Monday, June 29, 2020

National Camera Day reminds us of Candid Camera

On this National Camera Day, I am thking about a TV series that has had multiple incarnations and always seems to to have a revival in the works yet is nowhere near the pop culture phenomenon it was in the BOTNS era; Candid Camera.

One of the forerunners of reality shows like America's Funniest Home Videos and countless others, Camera began as a series of film shorts before heading to TV in 1948! Since then, the show has aired in broadcast syndication, network TV, and cable in a variety of formats and time slots. Creator Allen Funt's son Peter keeps the brand alive, and the company's official YouTube channel is active and runs classic clips on a regular basis.

It's not the same as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, though, when the catchphrase, "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" was ubiquitous as a way to indicate an embarrassing situation or humorous reveal. Has the concept been genericized by years of imitative hidden-camera projects? I think there is still room today for the old-school incarnations. Some of the old pranks are only too relevant today:

It's easy to envision old episodes or highlight packages showing up on, say, Amazon Prime Video at random one day. For now, it's good that Peter Funt is still out there promoting Candid Camera.

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