Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Classic TV: The Name of the Game (1968)

In a way, Universal Television & NBC set about reinventing the wheel in the late 60's.

What I mean by that is reinventing the concept of the anthology series. The first such case, it would appear, was The Name of the Game, which ran for three seasons (1968-71), with three rotating leads: Gene Barry (ex-Burke's Law, Bat Masterson), Robert Stack (ex-The Untouchables), and Tony Franciosa, whose last series had been the sitcom, Valentine's Day. The common link was a media conglomerate whose lines of magazines formed the basis for the stories.

Franciosa left during the third season, and so guest stars would fill in when his scheduled episodes would air. The glue holding things together was Susan Saint James, whose character of Peggy Maxwell, I believe, actually worked with all three leads. I never saw the show, so I really don't know all the details.

Game was the 2nd 90 minute series produced for NBC by Universal, with The Virginian being the other. Wagon Train, I think, went to a 90 minute format when it moved to ABC for the end of its run earlier in the decade.

Following is the episode, "All the Old Familiar Faces", uploaded by a YouTube fan channel devoted to guest star Lois Nettleton, and featuring the pop vocal group, the Third Eye, who serve as a sort of Greek chorus, performing the title song throughout the episode.

Could Game be redone today, reflecting on the changes in journalism in the 21st century? Perhaps, if the networks could be persuaded to veer away from the glut of so-called reality television programs....!

No rating.

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