I've rented a collection of "All Star Family Feud" episodes. I'm not exactly sure why I've done this, but I've had a number of revelations while watching it this afternoon.
First, Richard Dawson was a f*cking pig. It might not have seemed that way to the general public at the time -- I certainly don't remember anybody talking about it in the '80s -- but his attitude toward his female guests went beyond "chivalry" or "1984 machismo" into aggressive lechery.
I might dismiss his constant stroking, grabbing, and kissing as "of the time," but the women he's doing it to certainly don't seem to think so; just watch as they shrink from his touch, and watch as he gleefully comes back to do it again and again. It comes across as a form of physical intimidation that you don't see from TV superstars anymore (I hope).
Granted, some of the women seem quite happy with this, but most of them are obviously disgusted. Here's Dawson trying to grab the hand that Maureen McCormick is trying to make discreetly unavailable. She's probably in a tizzy about the cold sores she got from him last week. Christopher Knight, barely sentient, is smiling because of gas.
Second, the country hoe-down atmosphere had always escaped me. Our family watched this show a lot and I never noticed its rural theme: fiddle music, needlepoint set decoration, Dawson's plantation-owner outfit, the entire IDEA of a "family feud." It's only now that I hear the weird way that the announcer says "Family Fyeee-youd!"
An American "yokel show," and by no means the only one...we've had them in Canada as well.
Third, people get nastier as shows go on. It's interesting how the competition -- both between and within teams -- gets less friendly over time. The camera loves to linger on the glares and sneers, and there is something PARTICULARLY scary about a sneering woman who has feathered hair and professionally-applied raccoon eyeliner.
Fourth, the Petticoat Junction people were the coolest. I've never seen Petticoat Junction, but they BY FAR outranked the other teams in terms of personality, graciousness, and intelligence. Since I love "Leave It To Beaver" and at one time enjoyed "The Brady Bunch" this is a hard thing to admit.