Monday, June 19, 2023

Games for Independence

Started off a late morning with breakfast and Match Game '77. Gary Burghoff and Meg Bennett are the ingenues in this unusual episode, which begins with someone having left the lights on during the introduction with the turning square. Even after that's fixed, they have to help the contestant figure out "The March of __" in the Audience Match. The second one starts with a Methuselah question that gets the obvious answers, including a very funny quip from Fannie Flagg. Gene's weird story about Cuba comes in for more ribbing later on.

Jumped on my bike soon as the episode ended. I had a lot of errands to run today. Target didn't have the shampoo and conditioner I like on sale, but they did have more unique nut flavors. Grabbed those delicious doughnut-glazed almonds and lemon poppy seed cashews. Since it was a very hot day, almost in the 90's, I picked up a bottle of Hint flavored water. (The blueberry-lemon is quite good. Really does taste like blueberries.)

I was starved by quarter of 2. Dodged kids just out of school and heavy traffic on the White Horse Pike as I made my way over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. There's a freestanding Applebee's in the parking lot around the corner from the Acme. By 2, they were pretty quiet, with only a few groups of older people eating late lunches. I enjoyed a simple but tasty Classic Bacon Cheeseburger with deliciously salty fries and an iced tea. 

Checked out a few stores next. I was hoping Lane Bryant would have another rack of winter clothes for $6.98. While they did have discount racks, none of them were quite that cheap. I left with nothing. Did a little better across the street at Goodwill. Found two books, Real Love on meditation and how it can help relationships and By Book or By Crook, a cozy mystery by Eva Gates set at a fictional Outer Banks lighthouse library. Dug a fancy folk-art themed address book from the late 80's - early 90's that had never been used out of the books, too. Found the early 50's Alfred Hitchcock mystery Stage Fright with Marlene Dietrich and Jane Wyman on the DVD shelves.

Biked down the Black Horse Pike and across Oaklyn next. I considered getting a drink somewhere, but most places on West Clinton are closed on Mondays. Just crossed the White Horse Pike and rode to Dollar General instead. I looked at a few things, but I just ended up getting two boxes of Sunbelt Bakery granola bars and a bottle of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi.

At least it was a decent day for a ride. Hot, yes, but also breezy and sunny, with only a few fleecy clouds in the sky. The breeze and it being relatively dry kept it from feeling unbearable. 

Went straight home after that. Tried moving files from Google to a USB port, but I really had a hard time with it. Switched to writing instead. Ira's annoyed with the dog trying to steal his lunch. Joyce is horrified when he says he'll have to send it to the pound if they can't find someone to take it by the end of the day. Brett scolds him for being a jerk, but he reminds her that untrained, non-acting dogs don't belong in TV studios.

Broke for dinner and to take my laundry downstairs at 7. Ate while watching Match Game '79. These episodes re-introduced a lady contestant from Texas who got a second chance because Gene flubbed one of her questions the week before. TV hunks Robert Walden and Bert Convy, along with Dallas beauty Audrey Landers, point to Patty Duke as the answer to "Patti ___" in the first Audience Match, and help with "Sunny __" in the second. The other episode begins with Gene flirting with Audrey and grabbing her, to Bert's annoyance. 

Put my laundry in the dryer, then finished the night on YouTube and Dailymotion celebrating Juneteenth and Pride Month with game show appearances by beloved gay and black performers. Charles Nelson Reilly, for instance, was told in his younger years that a gay man would never work on television. Ironically, he's now best-known for his TV appearances, like his hilarious turn as a Mystery Guest on this 1974 episode of What's My Line. Arlene Francis, who knew him well from Match Game and seeing him on Broadway, finally figured out what he was up to. 

Confetti-throwing Rip Taylor was a wild and welcome sight on game shows well into the 2000's. He really had fun during his appearance on Match Game '90 during Christmas week. In one infamous episode, he even yanked off his toupee and hit Fred Travalena with it for doing a bad imitation of him. 

Body Language frequently showed off some pretty unique charades players. Ted Lange of The Love Boat helped his contestant become one of the few to win the big $10,000 prize in mid-1985. Richard Deacon had a rougher time of it with his contestant in an early episode of The $10,000 Pyramid in 1973. He almost got him there once...and then there were technical mishaps, and they had to redo the last square almost literally as the show ended. 

Whoopi Goldberg became one of the first black women to headline a game show with her version of Hollywood Squares in the late 90's. In an episode from 2000, she even got to read a few questions while host Tom Bergenon took a break in her center square. Other celebrities helping contestants get a second chance at winning included Bruce Villanch, Oscar De La Hoya, Patti LaBelle, Lisa Ling, and comedian Doug E. Doug.

The short-lived Break the Bank from 1976 was producers Barry-Enright's attempt at imitating Match Game, crossing it with their signature huge board. The contestants have to guess a question from a celebrity in order to win the square on the board. If the square has money or a money bag, they get that money. If they get three money bags, they "break the bank" and win the game. If they hit a blank square, they lose their turn. In the syndicated version I watched, there's a bonus round where the winner had to choose a celebrity holding up a card in the hope they had money. Jack Barry hosted in syndication. Too bad this doesn't seem to have worked on the network or in syndication. It's complicated, but often very funny, with the celebrities tossing out quips ala Hollywood Squares

Black performers go back further on game shows than you might think. The Supremes performed two of their biggest hits, "Baby Love" and "Back In My Arms Again," on a really awesome 1965 episode of To Tell the Truth. They bracketed the panel trying to guess who their boss Barry Gordy, the owner and creator of Motown, was. (And he really stumped them, too!) The last contestant was even funnier. The panel had to guess who was the father of Dallas Burroughs, aka Orson Bean, and a police officer who had seen several college riots of the early-mid 60's. 

Celebrate independence of all kinds with these hilarious and thought-provoking episodes! (Major warning that the $10,000 Pyramid episode is in horrible shape, but that series was largely wiped and is very rare. Hollywood Squares and Pyramid come with their original commercials; Break the Bank has the commercials from its brief run on Game Show Network.)

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