EVEN a year later, former game-show host Marc Summers can’t explain the manic excitement that exploded over three wild nights during Philly Beer Week 2012.
It was the return of his 1980s children’s game show, “Double Dare.” Only, in the spirit of the festive week, the live show was called “Dunkel Dare.”
The contestants were brewers, and the trivia questions and physical challenges related to beer. The crowd lined up for hours and rollicked inside as Summers gulped suds and dropped the f-bomb.
The winners, from Great Lakes Brewing, were properly slimed.
“I have zero idea what happened,” Summers told me as he prepared for the return of the show, tonight and tomorrow, at Fishtown’s Frankford Hall.
“First, I had no idea how massive Beer Week was in Philadelphia,” he said. “But then, the reaction to a 25-year-old game show . . . Can I explain it? No, other than it was just a chance to have fun.”
Indeed, there was so much magic that evening, Summers said he was reluctant to bring back the show for an encore: “I didn’t think it could be any better.”
Also, he damn near got killed in a Philadelphia taxicab wreck last August.
He was returning home from the airport. It was raining. His cabbie lost control as the cab hydroplaned across the slick surface of I-95.
Summers was thrown from his seat and his head slammed into the credit-card reader on the cab’s partition.
“I broke every bone in my face,” he said. “The fact that I’m alive is a miracle.”
University of Pennsylvania surgeon Jesse Taylor put his face back together, and Summers is still mending from the surgery. Though friends tell him they don’t notice any scars, he said that he feels swollen, and the vision in his left eye is reduced.
Summers, who has made only a few public appearances since the crash, looks at tonight as “sort of my coming-out party.”
He sounded a little nervous about going back in front of an audience. “When you’re in the public eye, people take shots at you,” he said. “But I’m just doing my thing, and I’m going out to enjoy myself.”
It’ll be a reunion of sorts, as he’ll be joined by two of his popular “Double Dare” sidekicks – Harvey the announcer and Robin Marella, his fun-loving stage assistant.
Meanwhile, the team from Great Lakes will return to defend its title against reps from Victory, Stoudt’s and Yards.
Organizers expect such a huge turnout, they’ve set up overflow space with big screens next door at Fette Sau.
The beer will flow, and the packed crowd will whoop it up over memories of afternoons in front of the TV.
From 1987 to 1993, “Double Dare” was a solid ratings hit, produced out of the studio at WHYY-TV and aired on Nickelodeon. TV Guide ranked it No. 29 in its “50 greatest game shows of all time.” With its goofy physical challenges and obstacle courses, it was a precursor to the likes of “Survivor” and “Amazing Race.”
The kids who tuned in are now in their 30s, and Summers marvels that they remember.
“We had people showing up last year in ‘Double Dare’ T-shirts, carrying photos of me standing next to them when they were 12 years old,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a chance to take a trip back to their childhood and find the things they loved.”
“Dunkel Dare,” 7-9 tonight and tomorrow at Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Fishtown. Admission is free, but expect a line.
More beer games
There must be something about beer-drinking and game shows.
One of the zaniest events during the first weekend of Philly Beer Week was “Weiss is Right,” at The Blockley, in West Philly. It was a beer-soaked re-creation of “The Price is Right,” with local beer guy Steve Mashington wearing a cheesy three-piece suit and his hair and eyebrows properly dyed white, à la host Bob Barker.
There’s more game-showlike fun coming tonight and Friday evening when the Grey Lodge Pub (6235 Frankford Ave., Mayfair) hosts “Let’s Make a Deal!” Players in costume will compete for prizes without getting “zonked.”
And tomorrow at 8:30 p.m., Philly Beer Geek holds its final round of beer-knowledge competition at the Field House (1150 Filbert St., at Reading Terminal Market).
A full calendar of 500 regional events remaining in Philly Beer Week, which continues through Sunday, can be found at PhillyBeerWeek.org, or on the free app for Android and iPhone.