Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Kissing Bandit, the Feud, and the Matches

Started off the morning with breakfast and the 1997 Broadway revival of 1776. This was a surprise hit that ran a year, and I can hear why. Bret Spiner is a dynamic and full-throttled John Adams; Linda Emond is also excellent as his sensible wife Abigail. Their "'Till Then" is a pleasure. I also like "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve," and Gregg Edelman roars an especially strong "Molasses to Rum." 

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning. Ira has his reasons for turning up at the party, and it's not entirely getting Bart out of the hallway. Someone spied mice in the hall, a big fat female and male mouse, and he's worried they may have shown up at the party. No one's seen any mice, and Gene says he'll keep an eye on their cheese.

Broke just in time to rush to work. Spent most of the afternoon in a register. We were off-and-on busy, often with long lines and  no help. It could have been worse. We're lucky the Eagles play tomorrow night. They actually pulled me to push carts for a half-hour at one point. The afternoon bagger never called or came in. At least the weather was decent. Cold and blustery, but also sunny, and a lot closer to normal for the season than it has been. 

Many of my customers weren't nearly that pleasant. One woman kept giving me a hard time about prices, fussing over every clearance item she bought. She kept claiming the 50% off manager's coupons on the meat hadn't taken the right price off, though it did. I sent her to customer service, so they could tell her the same thing. Another woman threw a fit because she didn't understand about our rewards program. I didn't explain it well enough. 

Needless to say, I rushed home after that. Had dinner while listening to the soundtrack from Snow White and the Three Stooges. Many Stooge fans find this charming figure skating fairy tale to be too sweet and lacking in slapstick, but I think it's adorable. Some of the songs aren't bad, either. Snow's (Carol Heiss) wistful ballad "Happiness" is lovely, and Mel Blanc as the ventriloquist's dummy Quinto gets "I'm In Love" after his human Quatro (Edson Stoll) falls for her. There's also a song for the Stooges on the first side I suspect may have been recorded but not used, as they didn't sing in the film.

Finished the night online with a tribute to Richard Dawson. Dawson started out as a comedian in his native England before coming over to the US in the early 60's. He bounced around in a few shows before joining the cast of Hogan's Heroes in 1966 as the show's wisecracking British prisoner and thief. 

His real metier, though, was game shows. Sadly, most of his earliest game show appearances, including as a judge for the music show Juke Box Jury in England, were lost to the ravages of time and tape erasure. Started off with the short-lived 1970 revival of the comedy show Can You Top This? Dawson joins fellow hams Morey Amsterdam, Jack Carter, and Paul Winchell and his dummies to see if they can top jokes sent in by viewers. Wink Martindale keeps the proceedings moving.

Goodson-Todman were impressed by his wit there and in several unused pilots and brought him in for another short-lived revival, this of I've Got a Secret in syndication from 1972. Richard was a regular panelist, and he really livened up the show with his wit and joking around. While his reaction to the first lady is pretty funny, the real reason I went with this one is the bit of video game history Rod Serling shows off to host Steve Allen near the end of the program.

That led Richard to appearing on a far longer-lasting revival. He became one of the three main regulars for the smash 1973 Match Game, and the only one to be there from the beginning. His suave charm and sly humor contrasted nicely with crusty Brett Somers and fussy Charles Nelson Reilly. At least in its early years, he could be counted on to throw out a joke...but his answers were just as often right, as in the infamous "trench hand" daytime episode from 1975, and the "burns & cuts" nighttime syndicated episode from later that year. Host Gene Rayburn never grasped that you don't bet against Richard, especially in the Audience Match!

Even as Match Game picked up steam, he got his first national hosting gig with the 1974 revival of the 50's show Masquerade Party. In this early non-singing Masked Singer, a celebrity panel has to guess who is dressed up as a character in makeup and a costume. (And interestingly, Reilly also turned up in the one episode currently available online.) 

Undaunted by the failure of Masquerade Party, Richard begged for another chance to host. His agent even threatened to have him withhold his jokes on Match Game if he didn't get one. He finally got it with Family Feud in 1976. We get to see the pilot here, with a far more cramped set but an assured and polished Richard.

Richard didn't start infamously kissing the female contestants until later in the run. He claimed he did that to make them feel more at ease. This was controversial even then, with many people calling him on it. It didn't help his raging ego, which had gotten worse when the show became popular. He finally dropped out of Match Game in 1978 after much bitterness to focus on Feud...and proceeded to anger the producer there, too. 

He did better on other people's shows. One of the few remaining episodes of Password All-Stars from 1975 is the finale of the celebrity championship. Richard plays against Betty White, Hal Linden, and Bill Bixby in four rounds. He proved to be just as good coming up with words as he was with matching them. Check out everyone's words (and tones of voice) for "Hallelujah!" 

The celebrity gossip show Tattletales had Richard, Bob Barker, and Jack Nartz appear with their significant others for a week in 1976. Each man took over hosting the show for a day so actual host Bert Convy could play with his wife Ann. Richard actually did very well, especially with the ladies' questions!

After Feud ratings declined in the early 90's, they brought Richard back to help revive the show in 1994. This may have been a nice gesture, but it didn't really work. The show had gone through several changes by that point that added unnecessary elements to the game, including being expanded to an hour. Richard himself hadn't hosted or done much of anything besides help take care of his new daughter for years, and he wasn't nearly as sharp as he had been. Richard's return didn't really help a whole lot, and Feud finally ended its years on network TV in 1995.

Let's play the Feud and match wits and answers with everyone's favorite English charmer! (Thanks to Wink Martindale for Masquerade Party. Can You Top This? is in two parts, and that and Masquerade Party have numbers on the screen, but they're the only episodes known to exist. Look for the original commercials and the ones from their Game Show Network runs on Password All-Stars, Can You Top This?, and the 1994 Family Feud!)

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