Monday, April 13, 2015

A Classic Reborn (again!): Hollywood Squares (1998)

Hollywood Squares marks 50 years in 2016, so you'd think Sony would be on the watch to see if there's interest in bringing the legendary, star-studded, tic-tac-toe game back one more time. After all, it's been on in some form in each of the last 5 decades, the last incarnation being MTV's regretfully short-lived Hip Hop Squares, which MTV2 gave up on a couple of years back, due largely to airing in late night.

In 1998, Sony brought back Squares, 9 years having passed since the John Davidson era had ended. Actress-comedienne Whoopi Goldberg signed on as both the regular center square and as an executive producer, through her One Ho Productions. Tom Bergeron, formerly of FX's Breakfast Time, took over the MC's chair, with Shadoe Stevens (who'd been on Dave's World in the interim) back as announcer, only this time, Stevens remained in the announcer's booth.

However, after four seasons, Goldberg walked away, and 70's icon Henry Winkler took over as executive producer. Bergeron stayed on, but Stevens was gone, as well. Actors John Moschitta, Jr. & Jeffrey Tambor alternated as announcers, often also serving as panelists. The affiliate network, however, had diminished, and the series ended in 2004 after six years.

Today, Bergeron & Goldberg are both employed by ABC. Whoopi is the current moderator on The View, succeeding Barbara Walters in that role, while Bergeron hosts Dancing With The Stars & America's Funniest Home Videos. He's even doing an infomercial in his spare time. Then again, original host Peter Marshall also went on the infomercial circuit last year, paired with 2nd generation singer Debby Boone. I digress.

Right now, let's take a time trip to the Goldberg era. The episode was uploaded off an airing on GSN, which has long since dropped Squares, even though GSN is a Sony property, too. Martin Mull & Caroline Rhea (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) are on the panel, though Mull wasn't credited for his primetime gig.......

Oh, yeah, before I forget, Whoopi also sings the theme song. Considering that a few years earlier, she'd recorded an a capella cover of Roy Orbison's "You Got It" for her movie, "Boys on the Side", it's a wonder she hasn't tried this more often.

Rating: A.

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