These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Part of an ABC news report circa 1978 (after the backdrop changed from orange to blue) had the reporter standing next to the Winner's Circle pyramid, showing six subjects. Seemingly to demonstrate what would likely happen to the show with inflation, $20,000 became $70,000, with the 7 in the same font as the other numbers used during the New York era. Funnily enough, the show has never had a $70,000 prize, and the two largest amounts used at the top were $50,000 and $100,000.
One contestant on $100,000 listed her occupation as a "domestic goddess", which befuddled Dick Clark. When asked to clarify, she revealed that she was simply a housewife, and a few subsequent housewives introduced themselves the same way.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: What a select few thought of The Pyramid after viewing GSN's special "sneak preview" episode (it was intended to be, after all, a direct homage to Dick Clark's version). There's even a fraction of the fanbase that thinks the reason for the show's short run was because it was almost exactly the same.
The Problem with Licensed Games: The $1,000,000 Pyramid for the Nintendo Wii, easily one of the worst game show video games ever created. No Mii support (typical of Ludia's Wii games), the classic 1982-91 logo is a lie since the game otherwise copies pretty much everything from Donnymid (the version most fans hate viciously), zero computer AI (your opponents start off by scoring one point on just about every subject; they get smarter as you progress, but will never pose a challenge), laboriously slow gameplay, hideous camera angles (no shots of the Winner's Circle pyramid while you're playing it), and the $1,000,000 top prize is awarded every time you clear the Winner's Circle — thus you have no incentive to play it after clearing the game once... unless you really want to unlock the wardrobe items.
John: You need seven to tie and eight to win—(buzzer)
At least twice, he had to ask on-air why the stagehands were flashing cue cards at him:
One involved a team who found the Mystery 7 last. They only needed four points to win, but by long-standing rules would play out the category to try for a trip to Aruba. John apparently didn't know this, because a stagehand flashed a cue card reading "but keep playing" and he had to ask what it meant. (To John's credit, the same thing happened later in the run and he handled it flawlessly.)
On another Mystery 7, he nearly blurted out the topic (which on a Mystery 7 isn't revealed until afterward, hence the "Mystery") and asked why they were flashing a card that said "don't tell".
Special Effect Failure: On at least five occasions, the slides fell out of the Winner's Circle trilons. You have to admire the contestant for not turning around after a large plastic sheet has just slammed into the floor right behind their back!
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The 1996-97 pilots altered the gameplay (and the set!) very drastically. Would you believe one celebrity for each category?
Donnymid, to most fans. The kicker? It was done by the same guy who did the 1996-97 pilots. The double kicker? It was the basis for Ludia's $1,000,000 game.
Dark set and loud techno theme. Fun fact: even the critics said this about Donnymid's theme selection, bemoaning it as "change for the sake of change".
Six words in 20 seconds instead of seven in 30. While this may not seem like much, it did actually affect things — the older format gave teams an average of 4.28 seconds to get each word; under the Donnymid format, this shrunk to 3.33 seconds per word.
Gratuitous camera angles, especially in the Winner's Circle.
One of the worst warm-up guys in the genre, Steve Saunders.
Taping all the front games first, then all the Winner's Circle rounds.
If the contestant opted to receive in the Winner's Circle, the celebrity was briefed on the categories and given clues. If the contestant opted to give the clues, both were in the dark.
The Winner's Circle itself had some bad writing and plenty of Moon Logic Puzzles. This wasn't helped by anal judging which required the category names to be said verbatim for credit to be given.
Because there were no returning champions in this version, in order to qualify for the tournament, a player had to conquer the Winner's Circle twice on the same day, which given the before mentioned problems was harder then before. The same thing was required to win the top prize in the tournament, meaning any tournament winner had to conquer the Winner's Circle four times in 2 days. On top of that, the top prize was still $100,000 dollars in an era where million dollar game shows were big.
Following the stuck-to-what-worked 2009 pilots which convinced fans the show could work in the here-and-now, Michael Davies' changes for the 2010 pilots were (according to him) "designed to bring the show into the 21st Century".
The set had no chairs, which meant that everybody stood up. While Davies referred to this as "bringing the show to its feet", contestant applications looked for people who "love to play charades".
The Winner's Circle pyramid, the show's centerpiece (used in every version and pilot), was ousted for the first time in the franchise's history in favor of seven large monitors shaped like a horizontal pyramid. The center screen was used for both game boards, while the two surrounding it were used to display the words in the front game. The other four were just... there, and it didn't help that the Winner's "Circle" itself was actually pyramid-shaped.
The main game was played pretty much the same, except the third and fourth categories of every game were the bonus ones and all categories were pre-selected by the producers rather than being chosen by the teams. Each hour-long episode was structured like a tournament, with the first two winners playing the third game for a shot at $25,000.
What an Idiot: Every game show has them, and word-association games with illegal clues are more prone.
At least twice, a team managed to claim none of the boxes in the Winner's Circle. One of those instances, seen here, was one of the few times that the contestant chose to give clues.
At least one team on Donnymid managed to get zero words in one category in the main game.
Those Donnymid judges, who usually required the contestant to say the Winner's Circle subject verbatim, with uttering the "essence" considered unacceptable (breaking all precedent). Among others:
Category: Characters In The Wizard of Oz Unacceptable Guess: Things In The Wizard of Oz
Category: Things Mick Jagger Would Say Unacceptable Guesses: Mick Jagger / I Am Mick Jagger
Category: Tools Unacceptable Guess: Things In A Toolbox
Category: Things On A Cave Wall Unacceptable Guess: Things In A Cave
Category: Things A Babysitter Says Unacceptable Guesses: Babysitter / Things A Babysitter Does note (Actually in the 1996 pilot, but listed here because that pilot and Donnymid had the same producer.)
Connie Francis' run as a celebrity guest on $10,000. Her career had just been sidelined after she was traumatized by a rape in 1974, and Clark, a friend of hers, thought that putting her on Pyramid would help ease her back into the limelight. Unfortunately, she was paired against Nipsey Russell, already an ace at Pyramid, and she became one of the first celebs to go 0 for 10 in a week. What Were They Thinking The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History placed this at #85.
John Davidson in 1991. Yes, Dick was busy with The Challengers and Bill Cullen had sadly died a few months before taping began in 1990, but they couldn't get anyone better than Davidson?
The many weeks where Henry Polic II (a friend of Stewart) filled-in as announcer. Stewart's earlier Double Talk (a revival of his own Shoot For The Stars) proved that Polic isn't that great a host; Pyramid proved that he isn't that great an announcer, either.
Those who don't speak English as their primary language are naturally going to have a difficult time playing an English-language game where the object is to describe words and phrases as quickly and concisely as possible. Despite this, Donnymid brought in Russian-born Lenny Krayzelburg for a week. He proceeded to lose all ten games against the other celeb (Picabo Street), and at least once did so poorly in the maingame that it ended after the fifth category. Considering that, the fact that players change partners for Game 2, and the many ways Donnymid screwed contestants out of qualifying for the Tournament, it seems the only reason the poor guy was there in the first place was so nobody playing that week could qualify.