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Simon Says

Producer: Dundas Productions
Host: Bob Barker
Assistants: Susan ?
Taping Info: Early 1970s in California
Made it to Air: No
Availability: It's on the trading circuit

Computers were all the rage in the early 1970s, or at least I've been told. Apparently they were very large, featured a bunch or randomly blinking lights and sounded like the announcer thrown through a modulator. Or at least this pilot would let me to believe. Bob Barker, still with a lucrative gig hosting a syndicated version of Truth or Consequences, was tapped for this hour-long show that was produced for NBC. It is not clear from this pilot whether this would have been daily or weekly.

The show begins with Bob explaining that earlier punch cards were passed out to all 146 audience members (who are all wearing a number) and were then pre-programmed (computer factual error #1: computers cannot be pre-programmed, only programmed) with thousands of facts about the audience. "Simon" points out that the audience member in seat 16 likes to ride cows bareback. Apparently, the audience members were given an incredible lesson in coding in ASCII (or probably EBCDIC on punch cards).

Once the fun of embarrassing audience members is over, the games can then begin. The first game involves an audience member guessing how many dishes she had done in the time of her marriage (computer factual error #2: computers in 1971 could not do graphics at the resolution of the picture of a big stack of dishes shown on the screen). The contestant didn't guess correctly, so instead of winning a dishwasher, she won $10.

Another game featured finding out whether people had things in common. Yet another featured audience members guessing the questionnaire answers from other contestants. A third had men guessing the dimensions of a woman (computer factual error #3: computers did not say "I am computing" while calculating things). Winners got an appliance-level prize, losers got $10. It quickly becomes obvious this is a twist on Let's Make a Deal where the key to the game is not the game itself but rather the banter between Bob Barker and the audience members, trying to coax funny things out of them before a simple 30 second game is played.

If it wasn't for Bob Barker, this truly would have been one of the worst pilots ever. But, with his then 15-year stint on Truth or Consequences, he could handle the audience with ease. The games were pretty insipid and the whole computer motif would have looked hokey to anyone over the age of five. As a side note, the producer (Wesley J. Cox) and the production company (Dundas Productions) were never heard from before or since. Could this had been a nom-de-pilot of Barry-Enright? "The Savers", the first The Joker's Wild theme, was used here as well. Hmmm.

The titling was done by an Epson FX-80.

Bob, doing his thing with the dish lady.

Here's a shot of the 146 audience members. It wasn't 146 by the end.

They are actually guessing a woman's weight on TV.

One of the prizes was an Ampex tape player. Simon incorrectly called this "a stereo."

This pilot has been viewed 8116 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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