Trump’s Forgotten Gameshow

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What’s left to say about Donald Trump? For a moment, let’s put aside everything but the propensity to vampirically attach his name to any old shit; that classy Midas-touch, breeding instant success with everything from failed vodka to failed steaks, to a failed ‘university’ with all the educational legitimacy of Sweet Valley High. The one thing I didn’t expect to find stamped with the Trump brand was a Bob Monkhouse gameshow. Bob’s Full House, as inferred by the title, was a bingo-based quiz, enjoying a successful run in the UK for six years, until January 1990; the same year it was adapted for American television under the title Trump Card.

Trump Card, for its single-season run — another winner! — was filmed at Trump’s Castle casino in Atlantic City, which previously hosted the TV adaptation of Yahtzee. Unfortunately, it was sold off before Mario Lopez’s Candy Crush (a real thing that actually exists) could make its home there too. In fact, the building almost went under during the filming of Trump Card, until a bail-out by chronically disappointed father and Halloween mask model, Fred Trump, with a purchase of $3.5m of gambling chips, in a move consequently deemed to be illegal and resulting in a hefty fine for the buffoon who turned a loss with a casino.

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Its opening titles give classically Trumpian images of crass extravagance, with piles of money, limousines, high kicking girls, and the word TRUMP in a big gold font, heralded by stately parping trumpets. And about that gold. As you’d expect, the whole scene is bedazzled in a sickly golden hue, with literally everything in faux-gold, from the set, the host’s little cards, and even the contestant podiums, with their names on gold plates like those on the desk of an impotent yet sexually entitled CEO. Just like the pictures of his grotesque inner sanctums, this is a toddler’s idea of wealth; golden pillars and floors and toilets; literally eating handfuls of the stuff, clogging his bowels with gold nuggets, in a futile attempt to fill the aching hole that leaves him unable to glimpse his own reflection without instinctively spitting at it.

But perhaps we, as a people, need to stop referring to Trump’s ‘gold’ obsession and call this what it is. It’s not stately, it’s not high-class; it’s the same as what comes out of your urethra. It’s piss. It’s all just piss. He built a piss mansion with piss walls, bedecked with piss, and put his name on the outside in massive, piss-coloured letters. I imagine when he first stepped in the oval office, his first call was to an interior designer. “Could you make it more… pissy?

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Trump Card was hosted by retired football player Jimmy Cefalo, a jock in a bow tie, who introduced the man himself, putting in an appearance for all of 30, contractually-obligated seconds. Reading robotically from the teleprompter with the shifty-footed ill-ease of a middle schooler giving a book report, he welcomes us to Trump Card, which is “an intelligent and challenging game, and in the great tradition of America, if you’re smart and persevere, there’s a good chance you’ll come out on top.” Ironically he stumbles over the word “intelligent,” before vanishing into the wings as quickly as he arrived.

There are no great insights to be had from this show, which, like everything else plastered with his brand, is a pedestrian, generic take on something else, only stained with pish. Contestants aim to fill their Trump Card (a bingo card) by answering various trivia questions. Confusingly, in the second round, they’re given an actual card, also called a Trump Card, but not the same Trump Card as the Trump Card they’re trying to fill to win the game Trump Card. The physical Trump Card blocks a opposing player from filling their onscreen Trump Card, by covering the screen with a giant gold T. It’s all so needlessly confusing, you have to assume there was a clause for minimum uses of his name per episode.

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The gameplay is random general knowledge on topics like movie quotes or ‘people named George,’ though there is a question about which hand to place on your heart when the American flag passes by, which likely gave a young Mike Pence a downstairs swelling that later had to be flagellated away with one of Mother’s aprons. Presuming he didn’t exit his cameo straight into a limo and order the driver to get him the hell out of there, Trump would have been smugly nodding in vindication when the white frat-guy with a part-time rock band defeated the housewife and the black lawyer to successfully win $10,000, though he didn’t bother coming out to congratulate him with one of those BDSM handshakes.

There’s no deep dive to be had here, but Trump Card does make for an interesting historical footnote; like if Pol Pot had put his name to a remake of Bullseye. It’s weird that for all his harping on about the ‘great success’ of The Apprentice, his CV has been whitewashed of the Trump TV show based on the thrilling game of bingo. In fact, so like the pastime seen in nursing homes worldwide, during the tapings, audience members were given their own Trump Card to play along, with the chance to win an enormous $10 per round. “88 – two fat dictators!”

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The Bob’s Full House format was adapted a few more times, including a 1995 rebrand as Shane Richie’s Lucky Numbers, which finally gives us a direct link between the respective works of Shane Richie and Donald Trump. Mostly, Trump Card‘s existence makes me wonder which other British game shows he could put his branding on? Touch the Truck, except instead of a truck, it’s women in elevators and on planes and on the set of The Apprentice? How about Dave Benson Phillips’ Get Your Own Back, but with a slide going into a giant vat of wee wee? Alright, that’s probably enough satire to bring down the government. PEACE.

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~ by Stuart on January 28, 2019.

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