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Remember MTV’s ‘Remote Control’? Host Ken Ober, 52, has died

remote-control-ken-ober

People of a certain age (say, between the ages of 35 and 45) will remember MTV’s very first original non-music show “Remote Control.”

Host Ken Ober presided over a Gen X trivia game in which the contestants sat in leather recliners and holding big remote controls, answered questions about pop culture. Losers would get thrust out of the show through breakaway walls with barely a chance to say goodbye. Random junk food were thrust at the mostly college-age student for commercial breaks. Dopey skits would populate the show while Ober would crack sarcastic. Topics included “Inside Ed McMahon” and “Cartoons.”

It helped open up doors for narrator Colin Quinn (later, on “Saturday Night Live” and a standup headliner), Adam Sandler (ditto, with SNL and many many movies) and Denis Leary (”Rescue Me”).

Sadly, Ober died over the weekend, causes yet unknown. While many of his brethren did go on to bigger and better things, I really can’t say I recall anything notable Ober did post “Remote Control.” [Readers here informed me he later worked Comedy Central's "Mind of Mencia" and most recently "The New Adventures of Old Christine."]

In tribute to this fine, fine game show, which aired from 1987 to 1990, here’s an episode a contestant posted on YouTube — with commentary included. Just watch Colin sing a Foreigner song and wince.

23 comments Add your comment

jarvis

November 17th, 2009
11:27 am

Best show ever on MTV.

SP

November 17th, 2009
12:13 pm

My college days wouldn’t have been complete without it! Even got to audition. Made it through all the rounds and then lost the final question on a Andy Griffith question. Now that’s Ken’s gone, it just won’t seem right to play the segment “Dead or Not Dead?” in my Remote Control board game consolation prize. RIP.

LuAnne

November 17th, 2009
1:51 pm

This was MTV’S best show…EVER! Ken was so young, but my teen/H.S. years wouldn’t have been complete without this show! Unreal what this year has brought with Hollywood deaths! RIP Ken!

C-Stylo

November 17th, 2009
1:56 pm

I better see Adam Sandler at the funeral in a bathrobe.

Johnny DangerDawg

November 17th, 2009
2:01 pm

If MTV were any fun, they’d air a couple episodes this week. This show was so different from the slick, glossy MTV of today, it would blow kids’ minds today.

jeff

November 17th, 2009
2:05 pm

That was a great show!! I miss the good ol’ days of MTV when was actually- MUSIC and a few shows. RIP buddy. Its too bad MTV now consists of non-stop crap.

Jessica

November 17th, 2009
2:13 pm

Best show ever. I’m 29 by the way. Sing along with Colin!!!

Pablo

November 17th, 2009
2:20 pm

What was the name of that redhead? helloooooo nurse!

matt

November 17th, 2009
2:20 pm

Also did the remake of the 70’s show “Make me laugh”…it bombed, but he still had that great wit…

Rodney, please quit your job…you suck at it….nothing noteable?

Ken was a writer/producer for things like…
MIND OF MENCIA-
New Adventures of Old Christine

Ken fought lots of Demons….I will never forget Remote Control…it was a great show for those 30 somethings of us out there as kids in the 80’s….

Alex Trebek

November 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

Ober appeared in a couple of Blues Traveler videos (”Runaround” and “Hook”). Beyond that, I think he spent most of his later years behind the scenes as a writer and producer.

Everyone should eat a couple of Steak-Umms in his honor.

Amy

November 17th, 2009
3:30 pm

Pablo…the name of the redhead was Kari Wuhr.

Clay

November 17th, 2009
3:40 pm

I loved this show…wasn’t the segment “Dead or Canadian”?

Kathryn

November 17th, 2009
4:03 pm

My sister was on that show. She tried out when she was in school here at UGA. She won and got to sit in the final chair. She did not win the grand prize but got lots of cool stuff! It was a GREAT show!

Maht

November 17th, 2009
4:03 pm

I’m 28 now, and I remember Remote Control vividly…I’d rather watch and attempt to answer Remote Control trivia with my older brother instead of dumb Nickelodeon Double-Dare trivia. Ken Ober was as neutral as TV personalities get. Wasn’t super cool, but definitely wasn’t lame — I thank him for contributing to that era when MTV was cool.

Alex Trebek

November 17th, 2009
4:47 pm

They actually had both “Dead or Alive” and “Dead or Canadian”. The answer to the latter was occasionally “both”. (There was also one called “Dead, Alive, or Indian Food”.)

graham banks

November 17th, 2009
5:55 pm

I remember it being a quite tame show, even for the time. I don’t mean that in a bad way. This show ended less than 20 years ago, but watching it today I believe it would seem more akin to the Honeymooners than anything on MTV today. This was from a time when MTV represented another slice of American culture (music), unlike today, when MTV portrays a foreign universe. MTV 1990 was a world we all participated in…MTV2009 is a world of weird manufactured characters that we observe doing things we would never do, living in ways we would never live, and making choices that we would never encourage.

http://www.grahambanks.com

Chief Wiggum

November 17th, 2009
10:36 pm

Oh man, that stinks. I am of that certain age (early 40s) that I really was there for the start of MTV. Well, actually, we got it in early 1982 when expanded cable came to my town. It was a world-changer for me…seeing and hearing music I had never heard (stuff like Barnes&Barnes “Fish Heads”). And while they played mostly music, they did have “Remote Control” in the mid to late 80s, and it was awesome.

I remember Adam Sandler as the “Trivia Delinquent”, and Kari Wuhrer. Oh, Kari was so hot. Hate to see that Ken has died…and I don’t remember him for anything after this show, either.

Cheri

November 18th, 2009
8:06 am

Wasn’t Jenny McCartney on the show as well? Always in PJs?
I watched it as much as I could in the 80’s…. I remember it was on during the early evening hours… couldn’t wait to answer the trivia.

Najeh Davenpoop

November 18th, 2009
9:43 am

Kari had HUUUUUUGE cans!

Lori

November 19th, 2009
4:18 am

Ken Ober made me laugh many times and maybe he did that for you too. Please say a pray for all those who love him to be comforted. We were both born in 1957 and that made a connection for me. Ken a 1957 classic yet ready for the open road, go with God Ken Ober, that is my prayer…Lorixo…….PS: Thanks for touching my life

Jungleland2

November 19th, 2009
12:30 pm

Colin Quinn outlived Ken Ober? How did that happen?

Nick

November 19th, 2009
2:26 pm

Awesome show!! I think I might be able to find my home version of the show in my parents attic. Loved “Sing Along with Colin” and the “Trivia Delinquent!!”

Con-

November 21st, 2009
6:00 pm

Remote Control came to Walt Disney World when my Husband and I worked there, we appeared on 8 shows as the live audience. So much fun!!!