Sunday, July 10, 2022

Big Dealers at the Video Village

I got so into reading How are You, Really? this morning, I didn't have the time to finish my journal. I barely had the time to eat and hurry out. I dodged early Sunday traffic on its way to church on the White Horse Pike and just barely made it to work on time.

And that was the most exciting thing that happened all day. We were off-and-on steady for most of the entire morning. I got frustrated a few times when things went wrong in the register. I just end up feeling so bad when I make mistakes. No matter how often people say not to apologize, it doesn't stop me from feeling bad about not being more careful. A person who works at a job for twenty years should know better. I'm just glad my relief was on time, since she has a habit of not showing up when she's supposed to.

While it was humid when I got out, it was also sunny and breezy. Took the long way home down Nicholson Road and onto Atlantic Avenue to enjoy the sunshine. Instead of going straight on to East Clinton, I made a stop at a busy WaWa for a treat. Picked up a chocolate Chips Ahoy smoothie and a pretzel. The smoothie was way too sweet; think I might go for one of the fruit or Matcha smoothies next time. 

Went home and listened to the first Dick Clark 20 Years of Rock and Roll record as I changed and relaxed. I actually picked this up for "Sh-Boom," which I usually associate with the movie Clue nowadays. We also get the original Carl Perkins version of "Blue Suede Shoes," Johnny Cash's signature hit "I Walk the Line," and Bill Haley and the Comets kicking off the rock era with "Rock Around the Clock."

After the record ended, I settled in for a long nap. It was a quiet afternoon, and I was dead tired. I stayed up way too late the other night - until 5 AM! - and haven't really caught up yet. Slept until past 4:30 and was still tired when rolled out of bed.

Had an early dinner next, since I didn't really have lunch. Listened to the book-and-story Babes In Toyland while I ate. While it's not a flat-out soundtrack, it does have most of the songs. I must say, Thurl Ravenscroft sounds a lot more menacing singing "And We Won't Be Happy 'Till We Get It" than Ray Bolger! I think that was Tommy Sands doing his numbers, but they did get someone with a lovely voice for Mary Quite Contrary - she sounds especially good on "I Can't Do the Sum" and "Just a Whisper Away." That's definitely Ed Wynn in "Christmas Is Coming" and a young Ann Jillian in "Never Mind, Bo Peep." 

Worked on writing a little next. Charles finally finds out after he gives the Red King hay what the noise is in the forest. It's not Humpty Dumpty falling. It's the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the crown again. Brett has no idea who they are, so when the Red King takes off with the Red Knight to his castle, Charles takes Brett to meet them. 

Finished the night with game show episodes spotlighting Monty Hall in honor of Let's Make a Deal returning to Buzzr in two weeks. Hall started off in his native Canada, but after having lost several shows (including Bingo at Home) or seen others get mired in short runs, he moved to the US. His first hit was the charming Video Village, which he took over after its first year. This live-action board game had people running across a giant game board to pick up prizes. It gave Monty a chance to chat with contestants, and even show off his fine singing voice when he performed "People Will Say We're In Love" with a contestant. They also celebrate the 500th show on one of only three episodes currently in existence.

What Hall really wanted to do was create his own shows. He finally got Let's Make a Deal on the air in 1963. Hall calls up random "dealers" from the audience to play a series of mini-games. They can keep their winnings, or trade. Sometimes, they may get a better prize...or they may get goofy "Zonks," joke prizes that were often live animals or based around puns. 

Hall hosted Deal for over 20 years, from '63 through '86, and the shows rarely changed during his run. I chose two that are pretty emblematic of the series as a whole, a black-and-white ABC episode from New Year's Eve 1968, and what I believe to be a syndicated episode from 1971.

Like Gene Rayburn and Peter Marshall, Hall had far less luck away from his signature show. He was pretty much press-ganged into doing the 1979 Beat the Clock, the first show he hosted away from his own company since Video Village. Despite his frustration, he still does quite well leading two couples through a series of messy stunts for money.

He didn't do much better with his own creations. It's Anybody's Guess from 1977 has two contestants trying to guess whether or not a panel will answer a question in the same way as the audience. Hall is really the only good thing about this one, as the game is dull and doesn't make a lot of sense. No wonder it only lasted from June to September 1977 and the episode on YouTube is one of two known to exist. 

Split Second is a lot more fun. Tom Kennedy hosted the original 1972 ABC version of this trivia show, but that one was wiped. Hall took over for a 1986-1987 Canadian syndicated revival. The host asks a question with three answers. The contestants buzz in at once to guess the answers. The biggest winner gets the fewest guesses on the Countdown Round. Same thing, but now the contestants have to give one, two, or all three answers at once in order to win. 

Buzzr ran Split Second in the mornings from 2019 to 2020, and I have to admit, I do miss it. The trivia is a little dry, but it's fun to watch, and Monty is obviously a lot happier chatting with these folks than he was dodging stunts on Beat the Clock

Hall didn't often appear as a panelist on other hosts' shows, but he did make a rare appearance during a week on Password Plus in August 1979. Janet Lemmon was the other celebrity that week. He didn't do very well, just barely missing his first Alphabetics round. (Even his daughter Joanna Gleason would later joke about how badly he did, especially since she eventually became one of the show's best players.)

Go for a visit to the Video Village, test your ESP, and see how quickly you can answer trivia questions with TV's "Big Dealer!" (Watch out for the original commercials on the 1968 Deal. The tape for Anybody's Guess is in terrible shape with barely-heard audio, but once again, it is the one of the only episodes of that show known to exist.)

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