I've been a fan of the show ever since it was "The $10,000 Pyramid" and happened to catch the last half of an episode after we checked into our hotel during a high school speech and debate tournament in Medford, Oregon. Actor Jack Klugman was giving clues to a middle aged lady who tore through the subjects like she had a train to catch, winning the $10,000 in something like 40 seconds. It was funny, the audience was cheering, the bells and the music were playing, Jack was jumping up and down like he had won the money, and the lady had no idea what was going on. When she finally realized she had just won $10,000, she almost had a panic attack. I was hooked, and most enjoyably so.
I've always loved words and word games, and "Pyramid" was one of those shows that just drew you in from the first. The time limit pressure, the ingenuity of a number of the celebrities and contestants in giving the clues, the "How did you get that?" feeling when a point or some money was won after a clue that was less than stellar, and the "Why didn't they get that?" when someone had all the time in the world and missed the one subject they needed to win the jackpot. I remember a contestant was giving Alan Alda the clues in the Winner's Circle, got the first five in something like fifteen seconds, then spent the remaining time on "Things That Tempt You." Alda just could not get the subject, and he was given some great clues. Then there was the time Betsy Palmer was giving a contestant clues, got the first four with no problem, then ate up a lot of time on "Square Things." When the contestant got it, they had eight seconds for the last subject, "The Original Colonies." Betsy said "Jamestown," and after a couple of seconds the contestant said "Parts of the Original Thirteen Colonies." She had two seconds left on the clock when she won the money.
Dick Clark and the late Bill Cullen were the best hosts of the show...of course, Cullen made any show better just by being on it. Donny Osmond did a fair job as host of the latest version, "Pyramid." He could have used some pointers from the master, Dick Clark. John Davidson was an unmitigated disaster as host of the 1990 version of "The $100,000 Pyramid." If it hadn't been for the fact that it was the Pyramid I wouldn't have watched it.
One of TV's better game shows, and I wish it would come back on again. I'd love a chance to be a contestant on it.