Question: Oh, great Televisionary, I vaguely recall a game show where the contestants got a chance to play on a giant pinball machine. Who was the host and how was the game played? Thank you.


Answer: Well, I... uh...

Sorry, Jeffrey — I was stunned into pfumpfery by your shameless worship (not that there's anything wrong with that). The show you're thinking of was called The Magnificent Marble Machine and it aired on NBC's daytime schedule from July 1975 to June 1976. Hosted by Art James, it featured celebrities who teamed up with average-joe contestants to play a 50-foot-high pinball machine. Without getting into too much detail, players were supposed to light up bumpers and earn points using a regular ball and a special bonus ball in an attempt to win cars and other big prizes. Before they could do that, though, they had to defeat another contestant in an initial round, which called for them to identify mystery categories based on a series of hints.

After a short time, when the show hadn't attracted the desired following, the format changed to one where the celebs represented the contestants and did all the playing. But that didn't pull in the ratings either, and the show was canned. Before its demise, such names as Adrienne Barbeau (Maude), Earl Holliman (Police Woman), Arte Johnson (Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In), Leslie Uggams (Roots), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch) and Roddy McDowall (both the film and TV versions of Planet of the Apes) tried their hands at the table.