Sunday, October 23, 2022

Games In the Rain

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and one of the records I found yesterday. I'm guessing Wonderland Records was a British children's music company. They put amazing work into the two fairy tales I found. "Snow White & Rose Red" and "The Goose Girl" not only were decent adaptations of their respective Grimm's fairy tales, but they were mini-operettas, complete with full orchestras and lovely songs. I might have to look for more Wonderland fairy tale albums, if they're all as charming and fun as this one.

Hurried off to work after feeding kittens for a friend. The Acme started out busy before about 2 PM, then died hard, thanks to a combination of bad weather and the big National League Championship game between the Phillies and the Padres. I spent a lot of the second half of my shift standing around, pulling sodas and organizing shelves. It died so hard, I spent the last ten minutes of my shift returning cold items people left in the soda coolers.

(Oh, and the Phillies beat the Padres 4-3 in a wet game and are going to play the Houston Astros in the World Series Halloween week. Probably just as well the Eagles were off today. I suspect most Philly sports fans would have been downright overwhelmed to focus on two winning sports teams.)

I rode to work under soft, gray clouds that didn't do much more than look ugly. They gradually darkened throughout the day. They must have burst sometime around 2 or 3; that's about when someone at work mentioned it was raining. I emerged to roads that were wet, but not flooded. Thankfully, by 6 PM, the rain had gentled down to a sprinkle. It died all together as I crossed the White Horse Pike. It wouldn't rain again until well into the early morning hours. 

Got organized when I got home, then had dinner while watching Match Game PM. The first episode is one of my favorites from 1975. Richard and Charles pass around their wide-brimmed straw hats, claiming they're "your basic big picture hat society." It ends up on the contestant after Richard helps her with "__ Robber" and comes in handy with hiding Richard kissing her! 

Dr. Joyce Brothers and tough-guy producer and actor Sheldon Leonard join Fannie and the regulars for the next episode. The female contestant had just as much fun here with some randy answers to what the 102-year-old man doll does when you wind up his key. Richard got to help her in the end with "__ Meter."

Finished off the night with more panel game shows. They go further back on TV than almost any other game show genre. What's My Line? and To Tell the Truth ran for 17 and 15 years on nighttime and daytime respectively. I have older friends with fond memories of tuning in every week to see the mystery guest or guessing along with the panel who is the fibber. Not much changed in Line over the years besides the panel line-up, but Truth had major shake-ups in their final seasons, including letting the audience in on guessing the fibber. 

Local channels got in on the panel games, too. What In the World debuted on what was then the Philadelphia CBS in 1951. It ran through 1955 on CBS and apparently was so popular in the Philly area, it was moved to the Philly educational channel until well into the 60's. Three professors (or in this case, three professors and erudite Vincent Price) try to identify works of art from the University of Pennsylvania Museum's collection. No wonder it ran for so long. This is surprisingly good for a local show, playing up the spooky and sophisticated atmosphere with smoke and eerie music. The hosts have genuinely interesting insights on the works of art under discussion, too. 

Panel shows got randier in the 70's. The revamped Match Game debuted in 1973 and immediately became a sensation for its ribald answers and wacky shenanigans. They could be funny even when the contestants were downright awful, as in Richard Dawson's third-to-last nighttime episode in 1978. The only reason either contestant made it to the Super Match was Charles matched them each once, then matched one in a tie-breaker round.

The success of Match Game spawned imitations, most of which didn't last nearly as long as the original. You Don't Say began as a clone of Password on ABC in the early 60's. They dusted off the name and host Tom Kennedy and resurrected it in 1975 as a Match Game clone. Here, four panelists act out words and phrases they want the contestant to guess. For the bonus round, the contestant acts it out for the panelists. Not bad, and it's nice to see Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall together on the same panel somewhere besides Tattletales.

Even PBS tossed its hat in the ring for its first national game show. We Interrupt This Week from 1978 had panelists, many of them from England, guessing the answers to joking questions based after the news of the past week. Very funny, especially if you know anything about the late 70's. Host Ned Sherrin was a droll delight.

Though panel games existed in the 80's, they rapidly fell out of fashion. Most of them likely moved too slow for the changing landscape of 80's TV, and the celebrities may have been out of the budget of many shows. Alex Trebek hosted Battlestars, which had contestants trying to capture three triangles on a board after guessing whether a celebrity's answer for a question is true or false. Merrill Heatter had such high hopes for this Hollywood Squares imitation, he revived it briefly in 1983 with a new bonus round after it barely lasted from fall 1981 to spring 1982. 

Jim Lange didn't have any more luck in 1982 with a syndicated revival of his Oh My Word as Take My Word for It. Once again, two contestants faced four panelists. This time, they gave odd answers to obscure words. Contestants had to guess which one was the real definition. This would be done far better under the name Wordplay with quicker a more-game Tom Kennedy in 1987. 

Guess along with these celebrities as they changed the standards for TV from the 50's through the 80's! (To Tell the Truth comes with its original and Buzzr commercials. (Oh, and thanks to Wink Martindale and his YouTube channel for the Battlestars episode!) 

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