Sunday, August 14, 2022

Eye on Games

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast before rushing off to work and barely making it in time. That was...the worst that happened all day. We were on-and-off steady, and never more than mildly busy. Considering Sunday is usually one of our busiest days of the week, people are probably still on vacation, are cutting back on groceries, or were at church or family reunions. In fact, most of the people who came in seemed to be shopping for barbecues and church picnics. Got in and out with no fuss whatsoever.

Took the long way home from work. Another reason we were dead was likely the weather couldn't have been nicer. Lower 80's, sunny, breezy, not a hint of humidity. I had a lovely ride. While Nicholson Road was a bit busy and the White Horse Pike had some traffic, Oaklyn was quiet as can be except one other biker and a guy eating a snack on the hill between Audubon and Oaklyn.

Had a snack when I got home while listening to Like Young: Secret Songs for Young Lovers. Every song in this collection is titled or themed around youth and the young. "Blame It On My Youth," "Like Young," and "Younger Than Springtime" may not have been what actual youth were likely listening to in what I believe to be the mid-50's, but pianist Andre Previn and David Rose and His Orchestra still sound charming today.

Took a much-needed nap after I ate. I had a nasty headache, and I'm still worn out. Slept for two hours, from about 3:30 to a little after 5:30, and felt a bit better.

Went into writing next. Orson the March Hare and Charles the Mad Hatter lead Brett into the Red King's domain, with Richard trailing behind them. Brett's delighted that not a trace of the Red King is to be seen...but she does spy two familiar royal faces...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Put on Moonglow, another orchestra album, while I ate. This one is for Arte Shaw, one of the major big band leaders of the 40's and 50's. "Star Dust" and "Temptation" sound especially good here. 

Finished the night online saluting the game shows of CBS. The Eye Network pioneered many game show tropes, going as far back TV's beginnings in the late 40's. It's first major hit game show was the Goodson-Todman celebrity panel show What's My Line? Four panelists from across mediums try to guess a normal person's unusual occupation. The last or second-to-last contestant is the "Mystery Guest," a well-known celebrity who will often try to disguise their voice in some way. This 1953 episode spotlighted Jackie Gleason, still two years away from Ralph Kramden and The Honeymooners. Arlene Francis and columnist Dorothy Kligalien are among those guessing job titles; erudite John Charles Daly is the host. 

Line proved to be such a smash, CBS went to Goodson-Todman for more of the same. To Tell the Truth has three contestants who all claim to be someone who has done something unique or has an unusual interest.  The panelists here have to figure out who the real figure is. Bud Collyer hosted; Kitty Carlisle and Betty White are among those on the panel in the episode I have here. 

I've Got a Secret is similar to Line, only here, the panel guesses what unusual secret people have. They usually played this one more for comedy, especially once Steve Allen took over hosting in the early 60's. In this 1966 episode, Bob Holliday of the original stage It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman demonstrates to Allen how a man can fly. Allen, however, didn't do quite as well when he got to try it out for himself!

Groucho Marx was one of a kind, and no one would mistake You Bet Your Life for any other 50's game show. It pretty much consisted of Groucho insulting and heckling contestants before reading off a few trivia questions. The real attraction came from watching how Groucho dealt with some of the nuttiest assortment of loonies to ever flit across a soundstage, as in this episode where he sings "O Sole Mio" with two Italian sisters, one of whom doesn't speak English.

All three of the big panel shows ended by the late 60's. They came roaring back in a big way on daytime TV with Match Game in 1973. The original show had middling success at NBC in the 60's, but Goodson-Todman revived it with a larger six-celebrity panel tossing double-entente answers to salacious questions. By the time of this 1974 episode, it racked up record-breaking daytime numbers that wouldn't be seen again until the Luke-Laura wedding on General Hospital in the early 80's. 

Having had success with one sex-driven celebrity show, CBS returned to Goodson-Todman for another. This time, they dusted off their old syndicated He Said, She Said as Tattletales. Three celebrity couples answer questions pertaining to their lives together, especially their love lives. This would be another hit, usually paired with Match Game in its early years. Bert Convy normally hosted, but in the episode I have here, he and his wife Ann played and Bob Barker took over hosting.

Barker spent 35 years as the host of The Price Is Right. This one started in 1972 and is still going strong today, one of two game shows left on daytime television. Decided to save earlier episodes for its 50th anniversary next month and went with one from 1998 I may have seen in college. They went big for their 5,000 episode, offering a car with every pricing game and both Showcases.

Pyramid first debuted on CBS as The $10,000 Pyramid. Like Price Is Right, it helped make game shows safe for big payoffs after the quiz show scandals of the 50's. Unfortunately, Bob Stewart Productions re-used tapes well into the 80's, making early episodes hard to find today. I went with the remaining episode of an all-celebrity week featuring MASH stars McLean Stevenson and Loretta Swit, David Spielburg, and comedienne Anita Gillette. Former disc jockey Dick Clark keeps the proceedings moving. 

Press Your Luck was one of the biggest hits of the early 80's on CBS, and would later be popular on USA Network in re-runs as well. Three contestants answer multiple-choice trivia questions that give them spins. They use those spins on a big board filled with prizes, money...and animated Whammies, annoying little red creatures who take their money. Peter Tomarken is the genial host. Buzzr tends to focus on episodes from 1984-1985, so I went with one of the last shows broadcast from 1986.

They revived Family Feud in 1988 as the lead-in for The Price Is Right. I loved that show! I always looked forward to hearing what wacky answers the families would give today. Ray Combs was the energetic host.

After Feud ended in 1994, Price remained the only game show on the network...until they revived Let's Make a Deal in 2009. Comedian Wayne Brady and his Zonks proved to be such a perfect pairing with another comedian, Drew Carey, and his pricing games, they've been paired together in most markets ever since. The episode here is Brady's second from early October 2009. 

This is CBS. Welcome home to nutty comedians, salacious panels, wacky Whammies, goofy families, and action-packed pyramids! 

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