Thursday, March 16, 2017

Even stars go bowling: Celebrity Bowling (1971)

This was previously covered over at Saturday Morning Archives a ways back. I was pressed for time at the time, and didn't really go into detail, something we'll do this time in taking another look at Celebrity Bowling.

Spun from a 1-shot 1969 syndicated special, Celebrity Bowling hit the air in January 1971, and, depending on where you lived, it either aired as a lead-in for or opposite to ABC's Pro Bowlers Tour. Actor Jed Allan (Lassie, Days of Our Lives) was the series host and play-by-play announcer. A pair of lanes were installed at KTTV in Los Angeles, where the show was taped for 8 seasons, ending in 1978.

A few years after the series ended, Allan was brought back for a revival, which lasted about a year or two. TVS Sports then picked up the rights and tried out another revival in 2008, but that only went 13 episodes.

In 2014, comedian-actor Chris Hardwick, son of PBA Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick, and founder of the Nerdist website, among other things, tried relaunching the series for AMC. However, the cabler opted out virtually at the last minute, choosing to put more emphasis on scripted programming. Ironically, AMC is one of Hardwick's employers, as he hosts Talking Dead, a talk show that airs after The Walking Dead on Sunday nights. The plan had been for twins Randy & Jason Sklar (ex-Cheap Seats) to host this version.

Let's go back to 1971. Emmy winner Frank Gorshin introduces America to his wife, Chris, as they take on Greg Morris (Mission: Impossible) and John Beradino (General Hospital):

More recently, this series has aired on Retro and Decades (check listings). Back in the day, as memory serves, it was a lead in to the Pro Bowlers Tour, at least until the final season and the great affiliate switch in the home district.

Rating: A.

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