Sunday, August 15, 2021

We are Family

Started off the morning with breakfast and the soundtrack from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My family loved this movie so much in the 80's, it was the first feature-length movie we rented on video after Dad bought a VCR. My favorite song's always been "I've Got a Golden Ticket," Charlie and Grandpa Joe's number when they celebrate finding the all-important gold paper.

Hurried out to work after that. Work was very busy and very tiring. Cashiering takes a lot out of me. I never know what to say to people, even when they say I'm doing fine. My register suddenly stopped ringing items two hours before I finished, too. It wouldn't even weigh produce. I moved to another register after I finished one order. Thank heavens it died by 3:30, allowing me to hurry off with no relief.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. The weather was too beautiful not to. Sun warmed my back as I made my way around the traffic near the opening of the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center, but the air wasn't smothering, nor was it burning hot. It was the right kind of hot for mid-August. Recent storms really helped the plant life here. Gardens abound with late summer flowers; emerald green leaves waved in the breezes.

Arrived home to a full driveway and a fuller pool. Our cousin Amber - the daughter of Uncle Ken's son Mark - and her pre-teen daughters Ella and Lilly and toddler son Timmy joined Jodie and Rose and her tribe. My next-door neighbor brought around her new Great Dane puppy later, to the delight of the kids who ran out of the pool to pet him. I changed into my bathing suit, then played "mama and baby dolphin" with Finley for a while. By the time I got out, the older kids jumped in. I relaxed on lawn chairs and laughed at their antics.

Tried writing when I got in, but I was too tired. Opted for another cast album while I ate leftovers for dinner and made Cinnamon Roll Cake instead. Carnival! is the full musical stage version of the sweetly whimsical semi-musical film Lili. The story remains the same - a waif (Anna Maria Albergheti) is taken in by the circus when she interacts with the puppet show, thinking they're real. The bitter puppeteer Paul (Jerry Orbach) loves her but doesn't know how to say it, but Lili has a crush on the handsome magician Marco (James Mitchell). Charming and gentle, and a huge favorite of mine. I'm especially fond of Lili's "Beautiful Candy" and "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" with the puppets and Paul's ballads, "She's My Love" and "I've Got to Find a Reason."

Finished the night on YouTube, watching flop game shows in honor of Whew! debuting on Buzzr next month. I've featured Whew! a few times on this blog. It's about as peculiar of a game show as you can get, and probably one of the most complicated games out there. One player has to figure out what's the wrong word in a statement. If they get it right, they charge on to the next level. The other player can place blocks on a question to hold them back for a few seconds. If they win, they run "The Gauntlet," answering more questions listed on 10 "villain" figures designed by Hanna-Barbara. It's as strange as it sounds, but a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

I discussed the 1983 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour when the owner of the Match Game Productions channel started posting the episodes two weeks ago. The show was a surprise hit for Buzzr despite its hour run time and notorious reputation. The celebrities are frequently from NBC shows of the early 80's no one heard of then, let alone now. Jon Bauman is a hilarious panelist, but he has neither the drive nor the authority to keep the celebrities in line during Hollywood Squares. And truth be told, the shows are two entirely different beasts and really don't work together. That said, the Match Game half is still funny, and we do get a showcase for comedians like Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, and Howie Mandel who appeared on no other version of either show.

Hollywood Connection from 1977 has similar problems. It's a pretty obvious Match Game clone, right down to the orange set and drunk celebrities answering innuendo-laden questions. Amiable Jim Lange is a fine host, but he lacks Gene Rayburn's charisma and hammy acting ability. 

Most short-lived game shows from the 50's and 60's were erased...but we do have an episode of Missing Links. A distinguished person reads a story with a blank at the end. Three celebrities have to guess the blank. No wonder it didn't last. It's deadly dull. Dick Clark tries to jazz up the proceedings. 

Couch Potatoes is a syndicated variation on Remote Control from 1989. Same idea - people guess TV trivia in someone's basement - but this time, it's male vs female teams rather than three separate contestants. We also occasionally get a guest who explains a question. Marc Summers handles the far less messy proceedings.

The most recent show I covered is 1 Vs 100. Bob Saget hosted the original 2008 network version of this Who Wants to Be a Millionaire clone. In this case, the contestant isn't going up against just tough questions. They also have to deal with 100 experts answering the same question. If they can stump so many experts, they win money. Slow-moving but suspenseful, I can understand why Game Show Network attempted a short-lived revival a few years later. 

While you wait for the arrival of Whew!, check out more of the most unusual flop games to ever grace the small screen. (Missing Links comes with its original commercials; Hollywood Connection has the commercials from its Game Show Network run. And warning about Missing Links - the copy is in terrible shape, complete with numbers running on the bottom. Considering the show's age, we're lucky to have it at all.)

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