Sunday, October 16, 2022

We Need a Little Games

Started off the morning with breakfast and the original cast album for Mame. Lansbury really made a splash on Broadway in this massive follow-up to Hello Dolly. Mame Dennis adopts her brother's son Patrick into her wild and eccentric world. He's eventually taken to boarding school, just as she's hit hard by the Great Depression. Her attempts at appearing on the stage with her friend Vera Charles (Beatrice Arthur) and working as a saleswoman don't work out, but the latter does introduce her to the handsome and wealthy southerner Beau. She marries him, and Patrick grows up reading about their exploits. After Beau passes away, she returns to New York...but Patrick is all grown up and about to marry a snooty Connecticut debutante. With help from Vera and Patrick's former nanny Agnes (Jane Connell), Mame reminds Patrick that life can be a banquet when you open your eyes to different people and experiences.

A smash hit in the mid-60's, this is probably Jerry Herman's second-best-known score after Dolly. It produced the holiday standard "We Need a Little Christmas," the big ballad "If He Walked Into My Life," and the rousing, south-celebrating title song. Everyone toasted Lansbury in the title role, and she's still associated with it, especially in New York. A failed revival with Lansbury in 1983 probably scared people away from this title since then, but I'm hoping the relative success of Funny Girl on Broadway now will lead producers to dust off other forgotten 60's musical hits. 

Didn't even finish the album before I rushed off to work. Work continues to be a pain. I'm so uncomfortable cashiering. Everyone says I do fine, but I don't feel like I do fine. I get frustrated and overwhelmed when things go wrong. I don't know how to explain things to people when they're upset or how to talk to them when there's a problem. 

And the next person who whines to me about having to use and buy non-plastic bags will get a box of them shoved down their throat. I can't help it if no one can remember them. Pack your stuff in the parking lot if you left them in your car. Carry packable ones in in your purse or pocket. People used to complain about how flimsy and small the plastic bags were and how they could never get them open. If they don't want plastic or cloth or vinyl bags, what the heck do they want? 

Picked up a few things after work. Grabbed more of those Fruity Fun granola bars on sale and a box of Kind granola bars. Found more tasty fudge-topped shortbread cookies on the bakery clearance racks, along with corn muffins for work this week. Tried to stop at WaWa on the way home, but you apparently can't make deposits in their ATM machines.

Went straight upstairs and into dinner and Match Game '74 when I got home. Bert Convy got more than a little crazy after Richard helped the contestant win, including rushing down and nearly making out with Louisa Moritz. Cleaned up during Match Game PM. Gene had to fix Joyce Bulifant's microphone in the first episode. Bill Macy joins in on the second to watch Brett and Betty White trade quips and Richard try to figure out "__ Beans" in the Head-to-Head.

Speaking of PM, I finished the night with more syndicated game shows, these made directly for the syndicated market. While most syndicated game shows were adaptations of daytime shows like Match Game and Wheel of Fortune, some were created just for independent stations and the early evening hours that the networks didn't control. One of the bigger syndicated hits in the late 70's was The Cross-Wits, a cross between crossword puzzles and Password Plus. Two celebrities help a contestant solve a series of crossword clues that lead to a subject. If they guess the subject, they win the puzzle. Nipsey Russell was perfect for this game; he's joined by Rita Moreno, Jack Reilly, and Misty Rowe. Gentlemanly Jack Clark presided here.

Tic Tac Dough also made it big in syndication around the same time. This is one of the few game shows to do better when it was syndicated. Its network run barely lasted a few months on CBS, but it ran from 1978 through 1985 in syndication. Wink Martindale leads two contestants through an intense quiz show that involves answering questions on a tic-tac-toe monitor. I loved answering trivia with contestants and hoping they avoided that scary roaring dragon in the bonus round!

Syndication's been around since television began. The market really started to take off as more independent networks debuted in the late 50's and early 60's. More stations got in the game, creating shows for that market like The Big Payoff. This revival of a network show from the late 50's has two couples competing at New York's Tavern on the Green for a full fashion wardrobe for the lady, including a mink coat. Host Bob Paige would later go on to be a political analyst. 

Most syndicated games tended to be simpler and lower-budget, like The Movie Game from 1969. We once again have four celebrities helping contestants win money. In this case, Dick Martin and Dan Rowan at the height of Laugh-In's fame join Greer Garson and a young Sharon Farrell to answer trivia on the latest movies, then act out scenes that reveal a title or subject. Cute if you know about the movies from this era or want to hear gossip about these stars; boring if you don't.

Most syndicated game shows tended to run less than a year. The Challengers from 1990 with Dick Clark is a revival of The Who, What, and Where Game and is an obvious Jeopardy clone, right down to people making bets on their answers. The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime from 1986 with Jim Lange imitates Wheel of Fortune, with its Hangman-based main game. It apparently started well, but petered out when it couldn't stand up to the competition (including Wheel).  (It seems to have done slightly better in England, running four years under the name All Clued Up.) 

Syndicated shows continue to be released for streaming and MyTV and other networks even in the new millennium. Street Smarts had two contestants decide from watching interviews if one of the people interviewed would give a correct answer or an incorrect one. They occasionally throw a dunce cap on a contestant and make them answer the question given to the interviewees themselves. This proved to be a surprise hit, running from 2000 to 2005 on the strength of those goofy answers and people's reaction to them. (Germany really loved it; their version still runs to this day.) 

Go independent with these rare and unusual bits of game show history! (Watch out for a bad tape on the ultra-rare The Big Payoff and the commercials from its USA run on Tic Tac Dough.) 

(Oh, and the Eagles started out well against the Cowboys in the first half. They were up 20-3 by halftime. The Cowboys caught up in a big way, but the Eagles managed to get one last touchdown that won them the game 26-17.)


Linda said...

The original WHO WHAT OR WHERE game used to be on after JEOPARDY in the early 70s. I remember it particularly because my 11th grade English teacher made an appearance on the show! She did well until the final question, which she did not guess--the funny thing was that they let us watch the episode in class and all the kids knew the answer!

Emma Redmer said...

Cool! There's one episode of the original on YouTube - I watched it earlier this year. I enjoyed it and "The Challengers" and wished the latter ran longer.