rebirth of what killed the original "truth"
Syndication: (September 1988 -
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
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
In short, repetitive, derivative
and makes a good sedative for those that are tired at night.