Syndication: (September 1988 - September 1989)
The relationship game show was enjoying a massive renaissance during the mid-late 1980s. Starting off with the debut of the innovative for its time Love Connection and revivals of both The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game. Those three shows helped spawn a bevy of new shows that tried to captivate the audience like those three did. One of my favorites was another brilliant, but short-lived idea called Matchmaker, where the host would interview 6 people, without seeing them at all throughout the entire program. The show itself was great, but with the landscape changing to more raunchy programming such as the trashy talk shows and clones of The People's Court, the show was only on for one year. The inverse of Matchmaker was a show that was a blatant clone of the worst segments that plagued the last year of the CBS Daytime To Tell The Truth. I present to you Sweethearts.
Sweethearts was mainly presented by Match Game regular and eccentric actor and broadway star Charles Nelson Reilly. I say mainly because when he was away on Broadway, Three's Company star Richard Kline filled in for him. Although I can't really comment on Kline's hosting, mainly because no episodes of his hosting seem to exist in the trading circuit or on Youtube, I doubt he would have been much worse than Charles. Charles, at least to me, seemed a bit ill at ease, but like any good actor, had enough timing and improv skills to make up for some of it. Personally, Charles seems more like a panelist rather than the straight-guy that the host would normally be present. The odd thing is that they had a very capable host as the announcer in Jim McKrell. He would have been able to fit into the role perfectly, instead of being relegated to the announcer's booth, which he found a home in on other shows at the time, like on Couch Potatoes.
The format is a simple one, yet painfully derivative. Three couples appear on the show, one of the three couples are a real, married couple and the other two are imposters who were put together today before showtime. All 3 couples have a story to tell and explain their story to the 3 panelists. That's right, you probably already know the deal that I'm going to say. It's the panelists job to figure out which of the 3 couples is the real couple. So, we got a blatant To Tell The Truth knock-off right now. Now, as you can already guess, we have a usual bunch of C-Listers as panelists, so it's not really that much of a hassle anyways, because at least they got people that were "working".
Before I talk about the rest of the show, I should explain my stance here. Back in 1967, the Daytime To Tell The Truth went from having a good theme and colorful set to having a really white set and a theme that can rival the xylophone hell that was Number Please at the behest of Fred Silverman. Also at the behest of Fred Silverman, he wanted to add in a "guess who's the real husband or wife or couple" game at least 2 times a week, where they would have a strange story and the panelists and 100 studio audience members would have to figure out who was the real husband, wife or couple. So, in a way, it's kind of like Sweethearts, except done 20 years earlier. Viewers rejected the changes made by Silverman and the show was axed in 1969.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled induction.
Now, the drawing point of the show was that all 3 couples met in weird and interesting ways, such as this couple who claims to have met at a David Lee Roth Concert. Apparently, he was working security, or crowd control and she was a horned-up fangirl who wanted to jump David's bones backstage. She tried to get on stage, but the guy caught her and set her down. Interesting story, but there ya go. The stories are sometimes well conceived, but come out like manure when the couples tell them. After the story has been told, the 3 panelists have 45 seconds to 1 minute to ask the couple questions about how they met, but they can't be intrusive questions like social security or phone numbers, stuff like that. This repeats 2 more times.
Then at the end of the show, when all 3 couples have been asked the questions, the panelists vote on which is the real couple. Each incorrect vote is worth $500 to the real couple and to the fake couple that got the vote. If the real couple gets no votes, they win $1,500 and a nice second honeymoon to some exotic locale. Which, for a syndication show of its kind, isn't that bad.
While the write-up doesn't sound like the induction I normally do, it's because the entire show was just a lame knock-off of a bad To Tell The Truth segment. Charles Nelson Reilly was horribly miscast with Jim McKrell in the announcing booth would have made a much better choice, some of the panelists weren't really interested, and the show was just there. No, it wasn't corpsing, it was just there. Aside from the stories of the couples, there really wasn't much to this show, and it was cancelled in 1989, where about 2/3rds of all game shows on Network TV and Syndication got axed in favor of talk shows, more soaps or giving the time back to the affiliates.
In short, repetitive, derivative and makes a good sedative for those that are tired at night.
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