Sunday, October 12, 2008

CBS Promo for "Spin-Off"

Here is a selection of filmed CBS promos for game shows airing in the 1975 season. There are promos for "The Joker's Wild", "Spin-Off" and "Now You See It". What's especially significant about the "Spin-Off" promo is it's probably the only footage you'll ever see on the show.

Presumably, the tapes were found a few years ago for "Spin-Off"'s 55 or so episodes (the show only ran for 11 weeks) at WCBS in New York, but no one is jumping at the chance to air them again, presuming the tapes are in airable condition.

When "The Joker's Wild" went off the air in June 1975, "Spin-Off" was its replacement. One of the very few network game shows from the New York-based packager Nicholson-Muir Productions, it was said to be an early TV adaptation of "Yahtzee". Married couples competed, answering questions to win the right to spin five displays in front of them. The displays flashed numbers at the rate of 17 different numbers from 1-6 per second; I'm presuming that the displays weren't totally random, like "Press Your Luck"'s patterns on its game board which in one case were studied and conquered, but the faster flash rate of 17 per second probably thwarted any attempts at memorization. Whichever couple made the best hand won the game and cash, with two out of three earning the couple the chance to play the Super Spin-Off for $10,000.

"Spin-Off"'s pilot was shot at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York, with veteran game show producer Willie Stein as showrunner and veteran soap opera director Bob Schwarz at the helm. The series was produced at Television City, and Jim Lange hosted, fresh off his stint hosting "The Dating Game". However, the show was not able to overcome NBC's "Celebrity Sweepstakes" in the ratings, and after just a few weeks on the air, "Spin-Off" spun off into TV oblivion, to be replaced by a newer, more exciting show from Bill Carruthers Productions called "Give n Take", hosted by - surprise - Jim Lange.

While Nick Nicholson and Roger Muir blew their chance at network TV game shows, they had plenty of minor successes in syndication, with shows like "The Money Makers", "Pay Cards", "Super Pay Cards", "The Shopping Game" (perhaps their rarest show, hosted by Art James and produced for a little-carried early cable network named SPN that also aired public-domain movies from Poverty Row studios, reruns of "I Married Joan" and auction programming), and the later version of "Howdy Doody" (Muir was a producer of the show when it was an NBC property, and Nicholson briefly played Clarabell). Nicholson and Muir also were the credited creators of Chuck Barris' "Newlywed Game". Another hallmark of these N-M-P shows was their reluctance to tape in Hollywood or New York - "Pay Cards" was done in Cincinnati, "Super Pay Cards" in Canada, and "The Shopping Game" in Nashville.

Here are the promos - if you listen carefully at the very end of the "Spin-Off" promo you'll faintly hear the first few bars of Nicholson's appropriately whirling-dervish-like electronic theme for the show.


Callie said...

Is it me, or did I hear Johnny Olsen's voice during the promos?

Dave Mackey said...

Yes, because Johnny Olsen was the announcer for "NYSI". There were about two or three weeks where he had a conflict or illness and was temporarily replaced by Gene Wood.