You know those luxury cars that speed past you on the highway? The vanity license plate reads something like “ALLY MNY” or “2FAST4U”. Or when the cruddiest car you’ve ever seen cruises by at speeds up to 14mph with a plate that reads “FSTLNE”? It’s enough to make your eyes roll, but did you know it was enough to keep a television audience interested for three seasons?
The opening to Bumper Stumpers.
That’s right, there was a game show all about deciphering made-up vanity plates than ran from 1987-1990. It was called Bumper Stumpers and it was a collaborative production between the Global Television Network on the Canadian side of the border and the USA. Literally, it was on USA Network in the states.
Despite the joint effort, the show tended to have more of a Canadian flare.
Contestants were presented with a license plate and a clue to help. Puzzles were sometimes obvious and sometimes a serious stretch. “PANOMAN” is supposedly the personalized license plate of Billy Joel. Well, obviously, the answer is Pac-Man. Meanwhile, “POLEEKR” is police car and “BRTHER” isn’t brother, it’s Bea Arthur. You get the idea (and, if you don’t, no worries because the players often didn’t get it, either).
The show featured two teams, totaling four players at one time. This usually translated to one person who was unusually good at the game and three people who would repeatedly sound out “HDZZO2QEFEJLS” non-stop for thirty seconds until a buzzer rang, bringing an end to their nonsense guesses. Top that with some amazing 80s sweaters and you’ve got some classic game show rerun material.
Highlights from a single episode of Bumper Stumpers.
A studio audience is often referenced, though I’m not totally convinced one existed beyond canned sound effects. With all the re-boots, re-makes, and lack of ideas in general, it’s surprising that this show hasn’t made a comeback.
This was SRSLY the premise for a GMESHO? WHTTHEFK were they thinking? Oh well, it’s entertaining just the same.