Saturday, December 31, 2022

My Favorite Things Week #4/Brooks on Books: This Day in Game Show History by Adam Nedeff

I must confess I got a lot of great books in 2022 that I have not been able to read yet, but for today's post I am reviewing something that I DID read and something filled with info about Seventies and Eighties TV: This Day in Game Show History by Adam Nedeff From BearManor media.

It's actually 4 books because, presumably to keep down page count and price, each volume contains 3 months at a time, one chapter/entry for each calendar day of the year. In truth, the paperbacks are still pretty expensive, but I purchased the digital versions. Game show historian Nedeff delivers a fun daily read that could be pored through with ease, though I kept discipline and didn't jump ahead. Using the calendar gimmick as a starting point, he creates a history of games shows. I can't think of any major examples that aren't represented somehow; even though he uses this format and not a conventional encyclopedic format, Nedeff covers so much in here.

For example, just looking at, oh, let's say Volume 2, April-June. May 4, 1987 is the premiere of Classic Concentration, a logical opportunity to discuss the NBC revival of the old classic. The day before that, though, yields May 3, 1955, the date on which Twenty Questions ends, and so we get a history of that radio/TV program.

Birthdays are commemorated as well, of course, as on April 27, the date Casey Kasem entered the world. The legendary DJ didn't have a big presence in this area, but Nedeff tells the story of his super-rare (only a test run in 4 cities) 1999 show 100%.  Deaths get entries as well, and then there are some quirkier choices, like April 10, when Dr. Salk tested the polio vaccine. This is a pathway into talking about Bill Cullen's efforts in dealing with polio.

Many entries are ways to get various bits of info into the book. Take April 9, the debut of TV Guide. Nedeff lists all the issues of the magazine with game-show-themed covers. Leafing through this volume now, I see all kinds of interesting facts, like that Norman Lear hosted a revival of Quiz Kids in 1981 for CBS Cable. And wouldn't you like to see ESPN Plus add episodes of 1988's NFL Trivia Game, hosted by Gabe Kaplan?

Some entries are quite short, others a bit longer, but all are compelling. Nedeff draws from a variety of sources including interviews, contemporary reports, and more, and supplements it all with a wide variety of photos. What could be a haphazard or lazy effort becomes a treasure of trove of info for game show and TV history fans.

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