#131 - Cop Out
Think you know celebrities? What about second degree burns?


Unsold Pilot (1972)
Text by: Robert Seidelman

Chuck Barris in 1972 was experiencing change for the good and the bad.  In 1972, Newlywed Game was still humming on ABC, but Dating Game was dropped and was moved to Syndication as The New Dating Game.  To join The New Dating Game, Chuck Barris decided to reimagine the old 50s show Treasure Hunt with Geoff Edwards and 30 boxes to make The New Treasure Hunt.  But having three shows on the air wasn't enough for Chuck.  He was always coming up with new ideas for shows and getting pilots made for them to sell to networks or syndicators.  One of these pilots was featured on GSN's Raise the Dead marathon where they featured a bunch of unsold pilots.  This pilot had more lights than the Las Vegas Strip and more misses than a Stepford lane.  Here's Cop Out.

Geoff Edwards helmed this pilot and does his always great job.  It always seemed in the 70s and 80s, Geoff Edwards would be the go to guy for pilots.  He did some that sold like Play the Percentages, some that would sell under a different name like Shoot the Works (aka Shoot for the Stars), and some like this that didn't sell at all.  Geoff always has great banter with both celebs and contestants, but this show really didn't highlight that aspect of him.

Let me talk about the set for a second.  This set had to be the smallest set there ever was, but used the most amount of lights possible.  There's the long part with 8 chairs for the celebs and the small part with Geoff's desk that has three chairs and all the lights with it.  The general setup is fine, but looks like the base for a good set.  Quite simply, just plopping down 8 chairs without anyway to distinguish one celeb from another makes it difficult for the person who doesn't know who the celebrity is reeks of laziness.  Another big problem is that there are WAY too many lights and the celebs, contestants and Geoff are WAY too close to them.  I heard a report that the celebs and contestants and Geoff had to be treated for first and second degree burns afterwards.  They could have dimmed the lights on the background or something, or just make the big light grid bigger and have it as a nice background.  As it stood, not only was it bland, it was a safety hazard.  OSHA inspectors would have had a field day with this set.

The format for this game....is about as flimsy as it gets.  Geoff asks a celeb a question about their personal life.  After a zinger, the celeb does answer the question with a straight face.  It is up to the contestants if they are telling the truth or they are copping out.  To help out with this, three celebs help the player out to determine if the celeb is being honest or copping out.  If the contestant is correct, they get $100.  If not, the next question is worth $100 more and the pot is passed to the next person.  In the pilot, all the questions were missed up until the last one where the female contestant was able to get Richard Dawson's question right and win the entire $800 pot.  Already there's problems. 

First of all, the format itself is a really boring affair.  I mean, even the celebrities are not excited at all to be there.  This style of questioning was done better elsewhere and those formats were still on the air in The Hollywood Squares and The Newlywed Game.  The questions are not as shocking or as revealing as the ones that were on the Newlywed Game or the closest show to this at the time, He Said She Said, thus we are left very bored.  Secondly, this is a pilot.  You expect the pilot to show off the great things about the show, like dazzling gameplay or comradery
 with the panel and contestants.  You don't get any of that here.  Instead, the panelists look completely bored and wished they were on Hollywood Squares and like I mentioned above, all the questions were missed save for the last one.  It doesn't really how off how well the game works.  Also, the game moves at a snails pace, even slower than the Game Game.

And that's it really for Cop Out.  There's nothing there to make you go wow or anything.  You just sit there for 22 minutes, maybe laugh at one or two of the zingers given by James Farantino or Richard Dawson, but you won't be amused at the actual answers if they are real or they are a cop out.  Barris was known for pushing the envelope, and he didn't here.  If he had pushed the questions to be more like The Newlywed Game, it might have been interesting to see.  But he played it safe and just ended up with second degree burns.

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