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CBS (ended 1967)

Pioneers of TV: Game Shows - Tonight on PBS

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    ClassicTV

    [1]Jan 23, 2008
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    For the past two weeks, a program called "Pioneers of Television" has been airing Wednesdays at 8PM EST on PBS. It is a retrospective of the different genres of past TV programming with many film clips and kinescopes. The first installment examined sitcoms, and last week spotlighted variety shows. Tonight, game shows will be the subject of the hour-long show.

    I don't know if any clips of WML? will be included; the promo showed Bob Barker as host of "Truth or Consequences", Groucho Marx as emcee of "You Bet Your Life", and Johnny Carson as star of "Who Do You Trust?".The program synopsis on the PBS website mentions that Betty White, Monty Hall, and Bob Barker were interviewed for this program, and their portions of the show can be seen in true high definition for those viewers who have an HDTV. Merv Griffin will also appear in an archival interview.

    The program usually repeats on many PBS stations tomorrow evening at 9PM, and can be seen over the weekend on "PBS World", a digital subchannel that's available in some markets to viewers who get their TV signals over-the-air via an antenna and whose televisions have the new digital tuners.

    Watch the program for the film clips and the contemporary interviews with the hosts/creators. Try not to be put off by the annoying over-the-top, super sanctimonious delivery of the narrator and the narration itself. In last week's installment, the narrator's hyperbole would almost equate "Tony Orlando and Dawn" with the discovery of the polio vaccine!

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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [2]Jan 23, 2008
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    Thank you, ClassicTV, for alerting us. The program looks interesting. In checking the TV program guide, it's also on at 8PM PST.
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    billsav57

    [3]Jan 24, 2008
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    That's been a good series, but it pretty much flips through the various shows so quickly, it's hard to go into much depth. I was surprised at how so many game show legends said they considered Bill Cullen the consummate game show MC.
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  • Avatar of ClassicTV

    ClassicTV

    [4]Jan 24, 2008
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    The program did include a brief WML? segment, where Steve Allen questions a man named Olsen who sells maternity clothes. That clip was immediately followed by Steve Allen hosting an "I've Got A Secret" with a fleeting glimpse of the panel. Mark Goodson was profiled as the game show industry's most prolific producer. In a recently made interview, Bob Barker said that one word aptly summed up Goodson: brilliant. The camera also panned a still photo taken in the very early years of "Line" when they had the bare-bones set.

    Photos of Arlene Francis appeared later in the program, and mention was made of her hosting "Blind Date". The voice-over narration noted that she was more than able to host a game show, but the prevailing notion of the era was that the emcee should be male. Vicki Lawrence ("Win, Lose, or Draw") remarked in her interview that network research showed that women viewers developed crushes on the male hosts.

    Bob Stewart was identified as a producer of WML? and as the creator of "Password". A contemporary interview with him was included in the hour. He told the interviewer that if you can get the people watching to shout at their TV, telling the contestant to do this or say that, then you know that you have the basis for a good game show because you have the home audience hooked.

    Bob Barker told of how his boss Ralph Edwards had created, sold, produced, and hosted the radio version of "Truth Or Consequences" by the age of 26. It was the number one radio show in the country around 1941.

    Merv Griffin recounted how he went for an audition at Goodson/Todman Productions in an office skyscraper one night at about 9PM. While waiting in the reception area, he started to doubt why he should even be applying to host "Play Your Hunch", and, because no one was in the room at the time, he went to the elevator to leave. Before the elevator door could open, an assistant came out of one of the office doors and said that they would be ready for him in a few minutes. He got the job, and developed such a love for game shows that he went on to create "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" based on games that he used to play with his sister as a kid.

    One of Chuck Barris' productions - either "The Dating Game" or "The Newlywed Game", drew a big audience for its premiere on ABC because viewers weren't interested in the live news conference with Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara that was airing on both CBS and NBC at the time.

    Toward the end of the show, many of the interviewed emcees - Jack Narz, his brother Tom Kennedy, Chuck Woolery, and Bob Barker - concurred that Bill Cullen was the greatest game show host, due to his seemingly effortless ability to ad lib, listen to, and like the contestants. A snippet was shown from an early game show that he hosted.

    There were four parts to "Pioneers of Television", and the one that I forgot to mention in my first post was about late night programs. That one included kinescopes of WML? alum Steve Allen from "The Tonight Show".

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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [5]Jan 24, 2008
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    ClassicTV wrote:
    The program did include a brief WML? segment, where Steve Allen questions a man named Olsen who sells maternity clothes. That clip was immediately followed by Steve Allen hosting an "I've Got A Secret" with a fleeting glimpse of the panel.

    That clip was from EPISODE #195 of February 21, 1954.

    What made the contestant's occupation funny was that Dorothy Kilgallen was pregnant with her son Kerry Kollmar, who was born a month later on March 19, 1954.

    This is an episode that is not in the GSN library and will never be shown on GSN, therefore, it is "officially" lost.

    In 2005, our TV.com member and pal Mike (ymike673 - Yankee Mike) was able to obtain a private copy of this episode (on eBay) and wrote a detailed review for our guide.

    Suzanne

    Edited on 01/31/2008 5:22am
    Edited 3 total times.
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    agent_0042

    [6]Jan 28, 2008
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    I missed it. I'll watch for a repeat.
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    sixtyfivealive

    [7]Jan 28, 2008
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    I thought it was a great documentary on game shows, showing many clips that probably haven't been seen on TV in over 40 years. What I can't figure out is how they could possibly leave out MATCH GAME and Gene Rayburn entirely.
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    sixtyfivealive

    [8]Jan 28, 2008
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    Or Bud Collyer and BEAT THE CLOCK. Especially since they spent a lot of time on Let's Make A Deal and contestant participation.
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  • Avatar of ClassicTV

    ClassicTV

    [9]Jan 28, 2008
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    As for the lack of certain clips, I think that Suzanne (astorino) put her finger on the reason in her above post. It probably would have cost the producers of the special several thousand dollars to run a one minute film or video segment had they gone through Fremantle, the license holder. By going to the Paley Museum or to a private collection for the "lost" WML? clip, they most likely saved a substantial amount of money.

    Other than a kinescope of Bill Cullen hosting the original "Price Is Right", which may also have been acquired through some other entity than Fremantle, I don't recall seeing many other Goodson-Todman clips. The show relied on quite a few still photos, like the ones taken in the early 1960s to promote "Password". So maybe Fremantle wanted more money than the PBS special's budget would allow.

    Sony Pictures Television looks like another entity that may have demanded a king's ransom to use video from "Jeopardy" and "Wheel Of Fortune" because the documentary resorted to constructing a fake spinning prize wheel and having an announcer recreate the opening to "Wheel" rather than use actual tape of the show.

    During the installment about variety shows, the voice-over narration about "The Carol Burnett Show" was not accompanied by video from that series. Instead, she is seen in a guest appearance on an episode of "The Lucy Show" which appears to be in public domain because it is frequently included in dollar store DVD bins.

    Clip or retrospective programs are usually done because they are relatively cheap to produce, and my guess is that the omission of "Match Game" and other archival footage was most likely the result of trying to deliver the program to PBS at or under budget.

    As an aside, every time I press "Preview" on this forum to proofread my post, I find that the spaces between many of the words have been removed and the words are running together with no space in between. I have to add the spaces back and preview my post several times before the words no longer run together. Is anyone else experiencing this problem?

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    Stan16mm

    [10]Jan 28, 2008
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    Part of the reason why the WML episode clip was from a show that isn't in the GSN library is that the show was taken out of the Goodson Todman library. I very dear friend told me of the time he visited the Goodson Todman offices and was brought into a room that housed the film library. He was amazed how all these films were saved and wondered why. He figured that they were game shows and they were worthless. How wrong he was as he now admits.

    Many film collectors/archivists like myself have rare and only print copies of various early television shows that were preserved on Kinescope. Shows that are forgotten or episodes of shows that for whatever reason were "borrowed" for a showing, sometimes never returned to the proper shelves.

    The WML films were used and borrowed for many purposes over the years. If you have seen the 25th Anniversary Special and you notice the "grease pencil "x" marks" on the GSN airings, you will have seen the editors notations for clips to cut out for the 1975 tribute. Instead of recording the shows on video for editing, due to the buget limitations, the sequences were cut out of the prints. After the show was put on tape, the sections were respliced into the prints. That's why you hear the pops before or after the "X" marks on GSN. Whoever spliced the films together didn't bother to clean up the prints. I recall seeing an episode where the footage was placed in the wrong place. After GSN transferred them onto digital, the prints were put back and still not cleaned up. I don't know where the prints are stored but they are in need of cleaning and recoating or they too will be lost. I only wish I could do the restorations.

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    W-B

    [11]Jan 28, 2008
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    There have been rumors - only rumors, mere speculation, mind you - that the last WML? episode in 1967 exists on color videotape (and presumably a few others along the way), but Fremantle has steadfastly refused to allow GSN to run the CBS WML? shows in any extant form other than Gil Fates' kinnies - cut up (in some cases) and all. If what is mentioned about Fremantle's "king's ransom" demands viz the showing of G-T clips on the PBS' TV pioneers special is true, one has to wonder (but only wonder) if that's part of the equation . . . that it would, ahem, "break the bank" (to quote another popular game show title) to show that final edition in the same way that viewers with color televisions saw it on that September 3 evening . . .
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    ymike673

    [12]Jan 28, 2008
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    If a "color" copy of the last episode of WML indeed exists I really can't see GSN spending the extra cash to air it. I really doubt enough additional viewers would tune in at 3 AM to see it to justify the added expense.
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