Sunday, February 20, 2022

Charades, Children, Hexagons, and Passwords

Started off the morning with banana pancakes for breakfast and Raisin, a musical adaptation of A Raisin In the Sun. In Chicago in 1951, Walter Younger hopes for a better life than that of a chauffeur and hopes to buy into a liquor store with his father's life insurance money. His mother would rather he used the money to buy a house and further his sister Beneatha's education. 

While some of the songs are very moving, especially Mama's numbers "Meet the Valleys" and "A Whole Lotta Sunlight," most of them don't really seem to have a lot to do with the story. There's an "African Dance" for Walter and Beneatha initiated by Beneatha's African boyfriend that has nothing to do with anything. This was a hit in 1973 that ran almost a year and won a Best Musical Tony, but it's rarely been seen since. 

My neighbor called while I ate and said she'd gotten several prospects. I took her suggestion and went online to see what I could find apartment-wise. Ironically, the only thing I ran into that I hadn't seen before was a 1-bedroom apartment open in the Castle Arms, one of the buildings we got the number for on our drive yesterday. Had enough time to write down the specifics before I headed out.

Work was steady the entire afternoon. I was cashiering in the express lane, so I mainly dealt with people picking up food for weekend birthday parties or get-togethers. One older woman gave me a hard time about bagging. Otherwise, there was really no major problems. Texted my neighbor the Castle Arms listing during my break; she mentioned that they were going to see the outside of a house I could share with Denise, who has a service dog and needs help finding a place. They forgot I was working! I haven't heard from anyone, so I don't know if they did.

Put on my Purlie cast album when I got home and put defrosted leftovers in the oven. This has almost the same background as Raisin - based after a popular play with an all-black cast that probably didn't need the music, a year-long hit in 1970, rarely heard from since. This time, the title character, a young preacher who just came home to the South in the 1930's, has to use pretty Lulubelle to get money off the miserly owner of a plantation. The owner's liberal son does everything he can to help out. The problem here is less the decent score than a story that hasn't always dated well in spots. 

(Wikipedia mentions a cable production of this in 1981 for Showtime. Apparently, many original cast members reprised their roles, including Sherman Helmsley. I might have to look for that.)

Talked to Mom after I ate. I've begun to realize just how much of a mess I've made of things. I need to stay up here, or at the least, in an area with access to public transportation, good internet service, and mental health offices...but I haven't always done my best at it. Once again, I come up with an idea, then drop it when another idea that sounds better comes along. 

I need to call the local apartment building companies about third-party guarantors, but I keep putting it off. I made a complete hash of the rental counseling appointment. I've tried to make a budget, but I keep running out of time and don't know much about spreadsheets. I have the habit of easily losing focus on things (especially online) and a hard time listening to people. That's why Rose is upset. I don't take her advice. I wasn't going to live with Mom in Cape May (and that probably wasn't a realistic idea anyway), but I should have pushed harder to get a second or better job. I dropped the idea after Target rejected me in November, and I shouldn't have. 

Attempted to apply to the Audubon Arms apartment after this...but it took so long to look up the information, it timed out. I'll try again tomorrow and call the realty companies.

Finished the night online as I worked on the application with the later games from producer Mark Goodson. Todman died in 1979, around the time Password Plus came on the air. Allen Ludden returns, at least for the first year, as celebrities give clues for contestants to guess words. This time, the clues lead up to a puzzle to solve. Super Password from the late 80's is very similar, only there's a Ca$hword mini-game between rounds for extra money and the bonus round is named Super Password rather that Alphabetics. Bill Cullen and Tom Kennedy took over from the cancer-stricken Ludden later on Plus; Bert Convy was in charge of Super.

Goodson didn't do as well with new formats. His Card Sharks came out well in two versions during the late 70's and 80's, but Child's Play and Body Language didn't work out nearly as well. Child's Play was one of their stranger shows. Adults guess words described by young children. Later, the kids come in the studio to guess words the adults describe. I can understand why this one didn't work out. Watching Bill's amused reactions to the kids' descriptions is a lot more fun than the dull and rather odd game play. 

Body Language is a revival of their short-lived charades game Showoffs from 1975. Basically, it's "Showoffs Plus." Two celebrities act out words for their contestants to guess, and the words lead to a puzzle. Whomever solves the puzzle gets the money. There's two bonus rounds. The contestant has to guess 10 words, and then 3 to earn however much money they got from their guesses on the previous round. Too bad neither Showoffs nor Body Language seem to have worked out, because I really enjoy them. Considering they did a whole "teen month" with kid contestants and celebrities and had teen celebrities at other times, I wonder if this format would have done better on on family-oriented networks like Nickelodeon or the early Family Channel.

Their one bit of luck with new formats in the 80's was Blockbusters. Bill Cullen reads off trivia representing a letter on a hexagonal board. Two family members play a lone contestant. The winners go on to the Gold Run, answering three-letter questions across the board. If they get all the way across, they win. While this did well enough in the US, it really took off in England, where it was played by teenagers and ran from 1983 to 1993. 

Other than a few shows produced for state lotteries, Goodson's last major producing efforts were revivals of two of his biggest hits in 1990. ABC ran Match Game for a year; it almost moved to syndication, but they changed their minds at the last minute. Charles Nelson Reilly (and for a few weeks around Halloween, Brett Somers) joins more urbane host Ross Schafer to deal with some extremely 90's loonies. 

The 1990 To Tell the Truth didn't even make a year. This version went through several different hosts before finally settling on Alex Trebek midway through the run. Both shows had mini-games added. Match Game had the "Match Up," a more intense one-on-one mini-game between celebrity and contestant. Truth had a game at the end where the panel tried to guess what someone really did for a living. It didn't help either show, which vanished without a trace after their runs except for brief appearances on Game Show Network. 

And once again, it's too bad, because both of these had potential. Match Game in particular could be a lot of fun. The "Match Up" segment is divisive among fans. Some say it's a welcome touch of drama in a comedy program; others find it too intrusive and complain that it breaks up the flow of the show. 

Check out the final shows in a long and storied career! (And look for the commercials from their original or Game Show Network run on many of these!)

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