Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Strangest Games Ever

It was an absolutely glorious morning for a ride to work. Sunny, breezy, already in the upper 50's at quarter of 9. Pretty quiet all over, too. Not even any traffic on the Pikes. Everyone must have been at church or spending their last day of vacation sleeping in.

Work wasn't that busy, either, especially for a Sunday. It did pick up a little later in the afternoon, by which time we had plenty of help. It was so dead, at one point, they even pulled me to shelve loose items. It slowed down enough by 4:30 for me to shut down with no relief and no need for one.

Good thing. I needed to pick up a few items I forgot yesterday. I love blood oranges; for some reason, they're cheaper at the Audubon Acme than the Westmont Acme. Had a free digital coupon for a small square box of generic Acme tissues and a dollar off Crest mouthwash. Restocked low-salt Jiff peanut butter and buy one, get one floss. 

Headed straight home. Changed and did a few chores, then listened to some of my recent record acquisitions while working online. I suspect "Tinkerbell Records" is an offshoot of kids' record company Peter Pan. I recognized one of the five fairy tales listed on the album. We had a slightly longer version of the Peter Pan Cinderella in the early-mid 80's. Goldilocks was especially cute, with a sweet-sounding Baby Bear who sounds like too much of a teddy bear to scare Goldie into running home!

Moved to Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits II while eating leftovers for dinner. I got this one from a friend. While Manilow's songs weren't doing quite as well in the early 80's as they did in the 70's. he did have hits with "Somewhere Down the Road" and "I Made It Through the Rain," along with his version of "Memory" from Cats

Worked on writing while listening to the soundtrack of Snow White and the Three Stooges. I actually consider this charming Stooges fairy tale from 1961 to be a bit underrated. You can't see their routines on the recording, but you do get some of the decent songs, including "A Place Called Happiness" for Snow White and the chorus number "Once In a Million Years."

Finished the night on YouTube honoring game show producer Jay Wolpert, who passed away back in January. He had his first taste of game shows as one of the big winners on the Art Fleming Jeopardy! in 1969. Alas, his stint on the show doesn't survive...but apparently, his trophy remained on his mantel for the rest of his life. 

He must have really enjoyed his experience on Jeopardy, because he'd remain in game shows for the next three decades. He started out as a producer of he revived Price Is Right from it's debut in 1972 to 1978. I dug up the half-hour episode from 1974 with the first-ever Double Showcase Showdown win. He also created the isolation-booth trivia show Double Dare with Alex Trebek in 1976. 

Wolpert formed his own production company in 1979. He tended to favor complicated shows with elaborate sets that were fun to watch, but never seemed to last long. Whew! and Hit Man are cult favorites in the game show community that are really fun to watch, but Whew! barely lasted a year in 1979-1980, and Hit Man only made a few months in 1983. Given Whew! seems to be going over well on Buzzr, I'm crossing my fingers they can get Hit Man and the 1988 celebrity word game Blackout eventually as well. 

Rodeo Drive might make a nice pairing with the 90's Newlywed Game or Supermarket Sweep, especially since it appeared with the latter for a few months on Lifetime in 1990. Comedienne Louise DuArt leads three contestants through two rounds of trivia relating to celebrities of the time. The winner goes on a shopping spree similar to The Gauntlet on Whew!. Here, though, they have to guess whom people are talking about to cardboard cut-outs. It's a lot more fun than it sounds, and DuArt does some hilarious celebrity impressions. 

Wolpert returned briefly in 1994 for a new nighttime syndicated Price Is Right. The wheel is replaced by the three winning contestants guessing a price. Only one goes to the final Showcase. There is one showcase, and they win it by more-or-less playing a slightly harder version of The Range Game. It proved to be too different from its parent, and host Doug Davidson tried a little too hard to drum up excitement. It barely made three months.

He finished up with two shows on The Family Channel in the late 90's. Shopping Spree went over well enough to be his biggest (and only) hit, lasting two years despite the cheap production. Wait 'Till You Have Kids wasn't nearly as well-received. Three parents try to guess which advice on dealing with kids and teens a noted expert would choose. Frankly, the "expert" answers were often far from the most appropriate for the situation, and the entire premise was very poorly implemented and just in bad taste. Even cute kids giving their own filmed answers ala Child's Play couldn't save this one. 

Explore Jay Wolpert's wild world of giant boards, blackouts, bloopers, animated openings, and celebrity shopping sprees with these rare shows! (And look for the commercials on many of them, including the 90's Price Is Right episode.)

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