Remote Control

From Academic Kids

For electronics, see remote control.

Remote Control was a TV game show that ran on MTV for five seasons from 1987 until 1990. New episodes were made for first-run syndication in 1989. It was one of the earliest non-music programs to appear regularly on the music video channel.

It was hosted by Ken Ober and featured Colin Quinn as the gravel-voiced announcer/sidekick. Jon Ten Eyck played several walk-on parts, joined in later seasons by Adam Sandler and Dennis Leary. Steve Treccase provided music; Marisol Massey (Season One), Kari Wuhrer (Seasons Two and Three), Alicia Coppola (Season Four) and Susan Ashley (Season Five) were the hostesses.

The show's premise was that Ober desperately wanted to be a game show host and set up his basement (at 72 Whooping Cough Lane) as a television studio. The theme song sketched the scenario out: "Kenny wasn't like the other kids / Remote Control / TV mattered, nothing else did / Remote Control / Girls said yes, but he said no / Remote Control / Now he's got his own game show / Remote Control!" Shows were sometimes interrupted by the disembodied voice of "Ken's mother," and the show's set featured a washing machine and cheesy bric-a-brac. The premise, always thin, was dropped after the first sesason.

Three contestants sitting in lounge chairs would select one of up to nine channels, each of which represented some topic having to do with pop culture. Sample channels used on the show were "The Jon Bon Jovi Network", "Brady Physics", and "Dead or Canadian". Contestants answered questions to get points. Some categories were performance-driven, such as the beleaguered Fairie Pixie, who would read forlorn nursery rhymes about television shows; "Celebrity Square," a cutrate version of the long-running Hollywood Squares game show (MTV could only afford one square instead of nine, but otherwise the rules were unchanged: contestants still had to get the X across, down, or diagonally); "Sing Along with Colin," in which sidekick Quinn would rasp the lyrics to popular MTV songs or TV theme songs; "Casey's Big Poll," a survey hosted by Ten Eyck imitating radio personality Casey Kasem, accompanied by a burly man in drag as "my lovely wife Jeannie"; or "Beat the Bishop," a beat-the-clock challenge that forced contestants to complete math problems within the time it took a man dressed as a Vatican bishop to race around the studio. During the fourth season, there was a category called "Wheel of Torture." Allicia Coppola (the hostess at the time) would to spin the Wheel of Torture (with sections labeled "Noogie", "Wet willie", and "Purple Nurple") and Colin would administer the torture to the contestants. There were some "negative" channels such as "Home Shopping Zone" that penalized players by taking points away from them.

Off The Air

After round two, a siren would go off and the lights would dim on and off. That signalled that the lowest-scoring player had to go "Off The Air," or in other words, be eliminated from further play. Contestants exited the stage in a variet of ways, ranging from being pulled back in your recliner through a trick wall or wall paper to being lifted up and out of the room! When a person exited, the audience would sing a song about leaving, typically "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," "Hit the Road Jack," or "Get Off My Show" (to the tune of "Get Off My Cloud"). In case of a tie, no player was thrown off the air and all three contestants would advance to the next round. This rarely happened in the show's history. Also, as a contestant with the lowest score in round 2 went Off The Air, he/she would be tormented by various annoyances behind the contestant whilst they were screaming. The "Off The Air" ejections were probably one of the reasons this show was popular.

Lightning Round

In seasons 2-4, you and your opponent had 30 seconds to rack up as many points as you can. Typically, this was a fill-in-the-blank or spot-the-errant-word format. For example, Ober would read movie titles that had one word replaced with a snack food, and contestants had to come up with the correction. The winner goes to the Grand Prize Round while the loser, as explained in "Off The Air" above, exits the same way. In the final season, you had to bet earned points on a math problem.

Grand Prize Round

MTV Version: You're strapped to a Craftmatic Adjustable bed. Identify the artists performing in 9 separate music videos to win the grand prize (which was usually a car or a trip to a beach resort).

Syndicated: You're strapped to the "Wheel Of Jeopardy". To win the prize, answer as many questions (out of 10) correctly to increase your chances of winning the grand prize. For each question successfully answered, you would win a prize and the corresponding screen would display "Grand Prize." If your head lands on a screen that had "Grand Prize" displayed, you would win the whole prize package.


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