Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Classic Reborn: To Tell The Truth (2016)

To Tell The Truth marks its 60th anniversary in December. ABC becomes the 3rd network to pick up the series, after CBS (1956-68) and NBC (1990-1). Of course, there's also been some syndicated runs. To refresh your memory, here's a quick history lesson.

CBS (1956-68): Aired in primetime first, and added a daytime version 6 years later. The evening show ran for 11 years, while the daytime show aired for 6. Bud Collyer hosted both.

Syndicated (1969-78): Collyer was offered the opportunity to return, but was in ill health and declined. Garry Moore came out of retirement to take the gig until his health began to decline. Bill Cullen and Joe Garagiola filled in, with Garagiola inheriting the MC's chair from Moore after the latter went back into retirement one episode into the final season (1977-8).

Syndicated (1980-2): Relative unknown Robin Ward was tapped to host. The traditional set had been altered, and would change again and again in subsequent incarnations.

NBC (1990-1): Australian Gordon Elliott (now the announcer on ABC's The Chew) was the first host, but didn't last long. Ex-Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, moonlighting from ABC Sports, filled in for about a month before ultra busy Alex Trebek (Jeopardy!, Classic Concentration) took over.

Syndicated (2000-2): John O'Hurley (ex-Seinfeld) landed his first game show gig, and would move on to Family Feud a few years after this version of Truth ended.

ABC (June-July 2016): Yes, it's a short-season series, just six episodes, largely to test the waters. Black-ish star Anthony Anderson hosts and is credited as an executive producer. His mother, Doris, joins the fun as a scorekeeper, one of several tweaks to the format. The panel's desk is gone, and the panelists are instead sitting in comfy chairs. There are three regular panelists: reality show vet Nene Leakes, ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose, and TV legend Betty White, who's no stranger to Truth. The 4th chair will be filled by a revolving door, which starts with Anderson's co-star on Black-ish, Tracie Ellis Ross. Among the other changes is a bonus game for two challengers, doubling their chances to stump the panel. Also, Anderson is a lot more involved in the games, firing his share of zingers at both the challengers and the panel. Worse, one panelist is shamed into tweeting a lie made up by Anderson.

Personally, I think Collyer, Cullen, Moore, and Garagiola are turning over in their graves over some of the silliness. Yes, there are some oddities, and it's being stressed more than ever. The opener, the first of two episodes tonight, featured a pole dancer, a contortionist, and "America's fastest texter".

Unfortunately, trying to stretch the show to an hour is asking for trouble, something ABC will also find out with the revivals of Match Game and The $100,000 Pyramid later this month. The longer format, while it works for Price is Right (because it's been an hour-long show for so long), actually dilutes Truth, and it's not quite as fun.

Here's a promo with Anderson:

One hour per episode. Six episodes over 5 weeks. Shows a distinct lack of faith on the part of ABC. If they were really serious about their Sunday game show block, Truth would be part of it.

Rating: B-.

No comments: