Paige discusses the Jack Narz era of Concentration, soon to be broadcast on US channel Buzzr on March 30th.
With BUZZR announcing that they would air episodes of the Jack Narz run of the show, I thought now would be the best to cover it. Along with the fact that my last review was Now You See It hosted by the same man. Created by Barry & Enright in 1958, (later produced by Goodson-Todman) Concentration is the longest-running game show on NBC; Lasting 14 years with 4 different hosts, respectively. After its original run ended in 1973, they put the show into Syndication under the reign of Jack Narz; Seeing a good run until September 8, 1978. The show was rested for almost a decade before seeing a revival on NBC as Classic Concentration with Alex Trebek and would last until 1991 with reruns going to early 1994.
Two contestants tried to match prizes on a board of 30 squares to solve a rebus puzzle. Contestants called two numbers at a time with a match revealing parts of the puzzle, incorrect guesses gave control to their opponent. There were also “head starts” which revealed prizes on the board and “Take 1 Gift” which allowed you to take a prize from your opponent and “Forfeit 1 Gift” which made you give a prize to your opponent, and the “WILD Card” which counted the prize as a match and hitting both at one turn gave a $500 bonus. The goal was to solve the puzzle which would win the prizes you’ve obtained and went on to “Double Play” for a chance to win a new car.
The winning contestant now got the chance to play for a new car. There were two additional rebuses revealed on a separate board, and the player had to solve both of them in ten seconds to win. Later rule changes in 1977 had players determine the prize they would play for on a 9 space grid, with a wild card which allowed the contestant to play for all the prizes.
Jack Narz is the host of the show and if I were to make a top 5 list of underestimated game show hosts, he would be near the top of it. Just like his role on Now You See It, he provides a nice amount of gentlemanly warmth and carries the game very well with his calm demeanour and is often overshadowed as host of the show because of Alex Trebek on Classic Concentration years later.
The Jack Narz run of Concentration I feel is very overshadowed and underestimated because of the “Classic” revival, but it’s a very enjoyable show. The core gameplay is very solid and easy to play along with at home. It also has one of the best in the genre to take it to another level. The only real nitpick I have is the game can be sometimes a little too slow and the Double Play round is really inferior compared to the Car Game we’d get on “Classic”, and the round also became a little cheap during the endpoint of the round of the run when they introduced the 9 space board. Those are small nitpicks on this show and nothing that should stop you from watching the episodes on BUZZR once it comes on the 30th March.