Monday, April 24, 2023

I've Got a Match

Got a quick start this morning with breakfast and Charlie & Lola. After she can't find her favorite stuffed fox, Lola becomes worried about going missing herself during a surprise school field trip. She wonders "What If I Get Lost In the Middle of Nowhere?" Charlie's tips on how to deal with being lost are useful when they end up going to a maze, and Lola and Lotta use them to find their way to the tree in the center and back to the entrance.

Worked on writing for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Lee diverts them back to discussing the Gang. No, Richard doesn't know who they are or what they want. He does want to know the name of a good tailor, though. He still has that bullet hole in his jacket sleeve. Lee is not amused by his fretting over his clothes. Debralee hangs on his every word.

Ran Buzzr while I worked. Scoey Mitchilll, Elaine Joyce, and Fannie Flagg joined in for Match Game '77. In the first episode, Elaine Joyce and Brett Somers accuse Gene of getting fresh when he tries to unwind Elaine from his microphone. Later in the episode, a question about why they would take a best-dressed award from Gene prompts Elaine to untie his shoelaces. The second episode Brett using her rear end to demonstrate an answer, Elaine yelling at Scoey for talking over her, and Gene briefly taking the contestant's place!

Let it run into Tattletales as I got ready for work. Allen Ludden and Betty White went up against two soap opera couples, George Hamilton and his then-wife Alana and later Dallas star Susan Howard and her long-time husband Calvin Chrane. Betty and Allen just knew each other too well. Though George and Alana did stage a big comeback in the end after not getting anything right the entire episode, Betty and Allen ended up winning it for the "banana" (yellow) section.

Rushed out to work after the episode ended. As it turned out, rushing probably wasn't necessary. We were quiet almost the entire afternoon. The only time it got busy was when one register would close so a cashier could go on break, leaving only one or two registers open. It's the end of the month, there's not much going on besides sports and birthdays, and the weather was gorgeous, windy, sunny, off-and-on cloudy, and in the lower 60's. Of course, the lines just started to get long as I shut down to go home. They called in the producer manager to take the rest of my long line.

Rushed home soon as I could and went straight into Match Game '73 when I got in. Charles returned for these episodes, joined by Betty, Pat Harrington, and Jo Ann Pflug. The first episode introduced a military chaplain contestant whose vocation and his just returning from Vietnam prompted several jokes. Richard comes into the jokes when his very British response to "Cotton __" in the Audience Match leads to a crack from Charles about him not being the popular favorite anymore. 

Let it go into Match Game '79. The week with Robert Pine and Susan Richardson ended with Fannie Flagg getting "__ Harry" on the Head-to-Head. Turns out a certain popular Clint Eastwood movie was the contestant's favorite. We went into the next week after that, with Richard Deacon, Jon Bauman in "Bowser" greaser mode, and Brianne Leary. Jokes were made about Brianne's newsboy-style suit and cap and Bowser's goofy poem in appreciation for his being on the show.

Finished up the night with dinner and I've Got a Secret on YouTube in honor of a new revival being announced. This was the first of many Goodson-Todman imitations of What's My Line. It's basically the same deal, only here, the panel guesses something funny or unusual about the contestant. Goofy Garry Moore was the original host. Bill Cullen was on the panel from the beginning. 

The show was a little too faithful to its source in the first year or so. It wasn't until they started playing the secrets for comedy and bringing in panelists who could handle the jokes that things clicked. Bill was joined by sarcastic radio comedian Henry Morgan right away; sweet actress Betsy Palmer and tough former Miss America Bess Myerson eventually replaced Jayne Meadows and talk show hostess Faye Emerson. Steve Allen took over for Moore in late 1964, placing the accent even further on the laughs and the increasingly silly secrets from their celebrity guests.

The show ran for 15 years, only ending in 1967 when CBS thought it skewered too old and cleared their nighttime slate of game shows. The last season was in color, although currently only black-and-white copies circulate. The final episode went out with a young Lynn Redgrave as the celebrity guest and a rather sweet secret about what five older men were doing in New York. 

Unlike Line or To Tell the Truth, Secret has never been able to recapture the popularity of its original run. The first syndicated revival in 1972 with Richard Dawson and Pat Carroll on the panel and Allen hosting again was well-received. It had some terrific celebrity guests and very funny secrets, but it only lasted a year. I went with the first episode, featuring Paul Lynde in a secret that impressed plus-sized Carroll and definitely impressed me! 

CBS brought back Secret as a summer replacement show in 1976. It barely ran for four episodes and a pilot before calling it quits. Only the pilot is available for viewing today (though the last episode is said to survive as an audio recording). Apparently, CBS gave it little publicity or attention and didn't really do much with it. Shame, because the pilot is a lot of fun. Bill Cullen enjoys moving up to the host's chair, while Richard is joined by Morgan, Elaine Joyce, and Pat Collins. Rodney Dangerfield gets early exposure showing off two unusual musicians who would be more at home on The Gong Show, while the show opens with grandmothers doing their own odd dancing routine. 

That failure scared producers away from the format for over 20 years. It was 2000 before it was dusted off for the female-oriented cable channel Oxygen. Once again, they stick to the original format, only this time done in an informal living room setting. Considering the show barely lasted a year, they did manage to get some fairly impressive guest stars. Terri Garr, Amy Yasbeck, and Jm J. Bullock were on the panel in the episode I went with. Lily Tomlin was the guest star, and her voices - or lack of one- really stumped the panel.

(Secret would be dusted off one more time in 2006 for Game Show Network, but that version was so short-lived, all I can find of it online are bits and pieces that reveal a colorful set and a format close to the original.) 

No matter who's hosting or how wild the celebrity guest can be, this is one of the most fun game shows around - and that's no secret. Hope you enjoy the history of this often-hilarious exploration of secrets, lies, and comedy lunacy!

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