Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Insomniac alert: What's My Line back at GSN

Meant to flag this earlier, but for the next two weeks, GSN is back airing "black and white overnight" episodes of of two classic panel shows. What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret will air weeknights starting at 2 a.m. ET, so set those PVRs. Louis Armstrong is the celebrity mystery guest on the Tuesday night/Wednesday morning episode of What's My Line?, with Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark and Barbara Streisand also featured this week. Carol Burnett, Fred Astaire, Julie Andrews, Danny Kaye and  Paul Newman try to stump the panel next week.
The original What's My Line? ran from 1950 to 1967 with unflappable John Charles Daly as host. Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf and Dorothy Kilgallen were the usual panelists. The show, which originated from Manhattan (for part of its run from David Letterman's Ed Sullivan Theater), is simplicity itself, and offers a level of wit an sophistication rarely glimpsed on TV today. The mystery guest segments are amazing little time capsules and many can be seen on YouTube, with Walt Disney, Salvador Dali and Frank Lloyd Wright all standing out for different reasons. Mid-'50s episodes where Fred Allen is on the panel are among the best.
GSN's scheduling test has me thinkin'--why doesn't cash-strapped CBC try something similar with archived episodes of Front Page Challenge? That long-running panel show also featured surprising guest newsmakers (Malcolm X! Indira Gandhi! Gordie Howe!) and could plug a few holes on a Saturday Night if you know what never comes back.
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