Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Might've Been: Don Adams Screen Test (1975)

It can be said that the 70's were the golden age of reality TV. Candid Camera, which seemed to have been around forever, was in syndication. Chuck Barris would create the iconic Gong Show in 1976, and get plenty of mileage out of it. But would you believe that someone decided to develop a reality game based on the concept of a Hollywood screen test?

Ok, would you believe that it managed to last a whole season?

After Get Smart had ended its run in 1971, star Don Adams apparently hitched his wagon to Universal, which would release the feature film, "The Return of Maxwell Smart", aka, "The Nude Bomb", in 1980. Before that, Adams made a couple of 1-year wonders for the studio. The first was 1972's The Partners, which brought Adams back to NBC, Smart's original home. The second was Don Adams Screen Test, which was billed as a game show at the time, but today would be considered more of a reality show.

Contestants were paired with established stars to recreate scenes from famous movies for the screen test, and there were some prizes involved. What Adams, who doubled as executive producer, and Universal had in mind was to show the audience just how difficult a screen test really is.

Unfortunately, while the series lasted 6 1/2 months (26 episodes), it wasn't renewed for a second season, as viewers apparently weren't interested in a disconnect from disbelief, if you will. Good luck trying to find the show now, as all I could come up with was this sample, uploaded by robatsea2009:

Adams wouldn't land another series for a few years, and it didn't help that "The Return of Maxwell Smart" was, in fact, a bomb at the box office. Before reviving Smart yet again, Adams was cast in the cable comedy, Check It Out, which lasted a couple of years.

Rating: B+.

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