Sunday, September 25, 2022

Have You Ever Seen the Rain

We headed out around 9:30 this time. Dark clouds lingered overhead as Lauren pulled into the lot behind the Lee Outlets. We started off with the Gap, the closest store to our entrance. Lauren picked up tank tops here. I found a gold henley shirt. I haven't had one of those in ages, and they're always so comfortable. I usually do well with shirts at the Gap. The store seemed quiet other than the employees. We may have been the first ones there. 

We were in and out of stores for the next hour and a half. Neither of us found anything at Ann Taylor, the Loft, or Eddie Bauer. I finally bought new underwire bras at Hainesbrands. They were 25% off instead of 40 because you had to buy three to get the sale and I only needed 2, but I still needed them. My underwire bras are badly stretched out. Peered around a charming little shop called DJ's Gifts that sold toys, wooden carvings and statues, and exotic items from around the world. Lauren confirmed that DJ's and Solomon's Furniture in the building across the way moved from the Berkshire Mall when they closed. 

Old Navy just opened two weeks ago in the former IZOD/Van Heusen store. Their store was a lot simpler than either of those preppy brands, bright white and boxy. I didn't get anything, but Lauren got a few shirts. We did better in another recent addition, Forever 21. Their store was even simpler. They did away with shelves all together and had everything either in cardboard boxes or hanging up along the wall. I really liked a pair of white corduroys with pretty flowered embroidery, but I couldn't find my size. Ended up with black jeans with apples embroidered on them. 

Unlike the Cumberland Outlets, the Lee Outlets has a small food court in the center building near Sketchers. They no longer had a Subway, but the other booths - Mexican, Italian, Asian, and a local sandwich shop - were open. We both went with sandwiches. I had "Thanksgiving," turkey and American cheese with greens, tomatoes, and cranberry mayo. She had a chicken-bacon club. 

The food court has a tiny "Fun Zone" arcade next to the Asian food booth. Though there was an Alien shooting game, everything else was some type of crane. I tried a couple of them in an attempt to get stuffed animals, but had no luck. Lauren didn't do any better. We headed out shortly after she gave up trying on the larger one.

After we left, we hit Famous Footwear, Aeropostale, and Chico's, but found nothing interesting. The dirty gray clouds that threatened all morning finally burst as we left Chico's. The shower got too heavy for further mall exploring. Besides, the remaining stores were all expensive upscale designers like Polo Ralph Lauren and Talbots that we can't really afford and don't usually carry my size anyway.

Since we left the Lee Outlets earlier than planned, we had time to stop at Lauren's local Goodwill. It moved into a larger store earlier this year after Big Lots also upgraded into a larger building. I thought I found a pale-blue Eddie Bauer turtleneck that looked perfect...but I didn't read the tag right, and it turned out to be a medium. I'll give it to Lauren. She came up with a whole pile of shirts. 

Our last stops of the day weren't pleasure shopping. Lauren had a list of things her parents needed at the massive WalMart in Lanesborough. She found all of it but bags of shredded potatoes for fried potatoes with cheese. Picked those up at the Target attached to the now-closed Berkshire Mall. Went to one of her local supermarkets, Stop & Shop, for diced turnip and mouthwash. Drove into Pittsfield so Lauren could pick up the dinner she ordered from the Highland, one of her parents' favorite restaurants. 

We ate with Lauren's parents after we rolled in. Lauren and her folks enjoyed veal Parmesan with spaghetti and salads. I had turkey with an odd orange-y gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (that were probably a mix but at least were warm), and slightly mushy peas. 

Joined Lauren downstairs for the fudge thumprint cookies and apple strudel we picked up at Walmart and to play Super Mario Party after I took a shower. Once again, Lauren took Mario and I took Peach. We played the jungle-themed Thwomp's Domino Ruins tonight. Even on hard, Lauren still got the most stars and won the most mini-games. I barely came in third to Boo the ghost, though.

Finished the night online with more games from various broadcast networks. Even PBS, the public broadcasting network in the US, got in on the games. Their most famous national game is probably Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego from the early-mid 90's. Three kids compete to follow a strange crook who steals a famous landmark and return it, then run to name every country on a certain continent in the bonus round. How strange was this show? In the episode I chose, Patty Larceny somehow manages to steal Williamsburg, Virginia. Lynne "The Chief" Thigpen, host Greg Lee, and group Rockapella helps the kids with the clues.

Most PBS game shows were local versions of quizzes for high schools or colleges, or educational shows. Even New Jersey had its own high school quiz show at one point in the late 80's on what was then the Camden PBS. North Jersey high schools St. Joseph and Pequannock get put through their paces here with the help of Professor Todd Hunt.

PBS wasn't always America's fourth network. DuMont began life in the early 40's as the first network on the air, and the only one not spun off from radio. They never managed to gather as many affiliates as the Big 3 and, despite developing the now-standard practice of selling commercial time to different advertisers, instead of letting one company control each show, were perpetually in the red. They did put out several popular game shows before finally succumbing to their financial difficulties in 1956. 

The episode of Down You Go seen here may be in poor shape, but it's one of the few DuMont shows still in existence today. This cross between What's My Line and Wheel of Fortune is likely DuMont's answer to the panel shows that were wildly popular on the other networks at the time. Four celebrities try to guess Hangman-style puzzles sent in by viewers. Slow-moving and not that exciting, but just the fact that it exists at all makes it interesting.
No one tried to create a real fourth network to rival the Big 3 again until the 90's. Fox Broadcasting became 20th Century Fox's attempt to enter the television market. Most of their early game shows were syndicated programs they picked up, like my old childhood favorite Fun House. They retooled it a little to bring it up-to-date, but it was otherwise pretty much the same Double Dare imitation it had been in syndication. 

Fox didn't get heavily into the game show genre until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire hit it big in 1999. They were the first ones out of the gate with imitations. Greed had six contestants answering numerical questions. The one with the furthest answer is eliminated; the others form a team. They can answer questions for dollar amounts up to two million. The member who gives the lowest scoring answer is eliminated by the next-lowest scorer, and so on. Chuck Woolery keeps things moving and suspenseful.

Tough quiz that's one of the better Millionaire clones of the early-mid 2000's. It actually did fairly well in the ratings and only ended because Fox's new executives didn't like game shows.  I know a lot of people who grew up in the late 90's-early 2000's who have very fond memories of the original run or its later re-runs on Game Show Network.

Warner Bros and Paramount tossed their hats into the ring with new networks in the mid-90's. The WB and UPN had some successful shows before they were merged as The CW in 2006, but their non-scripted programs weren't among them. They mostly focused on cheaper reality show competitions like Dance 360, UPN's updated hip-hop version of Dance Fever

The WB did make one short-lived attempt at a Millionaire clone in 2004. Studio 7 crossed the quiz show with reality programming that had college students living together for a week, quizzing each other on the material. Each appeared in six rounds, wearing a ring they gave up if they needed help. The show apparently ran for 7 weeks; I have the intense series finale here. 

Explore TV history with these rare game shows! (And yes, watch out for a bad tape on Down You Go...but as mentioned, it's one of the few DuMont programs to survive today.)

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