Sunday, July 7, 2013

Classic TV: Whose Line is it Anyway? (1998)

After 10 years on radio & television in England, Whose Line Is It Anyway? was imported to the US in 1998, airing on ABC. If you've ever wondered why Drew Carey became the host of The Price is Right after Bob Barker retired, other than the fact that he might've reminded people of original Price host Bill Cullen (hint: crewcut and glasses), well, here it is.

The story is that Whose Line was brought to Carey's attention, presumably by Ryan Stiles, one of his co-stars on The Drew Carey Show and a regular performer on the British version of Whose Line. Carey then pitched the idea to executives at ABC, and, well, the rest is history.

The success of Whose Line also brought benefits for regulars Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady. Mochrie landed some commercial endorsement deals with Mohegan Sun and Nabisco, albeit short-term. Brady was spun off into a self-titled variety series on ABC that showcased his considerable talents as a singer, and from there had a brief daytime run with a syndicated talk show. Currently, Brady, following Carey's footsteps, is hosting another classic game show, Let's Make A Deal, which, depending on where you live, may be coupled with Price on CBS. Later this month, Whose Line returns, this time on CW, with Aisha Tyler (The Talk) taking over for Carey, and joined by Brady, Mochrie, Stiles, and rotating guests.

Whose Line has also led to some similarly themed series after it ended its ABC run. Carey helmed two of them himself, one for CW, and one for the GSN cable network, neither of which was successful. Meanwhile, MTV created a hip-hop themed version, Wild & Out, with Nick Cannon (currently MC'ing America's Got Talent) serving as host. While it has its roots in England, debuting on BBC Radio 4 in 1988, the series may also have some roots here in the US via the comedy game, Make Me Laugh, although the contestant participation on Whose Line is minimal and is part of the improvisational theme of the show, as demonstrated in this clip with special guest star Robin Williams (ex-Mork & Mindy), making a rare return---at the time, anyway---to primetime television after winning an Oscar for "Good Will Hunting":

Could you picture Williams hosting this show? I could.

Rating: A-.

No comments: