July 04, 1988 12:00 PM

CBS (Mon., July 4, 10 a.m. ET)


It was silly to have high hopes, medium hopes, any hopes for this adventure in pop-cultural recidivism. Maybe I once did enjoy Family Feud. Or maybe I just spent too long defending it as a campy, kicky, kissy pop cultural hoot. Whatever, my hopes were quickly dashed and splashed when I watched the new Family Feud, which looks and sounds almost exactly like the old 1976 Family Feud with one major difference: Host Richard Dawson, the big kisser, is gone, replaced by Ray Combs, a little guy whose comedy career began in an Indiana Holiday Inn. Combs, I’m sure, is a very nice man. Perhaps that is the problem.. Dawson was wry and sly; he may have kissed the contestants, but he didn’t have to like them. Dawson had a benign contempt for the contestants, the audience, the show and himself. Combs, according to his network bio, had an “exceptionally happy high school career.” He’s a family man married to a “hometown girl” named Debbie. He likes fishing, racquetball and “mall-trolling with my kids.” Which makes him the perfect neighbor and perhaps the perfect game-show host but a pale successor to Dawson. So I think I’d rather remember Family Feud the way it was, if I choose to remember it at all.

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