YMMV / The Hollywood Squares

  • Awesome Music / Ear Worm: This show has a tendency to hit both of these with their themes:
    • "Bob & Merrill's Theme," used from 1969 to 1979 and named after the show's creators, perfectly captured the show's zany atmosphere.
    • "The Hollywood Bowl," the disco-influenced song composed by Stan Worth and used as the show's theme from 1979-1981.
    • The Davidson-era theme; fairly mellow for an 80s game show theme. And like the Davidson-era run, overlooked and underrated.
    • "I'm driving down Hollywood Boulevard/with the wind in my face/Life is good!/I loooooove Hollywood!" Yes, that's Whoopi singing. Also likely to stick in your head is that harmonica solo.
    • Let's not forget the H2 era theme. An actual song called "Square Biz" from singer Teena Marie, who came back to re-record the lyrics.
    • It's only fitting for a game show named "Hip Hop Squares" to have a theme you can dance to, though this one can be more divisive due to its nature as a Pitbull-esque hip hop/dance track.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: For at least one week of the Davidson run, John was absent and Shadoe Stevens subbed as host. Who subbed for him as announcer/bottom center square? Howard Stern, who, a year later, would parody the show multiple times on his Channel 9 show, including Homeless Howiewood Squares, where homeless people were contestants, and the stars were mainly made up of the Wack Pack, plus Jaye P. Morgan and GENE RAYBURN, who even occupied his lower left square from MG-HS.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "[Item] for the win." The majority of those who use this meme today likely aren't even aware of this series.
    • "You Fool!!!!"
    • Many of the more memorable zingers, especially from Paul Lynde, but one in particular is the one that gets (mis)quoted the most, even on the show:
      Peter Marshall: Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
      Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
  • Older Than They Think: Many think the catchphrase "_ gets the square" started on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, but in fact it originated on the final season of the Marshall run.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • Ludia has a reputation for releasing sub-par game show video games, and the Hollywood Squares Wii game from 2010 doesn't help them. While they did a fine enough job replicating the set and format of Tom Bergeron's final season, that's where the good stuff ends. Bergeron's voice acting shows zero enthusiasm. There are only four actual celebrities in the entire game, and they only ever occupy the center square- and even more jarringly, they used video clips from the show to represent them.. The rest of the board is filled with generic people who don't tell a single joke, removing almost all of the humor for which the real show is known. The questions are really easy, and the bluffs are often head-slappingly stupid (J Lo's real name is Tom Hanks?). The only unlockable rewards are wardrobe items...which you won't even get to see most of the game, since your contestant avatar is rarely shown.
    • GameTek's 1988 NES game subverts this, having actual humor and questions of appropriate difficulty. Depending on one's perspective, the lack of actual celebrities either hinders (compared to Ludia's version) or has no effect on gameplay; as with the Ideal/Milton-Bradley/Parker Bros. Home Game adaptations, these were fictional celebrities, although the host is a caricature of John Davidson. Some were irritated at the four-character limit on contestant names (leading to such workarounds in the "high score" list as "KEV" and... "PHB"?).
    • As far as the home board games go, several. The major drawback for all versions was that this was a game that made its name using celebrities to give answers (correct or not), and if there weren't at least 12 people around — nine to play as "celebrities," plus two contestants and a "host" — major changes needed to be made in the question asking. Indeed, many of the adaptations recommended that one of the players be read the question and he would give a response, to which the opponent would decide whether to agree or disagree. note  Insofar as other comments and critiques, as Matt Ottinger's website The Game Show Home Game page describes it:
      • Watkins-Strathmore released the first home game, in 1967. The game included a deck of 45 cards that held five questions each (only 180 questions for the whole game note ); and only four questions in the entire game were designated "Secret Squares." Ottinger described game play thusly: "On your turn, your opponent answers the question in the square you select, and you agree or disagree with that answer to earn the square. (Neither of you sees the correct answer beforehand.)" Also, to "enhance" gameplay, the players were encouraged to write the names of their favorite celebrities in the squares or their own names. A second edition of the game, with new questions but otherwise identical to the original (including awkward gameplay), was issued in 1968.
      • Ideal issued a much improved adaptation in 1974. Fictional celebrities (including "Harry Hayseed," a parody of Charley Weaver, as the feature "celebrity") were used, and each of the 1,008 questions had prepared responses, to which the contestant had to correctly "agree" or "disagree" to win the box or surrender it to their opponent. Ottinger's main point of contention was that some of the questions were poorly written, and for the questions that had "bluff" answers, the correct answers were not provided (which was particularly frustrating for trick questions or era-specific questions (i.e., news headlines or pop culture) whose facts were likely well-known in the mid 1970s but are little known if asked today. Also, there was a lack of designated "Secret Square" questionsnote . The only other complaint by some was the lack of play money given to players; this was apparently a "just for funsies" game (which may explain the absence of the "Secret Square").
      • Milton Bradley had two adaptations, in 1980 and 1986. Neither had Secret Square questions nor play money (again, a "just for fun," two-out-of-three match was suggested) and all questions were either true-false or multiple choice; both had fictional celebrities. The 1980 version required a third player to act as host (who read questions out of a book), while the 1986 version had separate cards that had holders (similar to the old "Password" games) that served well if only two players were available. The 1980 version had 900 questions, while the 1986 show had just half that numbernote .
      • Parker Bros. released what many considered the best adaptation in 1999. Here, the questions were on their own cards, and had a suggested bluff (along with the correct answer; the "celebrity" or opponent could make up his own bluff, too). Ottinger's main criticism was with what he considered vague rules concerning the Secret Square; apparently, each card had a number in the lower right-hand corner, and each one that ended in a 5 was supposed to be the Secret Square. Play money was used in this version, and the first to collect $5,000 in play money won the game.
  • Replacement Scrappy: John Davidson constantly tripped over his words, always forgot the "cat's game" rule, and was very often unable to rein in the panelists once they started getting goofy.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: This show is light-hearted, funny, freewheeling, and the themes are often catchy, funky and fun. Everybody loves some version of this show- Marshall, Davidson, Bergeron, even Hip-Hop Squares has fans. Just about the only one that's despised is The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour- see that page for why.
  • Tear Jerker: When beloved personalities on the show passed away, particularly if there were shows featuring them (that had been taped in advance) were sitll to be aired. Examples:
    • The day after Wally Cox's death from a heart attack in 1973, Peter Marshall opened the show by explaining that due to being taped in advance, episodes featuring Cox would still be seen for the next two weeks. He then added:
    Dear Lord, have no fear; Underdog is there.
    • A similar tribute was given for Cliff Arquette, who played Charley Weaver, after his death in 1974.
    • As reruns of the 1980-1981 syndicated season were played in many markets during the 1981-1982 season, Peter Marshall was known to have taped a brief tribute to Paul Lynde, reflecting on his friendship and success of Hollywood Squares; the special comments were played on an rerun episode aired shortly after Lynde's sudden death in January 1982.
    • The same thing happened in the 1990s version with the untimely passing of Florence Griffith Joyner.
    • And again with John Ritter.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • The Marshall version's move to Las Vegas for its final season. Besides supposed inferior lodgings (at least according to Paul Lynde), the show's budget was altered as well: No cash per game (each game won a prize, winner of more games won a trip), no Secret Square rounds at all, and the winner of each show would progress in a tournament for a $100,000 prize package (trailer, Buick Riviera, 52-day ocean cruise, $20,000 cash, RV, and an ACTUAL HOUSE).
    • The Davidson version is often criticized for John's ineptness (see above) and the panel's unruliness. Others still dislike the version for it being... a little too unusual, compared to its predecessor and successor incarnations (John occasionally singing the clues, whole rounds being done in the style of other game shows like Jeopardy!, etc.).
    • Some dislike the second Bergeron bonus round, otherwise known as "The Fastest 60 Seconds on Television", simply due to the contestant having to answer the question themselves, going against the show's main gameplay format of agreeing or disagreeing with answers the celebrity gave (though the celebrity was allowed to confer with the contestant). Bergeron himself is said to have hated it because it placed pressure on him to be as fast as possible with the questions within the time frame. However, it is notable for having a $60,000 win, out of a possible $100,000 maximum, under its belt.
    • The Henry Winkler-produced H2 seasons, though not without their fans, also have their fair share of detractors (with many considering this a case of Tough Act to Follow, as Whoopi Goldberg was one of the chief reasons the first four seasons were so popular).
    • While the first version of Hip-Hop Squares was seen as a faithful revival, the second run less so, due to all sorts of issues- celebrities now play the game as proxies for fans (the civilians only playing the bonus game), major pacing problems (the second episode only got one question into the second game before the time's-up signal sounded), no Secret Square element at all, and the celebrity-proxies must use buzzers to agree or disagree. However, one nice aspect (perhaps explaining why the Secret Square isn't present) is that each square in a game contains a different amount of cash, with the cash for winning a game now a bonus.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch showed up during the Marshall era, and notably stayed in character.
    • Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble also appeared in the Marshall era. Two actors wore body suits (similar to what one might find at Disneyland) and their voices were provided by different actors with microphones offstage.
    • ALF showed up on both the Davidson and Bergeron versions; in the case of the former, he also guest-hosted an episode.
    • Three other Muppets—Kermit the Frog, Elmo, and Bear in the Big Blue House—all showed up on the Bergeron version, also in character.
  • What an Idiot: More often than not, on later episodes of the Bergeron edition, contestants had to have the rules spelled out for them as much as possible, not getting that this was basic tic-tac-toe... which one contestant even admitted she didn't know how to play.
    • Any time a contestant picks a box other than one that would have led to a tic-tac-toe or block (upon a correct answer) ... although this has been known to happen even with the best contestants.
    • The third "You Fool!" question asked what 80-day record Phileas Fogg set that was beat by a journalist. Gilbert's answer was "Rowing the Atlantic". One may be inclined to think this is a stretch, but seeing this was one of the "YOU FOOL" questions...