REVIEW: After weeks of poor performances, the panel finally had a pretty good night as they went a decent 2 for 3 on the evening. Unfortunately, in the first game, the panel got off to a bad start as they were stumped by the Chinese-American bullfighter from Berkeley, California who was working in Spain. In the second game, the panel broke out of their slump, as far as regular contestants were concerned, as Suzy, with a lot of help from Bennett, correctly guessed that the lady from Detroit made earplugs. In fact, she owed her appearance on the show to WML producer Gil Fates, who was one of her customers. In the mystery guest round, Bennett saved the panel from defeat by correctly identifying Andy Griffith. Andy was on the show to promote not only his highly successful sitcom, but also the television special that he performed in with his old cohort Don Knotts and "Tennessee" Ernie Ford. Andy said that the special had already been taped and would be airing that coming Tuesday evening. Also, Bennett mentioned the book "No Time for Sergeants," which was made into the classic play and film that helped make Andy a household name. And with that, the panel finally could go home knowing that they were successful again. - Sargebri (2008)
ANDY GRIFFITH: Little did anyone know at the time, but the 1966/1967 television season would be the next-to-last one for "The Andy Griffith Show." After the following season, Andy decided to end his long running show even though it was still one of the top rated sitcoms on television. However, for all intents and purposes, the show really didn't go off the air. Instead, it underwent a transformation and came back under the title "Mayberry RFD" with Ken Berry taking over the lead in the role of "Sam Jones," a gentleman farmer who gets elected to the Mayberry town council. In addition, most of the characters who were on "Andy" were also involved with the new series. In fact, the first episode of "RFD" featured the marriage of "Andy" to his long time girlfriend "Helen Crump" (played by Aneta Corsaut). "Barney Fife" (played as always by Don Knotts) was Andy's best man. Unfortunately, even though the show was somewhat of a success, it was still caught up in the infamous "Rural Purge of 1970-1971." However, in 1986, there was a highly successful reunion film that aired on NBC featuring most of the surviving cast members. Unfortunately, Frances Bavier (who played Aunt Bee) was in frail health and didn't appear in the film. Also, the same year the special aired, Andy started another highly successful television series, the legal drama "Matlock." It is interesting to note that throughout that show's run, many of the cast members of "The Andy Griffith" show would frequently make guest appearances on the show. In fact, during "Matlock's" third season, Don Knotts began appearing on the show in the recurring role of "Ben Matlock's" pesky next door neighbor "Les 'Ace' Calhoun." - Sargebri (2008)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: Tonight's opening sponsor is S.C. Johnson's Bravo floor wax.
(2) "MEMOREX" WATCH AND TECH NOTES: This is the third pre-taped episode this season to mention the show's New York origin in announcer Johnny Olson's intro. As with the previous show with this distinction, EPISODE #842 of December 25, 1966, Suzy Knickerbocker is one of the panelists. And it is interesting that tonight's show was the first on which the end credit slides were in color, given that this episode was taped immediately prior to last week's live EPISODE #849. As was the case last week, and will be the case on all remaining "WML?" episodes in its CBS run, the transition between slides was in the form of an up-to-down wipe.
(3) "WML?" PANEL WATCH: Tonight, the pseudonymous Suzy Knickerbocker (the nom de plume of journalist Aileen Mehle) becomes the third female guest panelist (after Phyllis Newman and Jayne Meadows) to be introduced first -- and sit on the far end of the panel desk -- two or more times in the post-Kilgallen era. As with the last time she was introduced first, announcer Johnny Olson's intro of her mentions that she writes for the World Journal Tribune (aka the "Widget"), and concludes with the wording of "and other papers from coast to coast," in a variation of the intro used for years for the dear departed Dolly Mae. On the other hand, for the first time since EPISODE #826 of August 14, 1966, the one-name, easier-to-read "SUZY" nameplate is on display on the panel desk.
(4) BAD PUN ALERT: The culprit this time out is Arlene, who, in her introduction of Bennett, mentions that in addition to his publishing concern, he has a new airline, "Pun American." The name is itself a pun on Pan American World Airways (aka Pan Am).
(5) "WML?'S" CANCELLATION: In those days, the usual way the cast and production crew of a TV show found out that it was being cancelled was in a newspaper, as those involved with "WML?" found out by reading about it in The New York Times on Valentine's Day 1967. But it wasn't just for such an event; in late 1954, for example, Milton Berle, whose NBC variety show was sponsored at the time by Buick, learned that the automotive brand of General Motors switched to sponsoring Jackie Gleason's new filmed version of his sitcom "The Honeymooners" (known today as the "Classic 39") by reading a headline in the trade paper Variety, "Buick Signs Gleason." The Great One himself, in early 1970, likewise found out about the final cancellation of his show by CBS by reading about it in the papers. One of the more infamous early examples of a TV executive breaking the news of a show's cancellation to its star came in 1964, when James T. Aubrey, then president of the CBS television network, informed Jack Benny of the cancellation of his long-running TV comedy by bluntly telling him, "You're through." It was also Aubrey's butting heads with Garry Moore that led, likewise in 1964, to the latter's temporary retirement from the medium, with his variety show going off the air and his hosting duties on "I've Got a Secret" being passed on to "WML?'s" prodigal son, and tonight's co-guest panelist, Steve Allen.
(6) ANDY GRIFFITH: Nearly two decades from his mystery guest appearance on tonight's show, Andy Griffith would embark on another long-running television show, "Matlock," as attorney "Ben Matlock." A few people from "The Andy Griffith Show" appeared in different roles, including Aneta Corsaut as a judge in a handful of episodes, and most notably, Don Knotts as "Les Calhoun." The program was notable in that all overlay graphics in every episode were video-based computer-generated typesetting, while the series itself was shot on film. "Matlock" ran on two different networks, NBC and then ABC, between 1986 and 1995. Ironically, one of the show's executive producers was Fred Silverman - the same hotshot who was responsible for CBS's nighttime game show purge of 1967 and the "rural purge" of 1970-1971.
(7) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: The February 5, 2008 airing of tonight's episode by GSN once again bore witness to the cable and satellite channel's cruel and criminally corrupt "crunching" of the screen during the end credit sequence.
(8) Following the February 5, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran an edition of "I've Got a Secret" which first emanated "live from New York" on January 7, 1963. The host, as always during this period of time, was Garry Moore, the panel was the usual "classic '60's" lineup of Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson, and the celebrity guest was Hugh Downs, who at the time was hosting the "Today" show and the game show "Concentration" - both on the same proverbial "other network," NBC. - W-B (2008)
CREDITS IN COLOR NOW TOO: Although "What's My Line?" began broadcasting in color commencing with EPISODE #830 of September 11, 1966, tonight's program is the first episode to begin airing the closing credits in color. - Suzanne (2008)
The panel had a better performance this night than they had in the past couple of weeks. They had a particularly hard time with the bull fighter, but they did have fun questioning him. They identified the second contestant on what amounted to only one "no" answer. Bennett opened the door wide open when he figured out that her product had something to do with ears, and then Suzy managed to discern that the product was earplugs. Mystery guest Andy Griffith nearly managed to stump the panel, but Bennett named him with one question to go. Andy had the panel going with his faux English accent, which he has used on more than one occasion when he has been the mystery guest. Andy was on the show to promote his upcoming 8:30 PM Tuesday television special that he had already filmed with Tennessee Ernie Ford and Andy's old sidekick, Don Knotts. In fact, during the post game conversation, Andy said he was working with "Steve's old friend." This was in reference to the fact that for several years, Don Knotts was part of Steve's supporting cast on the "Tonight!" show that Steve Allen hosted. Also mentioned was the play (and hilarious 1958 film) that first brought Andy to the public's attention, "No Time For Sergeants." Bennett claimed that he still read the story on occasion. He added that unfortunately, the book's author, Mac Hyman, had just recently passed away in 1963 at the young age of 39. Also of note, September of 1967 would mark the beginning of the final season of "The Andy Griffith Show," which ran from 1960 to 1968. After eight seasons, Andy figured that it was time to end the show while it was on top. However, this would not be the last that we would see of Mayberry. In the fall of 1968, "Mayberry R.F.D." would premiere, with Ken Berry in the role of gentleman farmer turned town councilman Sam Jones. In fact, the character of Sam made his debut in the final season of "The Andy Griffith Show." Also of note, the debut episode of "Mayberry R.F.D." began with the marriage of Sheriff Andy Taylor to his girlfriend Helen Crump, played by Aneta Corsaut. Don Knotts has a cameo in the episode as Barney Fife, who was acting as Andy's best man. "Mayberry R.F.D." was an immediate hit, and featured several of the characters that made its parent show the classic series that it was. However, in 1971 it was caught in Fred Silverman's infamous CBS "Rural Purge" and was cancelled despite the fact that it still had decent ratings. - Sargebri (2004)
WHAT'S MY LINE? IS CANCELLED IN 1967 - Most all of the "WML?" staff and panel were notified of the program's cancellation in the Tuesday, February 14, 1967 edition of the New York Times. Happy Valentine's Day. This was a typical TV way of saying it was over. The CBS network canceled "WML?" after it fell to 79th place in the Nielsen Ratings for the 1966-1967 season. "The Andy Williams Show" on NBC and the "ABC Sunday Night Movie" on ABC were both beating "WML?" in the ratings. (The ratings were as follows: "What's My Line?" 16.3; "The Andy Williams Show" 17.4; and "ABC Sunday Night Movie" 20.3, all as of January 22, 1967.) Bennett and Arlene were quoted in the newspaper article and both were as classy as could be. Bennett, on his way to catch a plane to Barbados, was quoted as saying, "I have not heard the program will be dropped. But if it's true, I'm not disappointed. It's a miracle that its run as long as it has. I enjoyed every minute of it. All panel shows have had it. The kids just don't watch them." Arlene said, "How could I feel bad about this? We've had an annuity for 17 years. I would be a malcontent if I complained now." John Daly, on his way to Nassau, could not be reached for comment. Dorothy Kilgallen was also mentioned in the NY Times article. The NYT said "WML?" cost only $51,000 to produce each half-hour program. Daly and the panelists received about $10,000 of that amount. Along with "I've Got a Secret," it was the cheapest, least expensive, show on TV. A half hour comedy or drama during this time period usually cost between $60,000 to $75,000 per program to produce. In addition, during this same time, a 60 second commercial spot went for $31,000. - WML Fan (2004)
Suzy Knickerbocker is the pen name of journalist Aileen Mehle. This is Suzy's next-to-last appearance on WML. - Suzanne (2004)
Tidbits: Arlene opens tomorrow in Poughkeepsie, NY in a play called "How Is Your Bird?" Her previous play, "Dinner at Eight" closed on January 14, 1967. After stating that Billy Wong was a University of California at Berkeley graduate, John mentioned that his wife Virginia also is a CAL graduate. By coincidence, so is your WML database editor, Suzanne Astorino. (2004)
Panel: Suzy Knickerbocker, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.
This episode was prerecorded. From Gil Fates' logs, we know this episode was taped on February 12, 1967. Therefore, the panel does not yet know of the cancellation of WML.
Click "All Episode Notes" to see all the notes, as they don't all show up on the summary overview page.
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