"From the Chuck Barris stages in Hollywood, California, it's '3's a Crowd!'"

A very short-lived and tasteless game show produced by Chuck Barris, the man who also gave the world such shows as The $1.98 Beauty Show, The Gong Show, and The Newlywed Game. 3's a Crowd is notable as the first and (hopefully) only game show to be based exclusively around sexual harassment.

3's a Crowd (using the numeral in the title) premiered in September 1979 and ran until February 1980. It was hosted by Jim Peck, and is occasionally broadcast in reruns on Game Show Network. The premise is simple: "Who knows a man best -- his wife or his secretary?" Play proceeds exactly like the Newlywed Game: the women disappear into isolation as three men are asked questions to reveal embarrassing details about their love life with both their wife and their secretary. A typical question would be "How many times per week do you make whoopie with your secretary under your desk?" When the women return, each of them is asked the same question. They both answer, the man reveals a card with the answer he gave, and points are earned for each match. Although the premise is "Who knows a man best," points are scored for each threesome together. The team that has the most points at the end gets to split $1000, a pittance for all the intimate details that they had to reveal.

I have seen this show a few times on the Game Show Network, and it ranks among the most trashy thirty-minute shows ever produced. The show began and ended before I was born, so I can't vouch for how well it was received. Chuck Barris has always had a reputation for scraping the bottom of the barrel in his quest for fame and fortune, so I can't imagine that this show was any more controversial than his prior efforts.

You would think that such a show would be unheard of in our politically correct new society, but Sony Television green-lighted a project called "All New 3's a Crowd" to be hosted by Alan Thicke. It aired in syndication and on the Game Show Network between 1999 and 2002 (!). Shedding the limitations of the original, the All New version of the show featured a man with his girlfriend and ex-girlfriend, or brother and wife. Unlike the original, All New 3's a Crowd also put women at the center. The show was every bit as cheap as the original, but died quietly.

Sources: http://www.loogslair.com/gameshow/rules/3crowd.html (original), http://webrookie.multiservers.com/crowd.htm (All New)

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