Monday, November 16, 2020

In the Autumn Sunshine

Began the morning with buttermilk pancakes for breakfast while watching Molly of Denali. Molly and Tooey hatch "Operation: Sleepover" when Molly has to sleep at Tooey's house during a blizzard. They want Tooey's sled dogs to sleep inside, but there's so many! Even after his mother agrees, they have to figure out how to keep them out of mischief, all while Tooey writes a blog article on caring for sled dogs. They learn what goes on "Beneath the Surface" when ice fishing season begins on the nearby lake. They compete to see who can catch the biggest fish while their friend Nina films the aquatic life with her underwater camera. It turns out to be more useful than they can guess when Molly's fish charm bracelet lands in the water, and she and Tooey have to figure out how to get it back.

Did a quick segment of To Tell the Truth while I got ready for work. Three older women claimed to be going to college for the first time at 84. Almost everyone said it was number 3, who was the most enthusiastic about her schoolwork and why she was going, and they turned out to be right. (And bless her heart! I hope she did well. I knew a couple of people at Stockton College in the late 90's-early 2000's who were taking classes, either for the first time or finishing a degree, and were over 50.) 

Went straight to work after that. One of the baggers has the next two days off, so I'm taking her place. Couldn't have been a better day for it. Wiped down registers and the handles to the frozen food and dairy coolers for an hour and swept the store twice, but I was mainly outside, gathering carts and rounding up trash and recycling. Couldn't have been a nicer day for it. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and thought it was windy, it actually wasn't that bad, probably in the mid-upper 50's. 

It was such a nice day, I took the long way home down Nicholson Road. The area around the entrance to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center and much of Nicholson were busy with early rush hour travelers, but they all vanished once I rode over the hill and into Oaklyn. The trees finally turned gorgeous colors here, brilliant golds and yellows and bricks and oranges, while late roses and mums linger in gardens.

Met an Amazon van as I made my way to the apartment. Lauren mentioned I had two more packages coming from her. I took them into my arms and let him go on his way.

Changed, then opened my next Christmas presents. Yes, they were the Game Show FAQ and Quizmaster: The Life of Bill Cullen. They're written by the same man who did the Gene Rayburn biography I bought earlier in the fall. The FAQ is really more of a history of game shows, which I'd love to know more about after all the shows I've watched lately. Quizmaster is as lengthy as the Gene biography and will likely wait until after the New Year, when I can give it my full attention. (Incidentally, that same author, Adam Nedoff, wrote an equally-enormous biography of Allen Ludden. As much as I'd like to hear more about his relationship with Betty White, I think I'll save that one for my birthday next year.)

Watched Tattletales and Press Your Luck while looking over the books. Tattletales got southern-fried as Mississippi belle Mary Ann Mobley and her husband Gary Collins were joined by Buck Owens of the Grand Ol' Opry and his wife Lisa Todd of the very big hair and Pat Harrington and his wife Marge. Mary Ann and Gary were the big winners today, getting almost every question right. 

Press Your Luck had an unusual situation going into the game. The previous winner, a feisty little old lady, came back not because she won any money, but because she was the only contestant on the previous show to not Whammy out. She was easily defeated by a young woman who won a ton of money in the second round and hit only one Whammy early-on.

Did some writing after the show ended. Cabin boy Gary Burghoff tells Captain Gene Rayburn he and lookout Jimmie Walker spotted a ship following them on the horizon. Gene tells him to find Charles and alert him to the possible danger, and to remind him that they're having dinner together. Richard starts to pour Brett's rum as the young man leaves, but his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes...

Didn't get much further than that when Jodie called. Did I want leftovers from yesterday's pot roast? Sure! Pot roast turned out to taste even better cold. She gave me the remaining biscuits to eat the rest of the week, too.

Watched Match Game '74 while I ate. Policeman CB Farnsworth made his debut in the first episode as the episode ended. He got to see Gene happily discovering that his microphone can telescope up and down in the second.

Made Butter Pecan Cookies while Match Game PM ran. Gene and the panelists helped a very nervous contestant calm down and remember her husband's name. Whatever they did worked. She played the game beautifully once she calmed down and had help with the bonus round from Joyce Bulifant. The woman champ on Sale of the Century just kept rolling. She bought the first Instant Bargain, won the first Fame Game, breezed through the Speed Round, and got the bonus money with one second left.

Finished the night online with Quiz Show. Having read a little about the quiz show scandals of the 1950's in Game Show FAQ and run into some shows from the era on Buzzr and YouTube, I thought this was appropriate. Besides, I've wanted to see this movie since it came out, and it's currently streaming for free on The Roku Channel.

Twenty One was the hottest show on the air in 1958, making national heroes out of the champions who could guess the difficult questions asked while in an isolation booth. Herb Stempel (John Tutorro) is the reigning champion, but he's a nerdy-looking Jewish guy from Queens, and his ratings are leveling. Hoping to find someone more traditionally telegenic, producers Dan Enright (David Paymer) and Albert Freeman (Hank Azaria) turn to Columbia University professor Charles Van Dorn (Ralph Fiennes). Stempel loses to Van Dorn in a showdown the next night...but as it turns out, Enright offered him his own panel show if he threw the game. 

Angry that Enright won't deliver, Stempel finally brings his allegations to a grand jury. Congressional lawyer Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) is assigned to his case. Turns out Stempel was far from the only contestant who had the answers given to him. Most of the major champions on the show were coached on their answers well in advance. Morrow keeps pushing for their stories to get in the spotlight, though they keep hiding it. Van Doran, meanwhile, is starting to regret his part in all of it. He only wanted to get out from under the shadow of his much-loved professor father (Paul Scofield), but finds himself threatened with losing all the fame and celebrity he's gathered from being champ. Richard thinks taking down his bosses is worth the sacrifice, but he's less sure.

Slow-moving but well-acted look at one of television's first major scandals. Tutoro and Fiennes take top honors as the two very different men who desperately want to hang on to their time in the spotlight, even if they have to lie to do so. There's also excellent performances from Scofield as Van Dorn's autocratic professor father, Paymer as the smarmy TV producer who sacrifices integrity for ratings, and Johann Carlo and Mira Sorvino as the women in Stempel and Goodwin's lives who wonder just what's going on here. 

If you're like me and have any interest in the history of TV, game shows, or the 1950's, or are a fan of any of the stars involved, you'll absolutely want to get out of that isolation booth and check this out.

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