Sunday, April 11, 2021

Little April Showers

Began the day with Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes for breakfast and one of my two musical eBay acquisitions this week. I've wanted more of the Decca double-operetta CDs for years; finally found the Roberta/Vagabond King CD for a good price. Listened to Roberta this morning. Kitty Carlisle duets with Alfred Drake on "You're Devastating" and "Lovely to Look At" and performs a gorgeous "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." Paula Laurence gets to have fun with "I'll Be Hard to Handle," and Drake joins her for a favorite of mine, "Let's Begin." 

Rain poured down, even as I dashed for the garage. I originally planned to ride my bike, but it was getting too late and too wet. I ended up calling Uber. They came in ten minutes, but I already called them later than I should have, and the GPS tried to direct the driver to the long way around Audubon. Even when I turned him back onto Nicholson, he still went through the wrong entrance, and I was 10 minutes late.

Work could have been worse for cashiering. We were steady, not overwhelmingly busy like the past week. The continuing gloomy weather may have scared a lot of people off. We're also between holidays now, and many families likely did their major food shopping last week. It slowed down enough by 3 for me to shut down without a relief.

After what happened this morning, I decided I was better off walking home. By 3, the rain was long gone, leaving gloomy gray skies and a warm, humid day in its wake. Everything is so beautiful out there now. Grass waved in glistening carpets of emeralds and diamond raindrops, surrounding tulips in every color of the rainbow and fresh-smelling lawns. I greeted a former co-worker who was working in her garden (she was transferred to Runnemede) and passed people sitting outside and inside at Tonewood Brewer

Went straight into writing when I got home and changed. Richard admits to the ladies that he's only passing through. Debralee is very impressed. Lee Merriweather keeps trying to find out from him what his intentions are and how he took down the bandits.

Listened to The Vagabond King while I worked.  Roberta's modern setting and musical comedy status are replaced by a more typical operetta, based of the play If I Were King. Drake stays on to play Francois Villion, who becomes King of France for the day and helps them defeat the Burgundians. Mimi Benzell is the lady who falls for him and gets to sing the show's most popular ballads, "Someday" and "Only a Rose."

Jodie came by around quarter of 5 with a pizza box. She bought a small pizza, but couldn't finish it. I was more than happy to do it for her as an early dinner.

Switched to Make a Wish while having dessert around quarter of 7. This 1951 Broadway show was an adaptation of the play and film The Good Fairy. Janette (Nanette Fabray) is tired of being a lonely orphan and leaves her tour for a life of excitement in Paris. She befriends a wealthy millionaire and a handsome but poor lawyer, then tries to get a job for the latter with the former. Most of the best songs go to her friend Poupette (Helen Gallagher) and Texan dancer Ricky (Harold Lang), including "Take Me Back to Texas With You" and "Tonight You are In Paree."

Finished the night on YouTube after a shower. Wacky stunts go back a long time in game shows. One of the earliest hit game shows was Beat the Clock with Bud Collyer. Couples, and sometimes families, from the audience play a stunt. If they get the stunt in a certain amount of time and the lady can organize a saying correctly, they win a prize. It may be simple, but the stunts are still hilarious even 70 years after its original broadcast.

Bob Barker got his start in game shows with Truth or Consequences. Here, the stunts are a bit less messy, usually involving something like the ladies in this episode who guess what the "average" man's height and weight is, then goes to find a man who fits their descriptions and see what he says. It's just as funny to see what people come up with. Some later weirder stunts like people racing in huge gowns almost makes this an early form of reality TV.

By the 80's, most game shows involving stunts were for kid audiences. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my sisters and I adored every version of Double Dare that came down the pike. I went with an episode of the original show from 1988. It's the same as every other version - kids guess trivia, then dare the other team to answer a question. If they don't know, they have to take a messy physical challenge. The game ends with a wild obstacle course filled with stunts like the giant hamster wheel and a slide into goop. If the kids can grab all 8 flags, they'll win a big prize, usually a trip. Marc Summers is the host for most incarnations of this franchise. 

(Incidentally, the original Double Dare has a local connection. It was filmed at the PBS WHYY studios in Philadelphia before moving to the Nickelodeon Studios in 1989. The show's long-time announcer Harvey was even a former Philly disc jockey.)

We were equally big fans of Fun House in syndication and on Fox. Similar set-up - kids answer trivia and earn points by doing messy stunts. The bonus round involved two kids running through a huge house-like maze with big tags hanging in them. Most of the tags have money, but some have prizes, and one tag has a big trip or a more expensive prize. Energetic redhead J.D Roth kept kids going through the obstacles. 

The show proved so popular with older audiences, it briefly spun off College Mad House in 1989 and 1990. Greg Kinnear lead two teams of college students through raunchier stunts and a house set based on a frat house. Of course, I had to go with the episode that pit local school Penn State against their Keystone State rivals the University of Pittsburgh.

Masters of the Maze from 1994 is a more complicated version of Fun House. It even retained JD Roth in its first season. The kids first have to guess what a distorted picture is as it gradually clears, then answer a related question. In the next round, one kid wears a suit that allows the other to give them commands to lead them around the maze and find Power Sticks. The kids who run through the maze in the fastest time get to go up the Prize Mountain and shoot monitors with "laser" weapons to gain prizes. Very strange game, but fun to watch in an odd way, with darn cool sets for a low-budget Family Channel show. 

Step into spring while watching adults, kids, and families alike brave green slime, maze mirrors, and giant car washes!

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