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Star Play


Producer: Tom Kennedy Productions/Kalola Productions in association with MCA
Host: Tom Kennedy
Announcer: Rod Roddy
Celebrities: Carol Burnett, Deidre Hall, Willie Aames, Valerie Harper, Pat Harrington Jr., Robert Guillaume
Taping Info: late 1980s
Made it to Air: No
Availability: Unknown

Television can be a very derivative medium. A big hit of the 1987 season was Win, Lose or Draw, which had a weird advantage of being produced by a bona fide A-list star (Burt Reynolds) and a seasoned game show host (Bert Convy). So, that must be the key to why the show works, not minor things like format or playability, so let's try the combination again. For this endeavor, we have Carol Burnett teaming up with Tom Kennedy. And if this one worked, who knows what would have been next. Whoopi Goldberg with Tom Bergeron?

However, there is a twist to this show that is refreshing. It is essentially the combination of two very different shows that Tom Kennedy hosted, Body Language and You Don't Say. The purpose was to have a celebrity player on one of the teams convey one word clues via charades to the two civilian players. Once the clues are guessed, the words would then form a sound a like to a famous person, place or thing. For example, if you were trying to get "Tom Kennedy", the four words could be "bomb", "can", "knee" and "bee". The team that got their puzzle faster won the round for either $100, $200 or $300. In addition, one puzzle was the denoted as a bonus, where the team got a bonus prize if they won the round.

There were some problems with not the game itself, but the way the game was presented. After the team going first established the score to beat, it was not referred to until the completion of the other teams puzzle. I'm not sure if that was by design or not. The smarter thing would be to simply have the second team's clock set to the first team's time, la 80's Pyramid. Also, Tom's podium would pop out of the floor when a puzzle was needed, then immediately go back down. Definite potential for problems there.

The bonus game had no charade component at all. One player and one contestant were given three phrases to unscramble in 60 seconds that were similar to main game clues (e.g.: "pea", "knot" and "putter" for peanut butter). The team (even though only one contributed) got $500 for one puzzle solved, $1,000 for two and $5,000 for three. The word parts were on a magnetic board that could be manipulated either by the designated contestant or celebrity.

After the bonus and a commercial break, there was an audience game (probably because Win, Lose or Draw had one.) Then after the audience game, there was a commercial break and finally the recap. So, once the bonus (and the important part) was over, there was the incentive for the viewer to turn away from not one but two commercial blocks.

The concept of the game is pretty rock solid, since it adds something to the usual charades genre. Also, since Carol Burnett was one of the co-producers (via Kalola Productions), she was going to be a player frequently. However, the pacing of the game had a lot to be desired, since the team's contributions consisted of only three puzzles. Play the regular game with four or five puzzles each and only use the audience game if you have time. Also, for those of you keeping score at home, this episode also came with a pitch film preceding the show.

This pilot has been viewed 7480 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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