Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Forgotten TV: Sweethearts (1988)

For every British series successfully adapted for American audiences (i.e. Steptoe & Son becoming Sanford & Son), there's usually a clunker or two mixed in. For example, On The Buses begat Dom DeLuise's short-lived Lotsa Luck in the early 70's.

About 15 years later, independent producer Richard Reid acquired the rights to a short-lived British game show, Sweethearts, hoping to successfully market it here in the US. The British version lasted three months a year earlier, which made this proposition doubly daunting. Reid landed a distribution deal with Multimedia (now part of NBC-Universal) to syndicate the series.

After years of being on the panel on Match Game, Charles Nelson Reilly was tapped to be the show's host. As you'll see, Reilly is already on center stage when he's introduced by announcer Jim McKrell (ex-Celebrity Sweepstakes). Reilly had his own "burden", if you will, with him. Like Paul Lynde, Tim Conway, and Jerry Van Dyke, just to name three, Reilly was not a successful headliner, having flopped with a pair of Saturday morning series in the 70's (Lidsville & Uncle Croc's Block, for those of you scoring at home) after a 2 year run as a supporting player on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Tasking Reilly with his first hosting job only made selling Sweethearts that much harder for Reid.

Following is a sample episode:

The game play was a mix of Newlywed Game mashed up with To Tell The Truth, but with three celebrities on the panel, instead of four as on Truth. You can bank on the estates of Chuck Barris and Mark Goodson disavowing any knowledge of this series being pitched to them.

To be fair, the American Sweethearts outlasted its British counterpart by 9 months, going for a full year before cancellation. Conversely, Heatter-Quigley's 1972 Saturday morning game, Runaround, was a 1 year flop for NBC, but found new life in England for several years.

No rating. I don't think this show played in the 518.

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