Sunday, February 05, 2023

Lovers and Games

Started off a sunny morning with breakfast and Unsung Musicals III. This is the last of three CD collections put out by Verasce Sarabande in the 90's that brought together material from shows that either closed quickly on Broadway or never made it there. The CD opens with the witty ensemble number "Nothing to Do With Love," from the off-Broadway revue Personals. This does sound like something that would have been performed on Friends - apparently, the writers of this show would go on to create that one. My favorites are the charming title song from a musical It's a Wonderful Life and "At the Same Time," from an earlier stage version of Freaky Friday

Headed off to work even before the CD ended. Work was no more fun today than it was yesterday. People just aren't in good moods. I hate explaining why they can't mix and match the soda brands or why their government cards don't cover everything they want. People don't listen, and I get tired of it. I'm sick of their whining over high prices and forgetting their reusable bags. None of that is my problem. I was so glad when it slowed down enough by 7 for me to leave with no relief and no need for one. 

After I got home, I went straight upstairs and into writing. Allen insists on calling a meeting about The Ace, who's been spotted at several high-profile warehouse burglaries and arsons of late. Richard tries to deflect  his interest onto the warehouses or the Master Magician, but Allen doesn't trust this strange person who seems to be wherever the Master Magician and his crimes are.

Broke for dinner at 7. Listened to Unsung Sondheim as I ate. This one focuses on music cut from Sondheim projects like "The Old Piano Roll" from Follies and "Multitudes of Amys" from Company, from shows that didn't come to fruition like the original Saturday Night, with its title song lamenting nothing to do on a Depression era weekend, or from little-known projects like the sweetly goofy "Truly Content" from an unproduced version of the modern Cinderella short story Passionella. I'm fondest of the gentle ballad "What Can You Lose" from Dick Tracy and the scolding "No, Mary Ann." 

Finished the night on YouTube with the great romantic couple of game shows, Allen Ludden and Betty White. Normally, Buzzr runs at least one episode featuring them for Valentine's Day. With them focusing on The Newlywed Game for the holiday this year, I decided to do a whole night dedicated to the pair. 

Allen first encountered Betty when she began playing Password in 1961...but he didn't really fall for her until a year later, when he'd begun to recover from the death of his first wife. Betty resisted his advances at first, but Allen and his three children finally convinced her she belonged with them. She and Allen were married in 1963. Appropriately, they made their first appearance as a married couple on Password, joined by their long-time friend late night host Jack Paar. 

Betty continued playing Password with her husband when the show went to color in 1967, in the now-rare ABC version from the early 70's, and during Password Plus when Allen was on in 1979 and 1980. In fact, Betty appeared in one of the first weeks of Plus with Dick Martin. They were always a delight together, whether Jack Paar teased them about their relationship, or Betty joshed Allen by dancing with handsome John Phillip Law in the beginning of Plus

They appeared together on other shows, too. They were on the panel together on To Tell the Truth later that year. Their friend Arlene Francis had no trouble figuring out they were the mystery guests on an episode of What's My Line

They're one of my favorite couples from the original 1970's Tattletales. They never failed to have a funny story or do something that would make me - and the audience - roar with laughter. And more often than not, they'd win, too, as in this episode from near the end of the original run where they're joined by Bill Anderson and his wife Becky and Patrick Duffy and his wife Carlyn. 

I really wish they appeared together more often on Match Game. The week they did in 1975 is probably the best from that year. The final episode of the week had Allen offering his fancy watch to anyone who would listen, Gene Rayburn saying "I've had Betty" in response to the Audience Match, and Betty and Brett running out and doing their own versions of belly dancing to the Star Spangled Banner! All this, and Dolly Martin puts in her first week, too. 

Sadly, their second week together during the syndicated version in 1980, and one of their last appearances on TV together, is currently lost...but the nighttime episode survives. Allen and Betty clearly enjoy sitting next to each other for the first and only time on the show. Jonelle Allen and Jimmie Walker join in for jokes about what job would be useless in an nursing home and what Dumb Donald takes when he thinks he's going "up the river." 

They were among the celebrities appearing on some of the few currently circulating episodes of the original 1980 Chain Reaction. Their long stint on Password made them a natural for this game that involved creating chains of words. They both do very well, with Allen getting his contestants to the bonus round three times in the three episodes seen here. 

Celebrate the season of romance with these shows chronicling the relationship between the most loving couple in game shows! (Chain Reaction is actually three episodes strung together.)

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