Hosts: The Name's The Same (April - June 1955)
Dennis James is an acquired taste, and I haven't acquired it. He wasn't as lively as Robert Q. was, nor was he as interested as the rest of the proceedings. While he is better suited for something more along the lines of a quiz show or a word game, he just didn't gel with Joan Alexander, Roger Price, Bess Myerson and whomever was in the 4th chair. It was then decided by the producers and ABC that Dennis James was corpsing. Wait, Dennis is Corpsing?
Well, they did send for the man. However, this is a very rare occasion where they sent for the man, and the man was worse than the man they called for the man on. Actually, I should say, Men. So, without further ado, it's time to bring out Bob and Ray.
Bob and Ray aka Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding were better known for their radio show and their variety show on NBC. They had some drawing power, especially lasting all the way to the 80s in their radio show. Now while that may translate fine for a variety show, having it in a panel based game show didn't really work out well at all. Bob and Ray can play off one another and it be perfect. However, when they bring in someone who hasn't seen a TV camera, or hasn't even watched TV before it comes off as stilted and unnatural.
This isn't even getting to their hosting. To be frank, it was pretty dismal. I was under the impression that they would be livelier and be a nice return to the Robert Q. Lewis days of the show. Instead it was more of the Dennis James style, but with two uncomfortable people instead of one. They did keep the game moving, but it was so stoic and very hard to watch sometimes.
What also irked me was that they inserted their sketches into The Names The Same when they weren't really needed at all. I know I liked the demonstrations on I've Got A Secret, To Tell The Truth and What's My Line, but at least they had some connections to the game. The comedy bits here had no bearing whatsoever and was simply added to pad out the show since the panelists were getting so good at the game, it was hard to stump them anymore. To be blunt, it made the show more of a chore to sit through with the sketches. Some were silly, but the majority of them were downright terrible.
Honestly that's it for Bob and Ray. There isn't much to say about them other than they were very uncomfortable when they weren't doing their bits and when they were doing their bits, it came off as tacked on and turned The Name's The Same into a revival of The Bob And Ray show. After 10 weeks, the writing was on the wall and they were corpsing....wait, corpsing?
And they had to do it again.
We then got proficient host Clifton Fadiman to take over for the last 13 or so weeks of the show's run. I often wonder why Clifton didn't get another hosting gig after this. When he was filling in for Robert Q. Lewis during his run, he'd seem like a prime candidate to take over for him when the show was revived. He also proved his merit when he filled in for John Charles Daly for a couple weeks on What's My Line. Why he didn't get a hosting gig is beyond me.
Now, I should say this. Were Bob and Ray completely terrible? Not really. They just didn't fit the show. They would continue to be good at what they did after this, and that's comedy on radio and on TV as well. This brings me to this little nugget from the early days of Saturday Night Live from 1979 when Bob, Ray, Jane Curtin, Lorraine Newman and Gilda Radner all had their take on a hit of the day from Rod Stewart.
Truly two great comedic talents,
just not two good hosts.