Sunday, September 19, 2021

Games People Play

After I barely slept at all on Friday night, I desperately needed to sleep in. Didn't get up until almost 11; it was closer to noon before I finally got to making us Banana Pancakes. We watched more Perfect Strangers as we ate. Balki and Larry are "Piano Movers" when Balki talks his cousin into pushing a piano up 10 flights of steps to their friend Lydia's (Belita Moreno) apartment. Not only is Larry concerned about his bad back, but it seems that the piano keeps following them...

We played two games of Othello after the show ended. I found this pristine 1977 edition of the checkers-style strategy game in the pile Jodie intended for Veterans of America back in the winter. I figured Lauren and my nephews would appreciate it more and traded it for a few piles of my own donations. You have black and white chips, and have to place your chip so it turns over the chip to the other color. To my surprise, since I don't usually do very well with checkers and chess, I won both games. Lauren did help me during the first one...but I won the second one, too. 

Went out for a stroll after we finished. We were originally going to check out a small block party at a church on West Collings, a block from the business district. Turns out they were really small. They had a bounce house, a few games for the kids, a couple of food tables, and not much else. We decided there's better food elsewhere and moved on.

Ended up at Phillies Phatties on West Clinton. Shared a medium half-pepperoni, half-mushroom pizza and Pepsis (mango for me, regular for her) for lunch while watching the second half of the Eagles-49ers game. The Eagles were down 7 to 3 when we came in. The 49ers hit two touchdowns, but the Eagles were just starting to catch up when we loaded the remaining pizza into a bag. (The Eagles eventually lost 17-11, but that's a lot better than many of their games last year, and against a really good team.)

Finally decided we were too full for fancy puddings from the Puddin' Palace and strolled back to my place. At least it was a nice day for walking around. Yesterday's slight humidity was replaced by blue skies, warm winds, and dry temperatures. There couldn't have been a more perfect day in mid-September. 

Since Rose and her tribe were in the pool and we wanted peace and quiet, we played Pokemon Yahtzee Jr. first. This is a basic version of Yahtzee with Pokemon characters instead of numbers. We played for over an hour; I just barely beat Lauren, though it was close. 

Got our swim around 5. The water was a tiny bit warmer than yesterday, and even more relaxing. Lauren enjoyed it so much, she slid in and reclined on the pool steps in her clothes. Jodie came around to say "hi" and that she's putting the house officially on the market Tuesday. We'll have to clean up the apartment then. (Considering I cleaned it last Tuesday, that will basically involve me making my bed and putting away dishes and Lauren picking up her things, which she'll have to do anyway because she goes home Wednesday.)

When it got too cold for us to be lounging in water, I went right into the shower. After I finished, we played a long game of Scrabble. She won this one, but she also kept coming up with longer words. I kept ending up with lots of vowels and no consonants (and a lot of Ys). 

Showed Lauren two Match Game episodes while we played. Since we saw an episode involving a riot over an answer in 1974, I showed Lauren an even more infamous incident involving the producer not matching close answers in 1977. In this case, "school" didn't match "finishing school" after it matched "college." Richard Dawson and Debralee Scott were furious, and even Gene Rayburn couldn't keep order. Richard was far happier during a 1975 PM episode where he and Gene made a bet as to whether his "Color TV" answer would be under "Admiral __" on the Audience Match.

Finished the night on YouTube honoring producer Bob Stewart. He originally created Password and The Price Is Right for Goodson-Todman, but got tired them taking all the credit. After they rejected his latest idea for a show involving celebrities giving clues to categories, he left the company to form his own. 

That idea eventually became the Pyramid franchise, by far his most enduring hit as a solo producer. It started as The $10,000 Pyramid on CBS in 1973. It moved to ABC in 1974 for another five years, becoming The $20,000 Pyramid in 1976. CBS revived it as The New $25,000 Pyramid in 1982. I fondly remember watching the CBS version and The $100,000 Pyramid in syndication in the mid-80's. Went with episodes of 10,000 from 1973 featuring Ed Asner and Sandy Duncan and 20,000 from 1978 with Nancy Lane and Michael McKean. Dick Clark is the host of both versions.

One of Stewart's earliest shows as a solo producer was Personality from 1969. It's basically "solo Tattletales." Three celebrities - Jack Cassidy, Joan Rivers, and Flip Wilson in the surviving episode currently on YouTube - try to guess the answers to what the others will say in a pre-recorded interview. They guess how the celebrity responded to a series of questions about the celebrity in the second segment. In the third, they all have to guess how a celebrity guest answered the questions. This one is especially funny because Shirley Jones was the guest...and she and Cassidy were married at the time.  Larry Blyden is the amiable host.

Bill Cullen hosted Three On a Match, the second of six shows he did for his good friend Stewart. All of the episodes currently on YouTube are of the second format, where the big Match Board has images on it and can allow the contestants to win prizes. We also get to see The Big Match, a mini-game giving contestants a chance to win extra money by matching two halves of a dollar bill. Geoff Edwards makes a cameo appearance towards the end of the show to plug his own program, Jackpot

Cullen also hosted Chain Reaction in 1980, which would be his last with Stewart. Here, four celebrities and two contestants call out letters to form words that connect to other words. The first to finish the connection wins. The bonus round would be altered several times during the course of the show's short run; I believe this episode has the second version, with the slightly increased earnings. 

Apparently, Stewart still had Chain Reaction and its "Instant Reaction" bonus round on the brain. Three years later, he debuted Go, a show based around that concept. Here, it's two celebrities (Lynn Redgrave and Richard Gilliland) with four contestants. It's kind of a cross between Pyramid and those "pass the gossip" line games. Four of the team members give clues to a word; the contestant guesses it, rings a bell, and moves on to the next word. It was actually kind of fun, and it's too bad it didn't last longer. Former weatherman Kevin O'Connell was out of his element as the host.

Stewart's last original solo show before his retirement was Double Talk from 1986. Supposedly a revival of another short-lived show of his Shoot for the Stars, it's more-or-less Pyramid crossed with the fill-in-the-blooper of Whew! Celebrities help their contestants help figure out what phrases some similar words represent. The final round is almost a total Pyramid imitation that had the contestant filling in blanks written on "Double Talk" boards.  A bad time slot coupled with ABC's desire to get away from game shows doomed this one; smarmy actor Harry Polic III was hardly the right host to drum up excitement for any of this.

Climb to the top of the Pyramid with the solo creations of one of the most beloved game show producers of all time! (Look for the original commercials on Chain Reaction and Three On a Match.)

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