Sunday, May 01, 2022

Showoffs and Name Games

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and bringing down the rent. The weather, at least at that point, was gorgeous for riding. The gales were replaced by soft breezes, blue skies, and warm upper 60's temperatures. Everyone must have been at church when I went to work. Even the White Horse Pike wasn't busy. 

Wish I could say the same for work. We were off-and-on crazy all day. It's the beginning of the month, and people are starting to get their money. It wasn't fun. I'm tired of fielding complaints about the switch from plastic and paper to bringing your own bags and our prices being expensive. I can't do anything about state rules or inflation. 

An older couple got into an argument with me over the bags. They don't want to buy them. They cost too much to buy in bulk. Ok, then why don't they make them? No time. They'd rather whine about how terrible the New Jersey government is. My last customers were a very annoying family who claimed they only had $100 to spend...then kept throwing in turkey burger patties and other things that brought them well over $100. And they ended up putting back half of it. Thankfully, my relief showed up in time to deal with them.

Rushed home the second I could get away, ignoring the showers that rolled in sometime earlier in the afternoon. Changed, had a snack, and went into writing. White King Gene (Rayburn) defies the Red King, telling him he'll never checkmate Brett or get his throne. The Red King (Mark Goodson) thinks otherwise. He shoves Brett at Jack (Klugman) the Red Knight and orders her sons and Richard's to be locked in the dungeon. Richard is horrified and wants to defend his king, but Gene has that same forwards-backwards memory and knows what will happen when he attempts to save him...

Finished the night online after a leftovers dinner and a shower with game shows based around charades. Charades has been fun to play for centuries, but it doesn't seem to work out well on TV.  Most of these shows didn't last long or were summer replacement shows, like Body Language. Brian Stokes Mitchell and Phyllis Diller are the celebrities in the episode I chose from 1984. Admittedly, this is the first time I've ever seen someone guess all the bonus round words and win the 10,000. Brian did extremely well, showing the dexterity that would make him a Broadway star in the late 90's and early 2000's. 

Body Language was a heavily revised revival of the short-lived 1975 Goodson-Todman show Showoffs. Most of the show was erased, but we do have the pilot episode with another Broadway star, Larry Blyden, hosting. It may well have been the last thing Blyden appeared in. He died in a car accident in Morocco less than a month after filming wrapped. Dancer Bobby Van hosted the regular show. 

Charades games were among the earliest game shows on TV. Not only were they something you couldn't pull off on radio, but they were cheap to do. All you needed was a simple studio backdrop and a bunch of people willing to act out goofy phrases and guess the answer. 

Mike Stokey's Pantomime Quiz was one of the earlier charades shows. It ran on all four networks off and on from 1947 to 1959, usually as a mid-season or summer replacement. If the 1949 March of Dimes not-for-air special I dug up is any indication, it was about as simple as you can get. Two groups of celebrities guess what the others are acting out for charity.

Pantomime Quiz was revived as Stump the Stars in 1962. Pat Harrington Jr. was initially the host, but Stokey eventually took over. Under any circumstances, it was placed pretty much the same as before. Viewers sent in goofy phrases for two groups of celebrities to act out. The episode here, featuring the cast of The Dick Van Dyke Show playing a panel of regulars, is one of the earlier ones with Pat Harrington hosting. Harrington is barely recognizable with the suit and glasses that makes him look like Robert Q. Lewis. 

Stump the Stars had short-lived revivals of its own with Celebrity Charades in 1979 and much later and even more briefly on AMC in 2005. Can't seem to find the AMC show, but the first episode of the 1979 syndicated version is currently online. It's once again played pretty much the same, only with far less time to guess.

Masquerade Party has a history similar to Pantomime Quiz. It's a relatively cheap show that achieved a "long run" only because it was another go-to summer replacement staple. This early Masked Singer prototype featured popular celebrities of the day wearing masks and costumes. The panel has to guess who is under the mask. It was revived briefly and unsuccessfully in 1974, although that version did give Richard Dawson his first national hosting job.

Charades returned to syndication with Celebrity Name Game in 2014. Amiable Scot Craig Ferguson referred two celebrities and two contestants who are friends or relatives as they attempt to mime the names of other celebrities, book or movie titles, or fictional characters. In the bonus round, the contestants have to guess the random names or places under squares on a board that the celebrities act out. It's a lot of fun to watch everyone try to figure out the words; I can understand why this had a three-year run. 

The charades games were popular enough to be adapted by our neighbors to the north, too. It's Your Move from Toronto is basically the same as Pantomime Quiz, but this time, the contestants bet on whether or not they can guess what they're going to act out. It's cheap and looks it, but the contestants are having a good time, and Paul Hanover seems to enjoy egging them on.

See if you can guess the phrases these wacky celebrities act out before the contestants do! (Look for commercials on It's Your Move and Stump the Stars. And thanks to Wink Martindale and his channel for the rare Showoffs pilot!)

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