Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Might've Been: Judge For Yourself (1953)

Not everything Mark Goodson & Bill Todman did turned to gold.

The game show icons tried a talent show of a different sort for NBC in 1953 with Judge For Yourself, which lasted six months on the air. Comedian Fred Allen served as host, and while Don Pardo was the off-camera announcer, Dennis James, who'd host a few game shows of his own later on, was the one to introduce Allen. Don't ask me why that is.

Allen would start with a monologue, and it was clear he wasn't accustomed to being in front of the camera to do a television show live, as opposed to his long running radio show, Allen's Alley. The nerves were obvious in the opener. What NBC and sponsor DeSoto hoped for was something that could capture the spirit of Groucho Marx's hit, You Bet Your Life, which DeSoto also sponsored. Didn't happen. As was the case with a lot of shows that needed help back in those days, the format was tweaked in mid-stream, and that didn't exactly help things along.

Post-Judge, Allen switched networks, and joined the panel of another Goodson-Todman show, What's My Line?, until his passing in 1956.

Following is the series opener, edited to eliminate commercials, and taken from a GSN broadcast several years later, with an intro by Orson Bean.

I mentioned the tweaks made mid-stream. Chief among those was the elimination of professional judges, which might not have been the right move to make under the circumstances.

Rating: B-.

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