Thursday, September 12, 2013

Classic TV: The Dating Game (1965)

Chuck Barris made the outlandish claim in his book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, that he used his hit series, The Dating Game, as a cover for covert activities for the CIA. The only way his mind could be considered dangerous, in this writer's opinion, is if he was totally stoned out of his mind when he wrote the book, which later became a feature film.

The truth is, Barris was ahead of his time when he launched The Dating Game in 1965 on ABC. The series spent nearly a decade centering the network's afternoon lineup, well before it was flooded with soap operas. In addition, the network tried out a primetime, weekly version for a couple of years.

If anything, Barris, and host Jim Lange, could get some credit for helping some future stars get discovered.
In some cases, the network used Dating Game as a means for stars of other network shows to cross over. For example, Burt Reynolds, at the time starring on Hawk, appeared in a 1967 primetime episode:



Other guest stars included Richard Dawson (Hogan's Heroes), Yvonne Craig (Batgirl from Batman), Don Rickles, and Bill Bixby. In fact, Bixby & Dawson were on the same episode.

Edit: 7/15/15: Speaking of "Mr. Warmth", Don Rickles, here he is:



The 70's brought more guest stars, including Michael Jackson, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, and, from the Brady Bunch, Barry Williams & Maureen McCormick, albeit in separate episodes, I think.

Even after ABC ended the series, it soldiered on, returning for another nighttime run in syndication later in the 70's, with Lange back on board. The show returned in the 80's, and went through two hosts, Jeff MacGregor & Elaine Joyce. Same in the 90's, as comic Brad Sherwood, better known for being on Whose Line is it Anyway?, was supplanted by Chuck Woolery after 1 season. Since the Sherwood-Woolery era ended in 1999, there's been no further need, it seems, for the series to return. Or is there?

Rating: B-.

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