‘Just like mom’ brings back memories

As a TV-loving child, I thought my mother and I could kick butt if we ever had a shot on Just Like Mom.

Rothesay native Mark Bishop is the co-founder of marblemedia, the Toronto television and interactive media company that is revamping the classic kids’ game show ‘Just Like Mom.’

I clearly remember sitting cross-legged on the living room carpet at lunchtime watching the Canadian game show featuring three mother-child teams competing against each other. I couldn’t believe how the kids and moms messed up their answers. Didn’t they rehearse possible questions beforehand? And what about the bake-off? I mean, come on, every fan of the show had an I’m-going-to-go-heavy-on-the-mustard plan.

I don’t know what it was about Just Like Mom that I loved so much: the cheesy peach and gold set, the relentless product placement, the way the moms grimaced as they sampled the bake-off challenge delights, the lovable hosts Fergie Oliver and his wife, Catherine Swing (not that I knew their names when I was five.)

When I heard that Canadian production company marblemedia was cooking up a plan to resurrect the series, changing its title to Just like Mom”¦ and Dad, it really took me back.

Mark Bishop, a Rothesay native and fellow child of the ’80s, is the executive producer at marblemedia, which is behind several successful shows, such as The Adrenaline Project, This is Daniel Cook and This is Emily Yeung.

Bishop loved Just Like Mom. He remembers it vividly.

“You’d come home at lunch and watch it on ATV. When you happened to have a sick day or a storm day, you’d watch it,” he said by phone from Toronto. “I remember talking to friends about it afterwards. I remember scheming what the plan would be when you were on the show.”

The series, which originally aired from 1980-85, still has a huge following.

In their research, marblemedia found clips on YouTube, comments on websites and Facebook groups dedicated to the show. Reruns air daily on GameTV and Bishop said it is one of the most popular shows on that network. He said when YTV aired reruns in the ’90s, unknowing youngsters would call in and ask how they could become contestants. CTV, which originally aired the show, still gets requests for copies of episodes, he said.

“If you think about it, there were 595 episodes produced, and multiply that by three kids. So there are actually 1,800 kids out there who are now at the age of having kids who have such a connection to that show.”

And that doesn’t count their relatives, friends and average viewers of the show, who could potentially be a ready-made audience for a rebooted version.

Bishop said his company had been negotiating with CTV for a year for the rights to Just Like Mom. They see the show as a real opportunity. He even met with original show creator and co-host Swing, who signed on to be a consultant.

The hope is that Just Like Mom… and Dad will air in a prime-time slot so families can watch it together. The original Just Like Mom aired just before lunch and the contestants were between the ages of seven and 10, he said. The new version will likely feature kids aged nine to 12. It will also include fathers, reflecting the change in the role of parents since the original show aired.

The revamped show will also have an online interactive game component for viewers at home.

“Kids across Canada will be able to play many of the same games online at the exact same time to win prizes,” Bishop said. “There will be a grand finalist online with each episode and then that person will get to spin a virtual wheel and actually win something.”

At the heart of it all is nostalgia.

“There’s a comfort factor,” Bishop said. “That idea of being able to share something with your kids that was so meaningful to you in your childhood.”

Marblemedia is launching a Facebook fan page for the show with a casting sign-up area. They are asking Canadians why they want to be on the show. Potential contestants can send an email to info@justlikemomanddad.com

Plans are to start filming next summer in Toronto and launch by September 2010.

But clever kids of the ’80s who have spent years honing their bake-off skills take heed: Bishop is onto you.

“If you search online, there are actually pages where people talk about their cheat strategies if they were ever on Just Like Mom,” he said.

His company worked with game show producer Steve Sloan, who helped redevelop the show with new hooks for the bake-off round. Recipes may be tied to a theme.

A contestants may have to make her father’s favourite sandwich, for example. Parents will also score each child’s creation from the bake-off round, giving teams the chance to grab more points.

Bishop assured me there will still be some messy ingredients.

I’ll be watching for the mustard.

Andrea McAuliffe mcauliffe.andrea@telegraphjournal.com is an editor at the Telegraph-Journal and mother of two. Parental Guidance appears every other Saturday.

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