Chuck Barris’ “The Gong Show” (1976-1980) was another show I remember vaguely (but quite fondly) from when I was in kindergarten or the first grade. (It aired its original run between 1976 and 1978, and then was syndicated the latter two years.) I still remember laughing uproariously at its weird acts, and it might have been one of those shows that ended just before my 8 PM bedtime.
The idea was this — a panel of three celebrity judges would view a handful of amateur talent acts, and would bang the titular gong if an act was so bad that they decided they couldn’t allow it to continue. (Along with legitimate talent, the program deliberately fielded acts that were weird or just plain bad.) What’s interesting is that this seems like a very tame precursor of contentious current reality shows like “American Idol” or “Britain’s Got Talent,” which are still going strong since their advent in the early 21st Century. “The Gong Show” was a lot more laid back.