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Talking Pictures (1968)

Producer: Hatos-Hall
Host: Allen Ludden
Announcer: Jay Stewart
Celebrities: Carol Burnett, Angela Cartwright, Lorne Greene, Stubby Kaye, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead, Tom Smothers, Jan Sterling, Paul Winchell
Taping Info: February 25, 1968, CBS Television City, California
Made it to Air: No
Other Pilots: A prior one taped in 1967 and a later one in 1976.
Availability: Some traders will have it, it is also available through Kinevideo. UCLA has all three pilots.

Hollywood Squares has ushered in a new wave of panel shows, those where you can have many celebrities. Over at CBS, which only has the aging To Tell the Truth on their daytime lineup, could be desperate for a new show. CBS originally passed on the Squares in 1965, so this could be their chance to atone. But, it's Fred Silverman at the head of CBS, so this show really didn't have much of a chance.

So, Allen Ludden, who just saw his Password hit the dust and has yet to Win With the Stars, is the host of this celebrity menagerie that features not one, not two, but ten celebrities. Featured on this episode include Stubby Kaye, Carol Burnett (probably doing Allen a favor), Paul Winchell, Agnes Moorehead, Peter Lawford (is there a pilot he won't do?), Ann Miller, Jan Sterling (who also appeared on the one and only episode of Get The Picture making her the Alison LaPlaca of game shows, I guess), Lorne Greene, Tom Smothers and Angela Cartwright.

Game play represents essentially a cross between Concentration, Eye Guess and Hollywood Squares. At the beginning of each round (there are two), nine of the ten celebrities opens up their Laugh In-like shutters (see the picture below), reveal a secret about themselves, and then closes their door. Contestants then have the fact repeated to them by Ludden, and they alternate guessing which celebrity matched that fact by calling out their number. Essentially, contestants had to remember the story that matched to the number, since which celebrity saying it was irrelevant (for now, anyway). If the player was correct, he or she earned $25. Players did not continue if they answered correctly, it always alternated. The one who didn't reveal their secret was considered the "silent picture" and was impersonating a historical character, but could still have a secret revealed by Allen. In this episode, Paul Winchell portrayed Dracula in round one and Pancho Villa in round two.

After the first round, celebrities changed numbers, and they were revealed again with a new secret. Once the second round was finished, the winner went on to the bonus game. The celebrities changed numbers again, and revealed themselves one-by-one, but this time not giving a clue. Allen then read a clue either from round one or round two followed by the contestant guessing which number belonged to that clue. If the contestant guessed correctly, the player received the amount they won in the main game added to their total. If the celebrity was guessed incorrectly, the door remained open and a contestant called out a different number. Once all ten doors were open, the game was over. A guess of all ten celebrities would have netted a contestant 10 times their main game win.

There were several problems with this game that could easily have been corrected. First, ten celebrities were too much, they probably could have gotten away with seven or eight. Second, the game moved too quickly, not allowing for witty by-play either between other contestants or Allen. Third, the celebrities are hidden behind a door for most of the show, what's the point in having a celebrity if they're seldom seen or heard? Despite that, it wasn't that bad, Allen could have hosted the XFL and it would seem classy. Looking back, CBS wasn't going to take it to their schedule since Fred Silverman hated game shows and it wasn't better than any of the eight daytime shows then on the air either ratings or quality wise (save the Barris shows).

Is it Lets Make a Deal on crack???

Nope, its just the 1968 pilot Talking Pictures.

And here's your host of Talking Pictures, Allen Ludden!

And here are the stars, first, appearing in his 211th pilot Peter Lawford.

From The Sound of Music and Lost in Space, its Angela Cartwright.

From Canada and Bonanza, its Lorne Greene.

From You're In the Picture and the movie Split Second, Jan Sterling.

From Shenanigans and Cat Ballou, Stubby Kaye.

From Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead.

From her own show, Carol Burnett.

And from a recently canceled show, Tom Smothers.

And representing Heinz soup, Ann Miller.

And hes no dummy, it's Paul Winchell as Dracula.

And here's Paul Winchell as Pancho Villa. Paul Winchell had a doctorate from the Acupuncture Research College.

Whew, that's a lot of celebrities. Lets take a break. Oops, it's a pilot, there aren't any commercials.

Here's one contestant.

And here's the other contestant.

This is Jay Stewart for Talking Pictures, a Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Production.

This pilot has been viewed 8339 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
Feedback? Contact me at usgs-pilot at the usgameshows dot net domain