After heading into production this past summer following a stringent lockdown in the U.S. stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, Card Sharks will return Sunday night on ABC, and host Joel McHale is more than ready for the game show's return. With the shifting landscape of television seeing a revival renaissance of sorts in recent years, McHale, who also serves as producer of the series, explains to PopCulture.com how the reincarnation is unlike its predecessors, mostly because of its comedic elements.
"I think there's a lot more comedy — like, in the old ones, they are flying through the games, and they just do game after game after game after game. And the money we're giving away is much bigger," McHale said in our series, PopCulture @ Home, adding how the personal touch of interaction between host and contestants similar to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? showcases a different approach. "You interact with them, going like, 'What would $350,000 do for you?' And they're like, 'I could buy a house and a car and another house.' So, the stakes are higher, so we see the emotion that they're going through. It doesn't mean the game has really slowed down; it's just with the stakes being higher, you want to take your time a little bit because you don't want to just go, 'All right, you won $350,000. Thanks for coming. We'll see you later.' We draw out the tension a bit."
Previously hosted by the late Jim Perry from 1978 to 1981, Bob Eubanks from 1986 to 1989, and Pat Bullard from 2001 to 2002, McHale reveals that while he hasn't heard directly from Eubanks or Bullard, one of his fellow producers of their 2019 series shared how the '86 host enjoyed the new series.
"Someone told me that Bob Eubanks saw it and liked it," he said. "So, that made me happy. That was the time when television was three channels or four channels, and that's the crazy thing with game shows; I think it was always like, 'It's a game show!' It was like, 'Yeah, everyone watches it!' So that was a time. I think it was really cool they brought all these '70s shows back, with Match Game and Press Your Luck and all that. So, I feel like it's a tradition that I get to carry on in a fun way."
As for a reason audiences just eat up these primetime game shows, McHale says it boils down to how they just work "really well" for everyone. "They're very sound games, and if it's a good game, you can play it forever," the 48-year-old said, further sharing what he finds most appealing about To Tell the Truth, of which he has also previously appeared as a guest on in recent years.
"The simplicity of the idea — just like somebody's telling the truth, everybody else is lying — you got to figure it out," he said of the "solid" idea behind the series, first hosted by Bud Collyer in 1956. "It's like when American Idol came out; it's a talent show. Those have been going on since cave people could stand in front of people and say like, 'Og thinks he can do a better impression of a woolly mammoth than Oog,'" he joked. "They brought [these games] back, like, 'Hey, why were these canceled? We should keep them on since they're good games.'"
McHale, who is multitalented in his own right between acting, writing and producing, goes on to share that if he were to bring back another game show to primetime television, he has just the game in mind. "They already brought back The Gong Show, which I liked very much — maybe Sale of the Century. That's going way back, and then, there was one that Letterman used to appear on in the '70s. Oh, man, I'm not going to remember the name of it. But Sale of the Century, I would bring back."
Card Sharks airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. For more on Joel McHale, Card Sharks and all your favorite stars and game shows, stay tuned for the latest on PopCulture.com! Follow us on Twitter for fresh, daily updates on all things entertainment, movies and TV.