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I wish more bars would put the Game Show Network on in the afternoons. Over the past couple years, I’ve really taking a liking to Steve Harvey as host of Family Feud, specifically because his interactions with contestants reveal that he is giving the exact amount of shits required to host Family Feud, no more. I never pay attention to GSN’s programming schedule, but I know I’ve zoned out over the top of a Jack and soda wishing I could read Steve Harvey’s mind while he’s asking Bible Belt moms to name a place where kids like to eat or whatever.

Unfortunately, when I sat down at the bar at Home Plate Sports Bar, GSN was running episodes of Deal or No Deal. You remember that show, right? Where contestants try to guess a dollar amount secreted inside silver briefcases or some such? Ten years later, I still don’t think I fully understand how you play. Nevertheless, I resigned to watch, though show made me wistful for reruns of Press Your Luck.

I don’t know why, but I never dug Deal or No Deal. Howie Mandel was fine, but the game’s drama always felt kind of artificial, especially since the action is so static. Apart from the stage design, there’s little flash, unless you count the cleavage from the models holding the briefcases. That’s cool for a little while, but if you recall, Deal/No Deal’s initial running time was a whole hour (minus commercials, of course). That’s a long time to watch babes unlatch boxes. And even though the show had a giant wheel, it was used only to select the contestants. When you compare this to the tension and the if-I’d-only-spun-it-harder hindsight intrinsic to avoiding the “BANKRUPT” sliver on Wheel of Fortune, I dunno. I just think Deal or No Deal is boring, no matter how much Howie makes fun of the players. And the music sucks, too. I know it’s tough to beat the theme from $100,000 Pyramid, but it’s almost like Deal/No Deal doesn’t even try.

Still, the game show is better than no game show at all. I watched form the bar, sipping on a Budweiser kept cool by the koozie provided by Angela, the daytime bartender. I’d been to Home Plate a couple times before, and I remembered her specifically for her friendliness –– if you could think of a textbook model of older lady bartender affability, Angela would be the picture found after “See Fig. 1.” She was chatting up the regulars, a couple of gray-bearded gents getting out of their respective empty nests for a few beers. On the TV above the bar, Howie guided a high-strung brunette through the nerve-wracking process of picking a silver case. If you’ve ever had to be around someone who is coked-up and trying to decide where to go for dinner, this is sort of like what this chick was like.

At one point, Howie shook his head, smirked, and asked her, “Do you even know how to play this game?” She admitted that she did not, not really. Who could blame her? I thought. My interest started to drift, and eventually I unglued my eyes from the TV. I gave Home Plate a good look. The other time I’d visited was in the middle of a lengthy day-drinking session, and all I really remembered was the place looking small. And while my dimensional impression remains the same, I took in details like the room’s tidiness, the home plate autographed by Rafael Palmeiro and framed by neon, the neatness behind the back bar, and the tastefully arranged display of top-shelf liquors and available beer bottles. A couple of pool tables sit in the middle of the room, and there’s a pair of 8-liner games and an internet jukebox –– in other words, plenty of things to keep you busy when a game show is subpar.

I stayed long enough to watch the contestant lose. Given the way she’d been excitedly lurching over the Plexiglas podium, I thought she might break down into torrential tears. But she didn’t, waving into the camera as Howie closed out the show. As I walked out the door, Angela said, “Come back and see us! Hope you have a great day!” It’s that kind of personal touch that makes a dive bar worth visiting, Game Show Network or not. –– Steve Steward

 

Contact Last Call at lastcall@fwweekly.com.

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Home Plate Sports Bar
3137 Alta Mere, FW. 817-732-5190.

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