Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Classic Reborn: Break The Bank (1976)

Break The Bank marked the return of producer Dan Enright to American television following the infamous quiz show scandals of the 50's. Business partner Jack Barry had, shall we say, paved the way by returning himself a few years earlier, and finding success with The Joker's Wild on CBS.

Bank was the 2nd series to bear the name. The first was a completely unrelated show that aired on radio and television between 1948-57, with hosts including Bert Parks and Bud Collyer. The 1976 series began as a daily show on ABC that should've been on a little longer, but network suits saw more value in expanding two of the soaps at the back end of the lineup---One Life To Live & General Hospital, and so they dumped Bank after 3 months, which was the usual lifespan for a lot of games back in those days.

Veteran Tom Kennedy hosted the network edition, which was decried in some circles as a rip-off of NBC's Hollywood Squares because of the use of 9 celebrity panelists, albeit in a different game grid. Some of the same panelists also would routinely appear on Squares, which was a morning show, anyway, so there was no issue there.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.



Dig that funky music, yo! Bank quickly returned in syndication in September 1976, with co-executive producer Barry taking over as MC, as Kennedy, very much in demand by the networks, had moved on. However, the weekly series lasted just the one season, still dogged by the comparisons to Squares. It was a fun time, though.

There would be a 3rd series to bear the title, Break the Bank, just a few years later, and we'll look at that another time.

Rating: A.

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