Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Rain Is Right

The sun was still up when I rolled out of bed this morning. Had a quick start with breakfast and our first Christmas CD of the season. A Broadway Christmas from Verasce Sarabande is a collection of Christmas songs from mostly Broadway shows. Most of them were cut from more familiar musicals, were written for musicals that were never produced, or are from shows that aren't well-known or never turned up in New York. Favorites from this one include the sweet "Christmas Eve" that was cut from She Loves Me, the gentle "Christmas Gifts" from a musical version of It's a Wonderful Life that's mostly been limited to regional stages, the lively chorus number "Be a Santa" from the 60's flop Subways are for Sleeping, the girl-group pastiche "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises, and a lost Irving Berlin number, "The Happy New Year Blues."

Work was busy pretty much for the entire day, even after the Eagles started playing the Giants at 1. We had a hard time keeping up with customers. Several cashiers called out or never appeared. Doesn't help that I'm dead tired, too. I've been a lot busier at work lately than I usually am in mid-November. Thank goodness my relief arrived right on time.

Jodie called me in when I got home. Did I want to share pot roast with her? Well, all right. I don't know if it was a good idea, given she just came back from Florida and should be isolating. At least the pot roast was delicious, with tasty sweet carrots and perfect soft potatoes and a salad. Yesterday was her birthday - she made this for her birthday dinner. I didn't stick around for long. The Eagles game was over (they lost to the Giants 27-17), and she was watching Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. That whole series seems like a lot of romantic twaddle to me, so I took my leave.

(I got home just in time. It started raining shortly after Jodie served me the pot roast and has been going hard, sometimes with heavy wind and thunder, since then.)

Tried to get some writing done, but I was too tired to focus. Cabin boy Gary Burghoff comes in before Richard does and tells Gene he and look-out Jimmie Walker see a ship on the horizon. He's worried that it may be an American Naval boat that's been after them for weeks. Gene says he'll tell Richard and have him steer clear of it.

Broke for dessert at 7. Had Fruit Gems while finishing Broadway Christmas and listening to Here's Love. Miracle on 34th Street gets the musical treatment here from Music Man composer Meredith Wilson. While not matching that early success, it does have some decent songs. Doris (Janis Paige) insists that she and her daughter Susan (Valerie Lee) will always be "Arm in Arm." Kris Kringle (Laurence Naismith) encourages Susan to "Expect Things to Happen" when she uses her imagination. Susan admits what she wants most in the world to sympathetic lawyer Fred Gaily (Craig Stevens) in "My Wish." "Look, Little Girl" shows how wary Fred and Doris are of each other. Wilson's hit "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" was imported here and paired with "Pine Cones and Holly Berries" as Doris sings with sidewalk carolers.

Finished the night online after a shower with some very vintage game shows. Went far back to explore the career of one of my favorite hosts, sweet Bill Cullen. Winner Takes All from 1952 seems like a simple quiz show today, with Bill asking the contestants questions and them winning prizes. It was actually the first show with returning champions, and the first to use devices to lock out one contestant while the other answered. 

Bill was the original host of The Price Is Right. This would be his biggest hit, with the first version running from 1956 to 1965. Most people who are familiar with the later Bob Barker/Drew Carey incarnation may find this one to be a little different from what they know. It's pretty much just the contestants bidding. No pricing games, no contestants coming on down, no spinning money wheels. The interesting thing here is what they bid for. Some of the prizes would be cool even today (including a massive grill), and one would be unthinkable for any game show nowadays - an airplane! (Incidentally, this has been off and on Buzzr's schedule since last year. It's currently back on Saturdays from 10:30 to noon.)

Match Game and To Tell the Truth were far from the only times Bill sat in on a game show panel. He was a regular on the long-running original version of I've Got a Secret. Here, he's joined by Audrey Meadows, pretty and perky Betsy Palmer, and sarcastic Henry Morgan. Gary Moore was the host. The first two contestants, a serial kissing mailman and a man translating the questions into Italian for his mother in Cleveland, were nothing compared to future president Ronald Regan, who kept getting up every time Audrey tried to ask him a question!

Eye Guess was one of the more popular game shows of the late 60's. Here two contestants study a board filled with names or phrases before Bill asks them a question. They have to pick out the answer on the board. If they can't remember, they say "Eye Guess," which will reveal the center square. It'll either give them the answer, or a blank. The person who gets the most guesses right wins a chance to go onto the bonus round, where they pick prizes off the board. They stop only when they run into a "stop!" panel. While no blockbuster, so to speak, this was kind of fun, and it's regrettable that the color episode currently on YouTube is said to be the only full episode still existing today. (I think at least one more or part of one may be available in black and white.)

Enjoy a taste of Bill Cullen's early career...and of TV history!

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