck
Card Sharks
In 2019, ABC dipped even further into the classic canon for some whammies and some aces. These two aren’t my particular bag, as their gameplay is based more on luck than on skill, but they do not skimp on the set design, and the banter is usually well-calibrated.

CREDIT: ABC/YouTube Screenshot

The Oddballs
Battle of the Network Stars
The Gong Show
Holey Moley
Family Food Fight
It’s a grab bag here as we go beyond what fits the straightforward “game show” descriptor. The Gong Show (which I hope is just on hiatus) has more personality than just about anything else by a thousandfold, and personality goes a long way. The dearly departed Battle of the Network Stars is awfully silly, but surprisingly endearing. Holey Moley is wonderfully committed to its putt-putt dopiness, but it quickly gets repetitive playing on the same mini-golf course every episode. And as for Family Food Fight, I must admit I’ve only watched one episode, but it didn’t strike me as much more than your average Food Network competition show.

And now for the final rankings:

How Well They Meet Their Potential
1. Match Game
2. The $100,000 Pyramid
3. Press Your Luck
4. The Gong Show
5. To Tell the Truth
6. Card Sharks
7. Holey Moley
8. Celebrity Family Feud
9. Battle of the Network Stars
10. Family Food Fight

How Much They Appeal to My Sensibilities
1. Match Game
2. The Gong Show
3. The $100,000 Pyramid
4. Celebrity Family Feud
5. Battle of the Network Stars
6. Holey Moley
7. To Tell the Truth
8. Card Sharks
9. Press Your Luck
10. Family Food Fight