Sunday, January 08, 2023

Lost and Found Games

Got a quick start after working on The Prisoner and the Castle this morning. I'm so tired, I kept nodding off. Barely had time to grab a very quick breakfast and hurry off to work. At least the weather remains decent. It's still off-and-on sunny and in the mid-40's, though the wind's died down.

When I came in, it wasn't busy at all. I spent my first hour at work returning loose items. It didn't pick up until nearly 11:30, when I had to go in for someone's break. After it picked up, it never slowed down. We had lines down the aisles until the Eagles-Giants game started at 4:30. Even after that, we were off-and-on steady. We still have no help, too. I heard someone say they're having problems finding people to work nights. I had no relief and barely got off in time. 

There were things going on at the house tonight, so I ate out. I originally planned on eating at the Oaklyn Manor Bar, but apparently their dining room closes early on Sunday. Common Grounds does, too. Ended up at Phillies Phatties by default. Had a slice of cheese pizza and a slice of mushroom while watching the Eagles game. I came in around the middle of the 4th quarter. The Eagles were up 19-9. They got a field goal as I finished the cheese slice. Three pre-teen boys wrestled and horsed around at a table on the other side of the room. The one pre-teen girl checked her phone and mostly ignored them.

(Oh, and I missed the last two minutes or so, but apparently, though the Giants did get a last-minute touchdown, it wasn't enough to win the game. The Eagles won 22-16, enough to make them the number 1 seed in the NFC. The Giants are also in the playoffs; they'll go up against the Vikings on Saturday.) 

Went straight into Match Game PM when I got home. Bill Macy finished out his only week on the show with this episode. Elaine Joyce tries to excite the audience about her answers (and advertises her husband Bobby Van's now mostly-lost charades show Showoffs in the opening). Richard doesn't have as much luck with "__ Beans" in the Head-to-Head.

Also saw a commercial for Buzzr's next marathon. They usually run their Lost & Found day on a Sunday in late September, but it didn't appear last year...and now we know why. They expanded it to the entire Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and will include pilots and episodes of rare shows, including several episodes of the Jack Nartz/Gene Wood Beat the Clock from 1972. 

Beat the Clock isn't the only show with missing or rare episodes. More than almost any other genre, game shows are prone to being lost. NBC and ABC erased tapes as late as the early 80's. (CBS largely stopped in 1972.) Some syndicated companies erased their programming into the mid-80's! The original 1974-1975 Jackpot with Geoff Edwards and 1972-1976 Gambit with Wink Martindale were among the victims of tape reuse, with one episode existing of the former and about six of the latter. The men-vs-women panel show The Better Sex from 1977 only has four episodes remaining. 

At least they were filmed. Live game shows from TV's earliest days fared even worse. If they were recorded at all, it was on kinetoscopes - early film dubbings - that were often reused for their silver content. This episode of the daytime Tic Tac Dough from 1958 hosted by Jack Barry is one of three episodes of the infamously rigged 50's version of that program known to exist. 

Thanks to TV's spotty preservation of its own history, we're missing a lot of "firsts." Alex Trebek's first American show, The Wizard of Odds, had vanished completely except its opening theme song until a full episode turned up in October. Dennis James hosted some of the earliest hit shows, but many of them, like the early proto-Wheel of Fortune/Press Your Luck mash-up Beat the Odds from 1962, are either gone completely or have few episodes remaining. (Note the inclusion of "The Whammy" on the board. Yes, this was made by the same company that would go on to do Press Your Luck 20 years later.)

Tape erasure isn't the only reason shows go missing. The producer of the 1983-1984 version of Dream House apparently lost all the master tapes for that show in a flood. To be honest, the show is mostly another Wheel of Fortune imitation, but it does have a nifty bonus round with people guessing numbers to open the "Golden Doors" to their new home. Bob Eubanks presides here. 

Even older shows that do exist can often be hard to find. While most of the 1969-1978 syndicated To Tell the Truth has run on Buzzr and Game Show Network, the first season apparently hadn't been seen anywhere since its original run in 1969-1970 until an episode showed up late last year. Too bad. The amazing psychedelic set is a work of art. I wish they hadn't replaced it for something less colorful by the early 70's. 

Here's more lost pieces of TV history to warm you up on this chilly weekend! (And thanks to Wink for the Gambit episode on his Vault channel!)

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