#147 - The Reel to Reel Picture Show
Unfrozen Game Show Host given unfunded game show in bankruptcy before the first episode taped.
PAX (Now ION) (1998)
Text by: Robert Seidelman
(Seidelman Note: This induction is dedicated to a friend of mine and big movie buff who passed away on April 5, 2013 at the way too young age of 23. Andy Duke, rest in peace my friend. This induction is for you.)
I get a lot of requests for shows, hosts and other game show miscelania to put on the website. At last check, I have 70 inductions in the queue to put on. As much as I would like to get to all of them, some are just not that easy to do, whether it was because of lack of material or just not enough time to make something really good. Thankfully this time out, I do have have the material and I don't have to spend a lot of time to work out why this belongs on the website. Yay me.
Quick backstory. Bud Paxson created PAX on August 31, 1998. One of the first shows he put on the network was The Reel To Reel Picture Show. It was based off of a Canadian board game of the same name and the show was designed to help push more board games in the states. Bud ordered 200 episodes of the show. The producers only gave Bud 25 before going bankrupt. Now, good game shows have gone bankrupt before and couldn't pay the people who worked on it i.e. Pitfall. But Reel to Reel isn't as good as Pitfall, nor as good as the board game it was based off of. Shall we see just how bad it was?
Now, the host is someone who is well known to the game show world in Peter Marshall. Peter usually is a good host, but something seemed off in this case. He didn't have the usual demeanor of his, nor the poise that he carried when he was doing Hollywood Squares, All-Star Blitz or even Yahtzee. The running gag around the fandom was that Peter Marshall was in cryogenic sleep before he was unthawed 30 minutes prior to hosting this show. I actually would believe that gag to have some weight. Peter just looked unrehearsed and unready. If they had thawed him out a day prior and gave him that amount of time to rehearse and get ready, he'd have done a much better job...or probably ducked out of doing this show altogether.
The gameplay is about as exciting to watch as the season of At The Movies with the two Bens. Two contestants compete with two celebrities. Why the celebrities? Why not. Anyways, the contestant hits a randomizer and the computer selects a category and a dollar amount randomly out of 6 categories and 3 point amounts. Peter than asks a question and if they get it right they earn the points. On some questions, there is a Take Two attached where if they answer a bonus question right, they get double the points. However, if wrong, they lose the points. I am not a fan of this style since a bonus question should be just that, a bonus. If you want to make something have a penalty for getting a bonus wrong, then give them the option to refuse it, especially if its early and they only have a few points in the game. Otherwise, it's just a waste.
At the end of the first round, we get 3 True/False or Multiple Choice questions worth 300 points each with the third being about the opposing celebrity. This would often lead into a story about said celebs involvement with the question. Whomever is ahead at the end of that round wins a prize. Sometimes this round can be kind of drag. Actually, this brings me to my biggest problem with this show altogether. If you're not into movies, like at all, you'll be bored quickly. If you would like to see more visual questions or even audio questions for theme songs to movies, then you'll be bored really quickly too. There's nothing fresh that has been brought to the table with this show. But let's move on to the second half of the show.
We then go into the Directors Chair round next where the teams are given a choice of six categories to pick out and are asked six questions in said category. The first question being worth 100 points, the second worth 200, third 400, fourth 800, fifth 1000 and the last won being worth 2000 with the trailing team picking first. Just like the last round, the team that's ahead wins the game and a prize. While the escelating values of the questions make it more interesting in theory, it's still just the same old game with the same boring style of questions. Not only that, I honestly feel that they just ripped the questions for their own game and put them on the show.
Speaking of which, before the
bonus round Peter hocks the big disc of questions known as the home
game. The script from the show even goes so far as to buy multiple
ones for the film buff and for yourself....as a gift. I may have
gotten the words wrong, but it basically solidified the premise stated
above: The production company only made this show to sell more of
home game. One of these days, Jim Williams needs to write a commentary about the game, since he actually has a copy at his place. But I digress.
The bonus round i.e. the Silver Screen round actually changes the format up a bit. Six questions are asked and the answers to the questions are clues to a famous movie, person or place. After all 6 questions are asked, the winning team gets 10 seconds to talk it over and come up with the answer, doing so wins a big movie trip. I actually like this round, as it adds more to a lackluster format. I just wish this idea would have been utilized for the front game instead of hitting randomizer, answer question, hope you don't get a take two, repeat for 10 minutes.
I would say the contestants enjoyed their time...but they didn't get their prizes because after 25 episodes taped, TIL productions went bust. The contestants sued and a couple of them actually did get some restitution for their gifts. However, the guest stars who appeared on the show didn't get paid, and neither did the announcer Bill Armstrong or Peter Marshall for that matter. I would like to think that the first thing you do when you put together a game show, have enough to pay your talent and your contestants. I don't know if even the production crew got paid. I'm not talking Peter Marshall, I'm talking about the camera people, the lighting people, among others that make the show run behind the scenes that you see briefly in the credits.
To wrap it all up, the show was just flat boring. The front game had no variety in the questions, save for when they had the questions become multiple choice or true/false. The set is ok, but looks kind of lame at the same time and to put the nice little bow on the top of it, this show as designed for movie buffs and if you weren't a movie buff or watched movies whatsoever, you wouldn't enjoy it at all. Either way, if the show had taped all 200 episodes ordered, the viewers would have drifted away to something else, maybe to more reruns of Bonanza or The Big Valley that they aired before that.
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