Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tidbit Tuesday: Truth or Consequences

Are you a fan of game shows?

At one time, I was an avid follower of Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak’s snarky yet gracious personality mixed with the fun of trying to solve the puzzle before the contestants drew me in. Then life got busy, and I watched fewer and fewer episodes.

Today, television is home to dozens of game shows: The $100,000 Pyramid (which started out as The $10,000 Pyramid in 1973), 25 Words or Less, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, Beat Shazam, Brain Games, Cash Cab, and Family Feud, just to name a few.

Radio hosted game shows long before television, with one of the first being Ralph Edwards’s Truth or Consequences. In an interview, Edwards stated the idea came from a favorite parlor game called Forfeits. A Victorian era pastime, Forfeits had many iterations, but the commonality was the requirement for the loser to perform a stunt such as barking like a dog, making three people laugh, singing a song, dancing, walking in a circle backwards, or some other silly action.

First broadcast on March 23, 1940, Truth or Consequences was a huge success with listeners. On the show, contestants had two seconds to answer a trivia question before “Beulah the Buzzer” sounded. If the individual didn’t complete the “Truth” portion, there would be “Consequences,” usually an embarrassing stunt. Years later, Edwards would say that most of the contestants preferred to answer incorrectly in order to do the stunt.

On July 1, 1941, the show was the first game show to air on broadcast television. However, the airing was a one-time experiment, and the program didn’t air again on TV until 1950, when the medium had caught on commercially.

Other milestones for the show were the appearance of Superman in Action Comics #127 in December 1948, and the renaming of Hot Springs, New Mexico to Truth or Consequences when the town agree to host a radio episode in exchange for the name change.

A savvy producer, Edwards arranged to have Truth or Consequences to be recorded on 35mm film, using multiple cameras simultaneously-the first TV program recorded before a live audience to do so. In January, 1957, the show became the first program to be broadcast in all time zones from a prerecorded videotape.

Truth or Consequences went off the air in 1958, then attempted a failed revival during the 1977-78 season, and again during the 1987-88 season. In 2012, discussions were had about yet another revival, but the show never came to fruition.

Do you enjoy game shows? If so, what is your favorite?

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Learn more about Linda and her book on her website or connect with her online: http:www.LindaShentonMatchett.

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