#46: What's Going On?
ABC: (November 1954 - December 1954)
Mark Goodson and Bill Todman in the 1950's were the undisputed kings of the game show world. It seemed like every single show they devised was destined to be a hit. However, what irks me about this is that almost all of their shows at that time were just a variation of their mega-hit, What's My Line. I mean, come to think about it, The Name's The Same was just a variation of Line's Mystery Guest segment, just without the blindfolds. After that, we got I've Got A Secret. Which had the same type of questioning that Line had, but at least it changed up what was being asked. Then we got the cool quiz game, Two For The Money. This proved that Goodson/Todman didn't really need to depend solely on Panel Shows. But in December of 1954, Goodson/Todman gave us the bastard child of every single panel show they have devised up to this point, I introduce the 5-episode disaster, What's Going On?
What's Going On? was presented by Lee Bowman. While he was known as a good actor who knew how to deliver script lines well, in the live game show world he was horrendous at what he did. Most of the time he watched, he sounded like he didn't really care about what was going on. He sounded very distant from the action and was just there to do the bare bones of what he was asked. What made it worse is that, according to the esteemed right hand man of Goodson, Gil Fates, he was asked to stretch for time because some of the rounds ran short, so they had about 2 or so minutes to fill. What did Lee Bowman do? He promptly said, Good Night and we had probably the longest credit crawl that Goodson had at that time. The people at home, during the credit roll could promptly see the panel starting to smoke. I mean, when the director asks you to stretch and at least talk to the panel about stuff to fill 2 minutes, YOU STRETCH AND TALK TO THE PANEL!!!! So not only was he bad, he was insubordinate.
Although Lee was crap, the rest of the show isn't that much better. Here's the set-up. 3 of the Revlon Players are in studio and have to guess what one of the other 3 Revlon Players are doing outside of the studio, and often, outside of the state. It might sound like an interesting format in theory, but once you realize that it isn't regular people playing the game and instead it's all celebrities playing the game, it just seems boring, no matter where they are.
Here's a sampling of What's Going On? is about. Here you see Cliff Norton counting sheep at the stockyards in Chicago, Illinois. And all that the panel has to go on is the amount of chimes it has to tell the difficulty of the situation. Hmmm, speaking off counting sheep, I don't need to count sheep to go to sleep, just watching this segment is making my eyelids heavy. Anyways, the panel has to keep asking the Revlon Player that's in at the Revlon Remote to narrow down where the Revlon Player is and what the Revlon Player is doing. It's a simple game, but it gets quite boring aside from the errand bad guess or question that pops up on every single panel show that Goodson/Todman did back then.
One thing that both made the show unique in a way, but ultimately was the big Achilles Heel of the show was indeed the Revlon Remote, which would be quite far from the theater itself. Now, while it was interesting to see a live feed into the show, more often than not, the stuff outside of the theater would most of the time would have audio problems and would have to require Mr. Bare Bones to actually do something instead of introducing stuff and being a complete drip. He would have to answer the questions for the panel while the people at the remote were working on the audio problems. This would become a very irritating prospect for the show. Honestly, if the show had waited 5, maybe 10 years to debut, this problem would easily be fixed and wouldn't have brought down the show.
On occasion, the show would expand the panel from 3 to the standard 4 to fit 1 civilian panelist. More often than not, the civilian panelist would be guessing along with the panel about what the Revlon Player is doing to their spouse or mate or something to that effect. It's pretty much the same boring game, except with a tinge of excitement to see if the civilian could nail what was going on. If they did, it's worth $100. Which, is just amount I would have to be paid in order to sit through this show again.
So, in short it's a bland, boring show that had some innovations that ultimately helped led to the show's demise. Out of the 5 episodes that were produced, 4 were aired on GSN a few years ago. Not much is known about the 5th episode, but let's be honest. If you wanted to know what was going on in that 5th episode, you're a better man than I am.
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