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Tell It to Groucho

Producer: John Guedel
Host: Groucho Marx
Assistants: Jackson Wheeler, Patty Harmon
Taping Info: 1961
Other Pilots: This is a reformulation of the pilot What Do You Want
Made it to Air: Yes, it joined the CBS lineup on January 11, 1962, replacing the drama The Investigators. It last aired on May 31, 1962, when it was replaced by reruns of Brenner.
Availability: The pilot is a DVD Extra on You Bet Your Life: The Best Episodes by Shout Factory

After What Do You Want failed to pick up a sponsor, John Guedel and Groucho Marx tweaked the format a little bit for the pilot Tell It To Groucho. George Fennaman had already moved on to hosting the daytime show Your Surprise Package, so recent The Groucho Show contestants Jack Wheeler (who at the time was the youngest person to climb the Matterhorn) and Patty Harmon (who you may know as Joy Harmon, who was the seductive car washer in Cool Hand Luke).

Like Groucho's other shows, the purpose of the show was not to have a hard quiz, rather it was a showcase for Groucho's interviewing talents. Making another appearance were the cat ladies from the What Do You Want pilot. The number of cats went down from 15 to 13, and the awful wig on the younger lady disappeared. That segment went really long, so there was only one other segment involving one of those people who are so happy you just want to punch them in the mouth who sang "When You're Smiling".

The game element was a guess the picture contest. A contestant was shown a picture and had one-eighth of a second to identify it for $500, followed by a second guess for $250 at a half-second and $100 for a full second. This differed from the actual show, which had three pictures for a half-second at $500 each. On the pilot, Groucho accidentally gave out the answer on one of the pictures, forcing a new picture, which was surprising considering how much Groucho's shows were tightly edited.

I actually thought the other pilot was better. The two assistants were not ready to be on network television and added nothing, whether it was Jack Wheeler trying to be the All-American boy or Patty Harmon acting like a ditzy blonde (I at least hope this was acting). The missing-in-action George Fennaman added the straight man Groucho so desperately needed. Also, this one ended very abruptly, with Groucho congratulating the contestant on his winnings and then immediately a credit roll without so much as a goodbye.

The title card

The vacuous Patty Harmon.

The over-eager Jack Wheeler

More cats

Look how happy he is. Dont you want to slug him?

Groucho would rather hide

It's 17 minutes into the show, so lets play the game.

This pilot has been viewed 6896 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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