Pioneers of Television

Season 1 Episode 4

Game Shows

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 23, 2008 on PBS
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Episode Summary

Game Shows
The final installment of the series chronicles the history of television shows based on games of competition among participants - including how the pioneering producers planned the games, the quiz show scandals of the late 50s, and the rise of more inclusive programs in the 1960s.

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  • The series wraps-up with an examination of game shows. This is probably the strongest installment.

    The origins and changes in game shows from TV's earliest days to the present.

    I like this entry the best of all, it seems to have more direction and focus, has detail, and doesn't leave out a lot of the genre like the Comedy and Variety episodes. Filled with a good synopsis of the early days, interviews with those that remember the original creation of the games, as well as an accurate but not over-long discussion of the quiz show scandals that are often more familiar to fans of early TV. I especially liked the trivia that struggling ABC's "The Newlywed Game" got a big leg up because Americans turned away from a broadcast of a speech by Secretary of Defenese Robert McNamara. It's nice to see Merv Griffin one last time and the program has a nice homage to Bill Cullen from his peers. Another interesting phenomenon that comes through in the interviews is how much the celebrities that participated really loved the games themselves.

    So, although game shows are not among my favorite television productions, I think the script, interviews ,and one-hour format of "Pioneers of Television" was used to best effect here.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Wink Martindale: Mark Goodson once described the game show hosting job as, "Driving a car backwards down a mountain road, and being witty and funny at the same time."

    • Bob Eubanks: The Newlywed Game was a comedy show that happened to have a game there, and that's really what it is, you know? Nobody talks about, "Wow, did you see that great prize they won?" Or, "Wow, they sure knew each other." No, they only talk about the funny stuff.

    • (About "Hollywood Squares")
      Phyllis Diller: At home in bed, at two o'clock in the morning, you'd think of the greatest line that you didn't use. That's enough to kill a person.

    • (About building the drama on "Let's Make a Deal")
      Monty Hall: And you're noticing the contestant's reactions, because you have to play off their reactions. That's the first thing you do. You are like an amateur psychologist, because you're watching the eyelids flutter, and you think you know when her breaking point is, and you go to that point and no farther.

    • Bob Stewart: In my opinion, you have a great game show if the person at home is talking to the screen aloud. When they yell at the screen, "Say so-and-so" or "Do so-and-so" you got 'em hooked.

    • (On the origins of "Wheel of Fortune.")
      Merv Griffin: So we would sit in the back of the car and play "hangman." And years later, I remembered it and thought, "I wonder if that could be a game show?"

  • NOTES (1)