Friday, December 17, 2010

Classic game show brings early present

Got an early Christmas present the other night.

My friend, the Giant Rat of Knoxville, called to say that the classic game show "What's My Line?" has returned to the GSN lineup after an absence of a year and a half.


I started watching the series when I had the flu in early 2008 and couldn't sleep. Caught one of the 3 a.m. broadcasts and quickly became hooked. The game was rather simple. What made "What's My Line?" engaging was the show's erudite panel.

For years, the lineup included Hearst Newspapers gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, stage and screen star Arlene Francis and sophisticated book publisher (and Random House co-founder) Bennett Cerf. Guest panelists included former "Tonight Show" host Steve Allen and comedian Fred Allen. The show's host was commentator John Daly, most famous for announcing the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and FDR's death in 1945 on CBS radio.

The best part of the show was the weekly mystery guest, usually an entertainment personality, who would try to stump the (blindfolded) panel. Mystery guests can include everybody from Ted Williams to Eleanor Roosevelt to Ricky Nelson.

What strikes me about the show is the intelligence of the panel. Were it airing today the celebrities would be a bunch of bumbling idiots (just look at the later syndicated version of "What's My Line"). After watching a few episodes you're also reminded just how much we once valued the English language.

Set your DVR some night at 3 a.m. (Eastern) and catch this true gem from yesteryear. Thanks for bringing this back, GSN!

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