Sunday, June 8, 2014

Classic TV: Tic Tac Dough (1956)

As kids, we all played old fashioned tic-tac-toe on a piece of scrap paper. One sheet of paper could lead to an infinite number of games played during recess. It was total fun.

In 1956, Jack Barry took that simple little game and turned it into a television classic.

Tic Tac Dough first aired on NBC, and ran for 3 years. Barry hosted the daytime version for the first two, before the game show scandals forced him off the air. Since the show was set in New York, Gene Rayburn, a few years before Match Game, took over, followed by someone named Jay Jackson. At night, Win Eliot was the series host. Eliot is better known as a sportscaster who anchored The Race of the Week when it aired on either CBS or in syndication in the 70's, mostly from New York horse racing tracks. Oh, but when I moved downtown at the end of the 70's, I ran across a two-volume reference guide on television that told me how Eliot had done the original Dough and other games. Go figure, right?

Blanquepage offers up a sample video:

The series ended in 1959, forever tarnished, or so it seemed, by the fact that the games were in fact fixed, a scandal that was dramatized, though focusing on another Barry game, Twenty-One, in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show", more than 3 decades later.

Barry returned in the 70's, and had paid his penance via The Joker's Wild and other games. In 1978, Dough returned, this time on CBS and in syndication, with both versions helmed by veteran MC Wink Martindale (ex-Gambit, Can You Top This?, etc.). While it didn't last long on CBS, the syndicated version would continue until 1986, but by then, Martindale was gone, replaced by Jim Caldwell. Can you say, jump the shark? Thought you could.

Now, from the Martindale era, comes the series' most successful contestant, Thom McKee:

England's ITC obtained the rights to at least distribute Dough when it was brought back one final time in 1990, with actor Patrick Wayne as host. The game was the same, but because that other tic-tac-toe game, Hollywood Squares, had ended its 1st revival a year earlier, viewers were burned out, and the Wayne era lasted 1 year.

The 1978-86 series' biggest feature was its up-tempo theme, "Crazy Fun", composed by Hal Hidey. Too bad it was never released as a disco record, but that's just me.

Rating: A (covers the 1978-86 era).

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