Take a Good Look (TV series)
|Take a Good Look|
Kovacs and wife Edie Adams in a promotional photo for the show, 1960.
|Created by||Ernie Kovacs|
|Directed by||Barry Shear
|Presented by||Ernie Kovacs|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||53|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original run||October 22, 1959 – February 9, 1961|
Season 1 consisted of 39 episodes, from October 22, 1959 to July 21, 1960. Season 2 was far shorter, airing just 14 episodes between October 27, 1960 and February 9, 1961. 20 episodes were repackaged for syndication in September 1978.
First appearing on television in 1951, Kovacs was an extremely prolific producer of television comedy throughout the 1950s. As a result of the critical success of his 1957 NBC special Silent Show, Ernie came to Hollywood in 1958, where he had a film contract with Columbia Pictures to write and consult on screenplays — but no television series of his own. At that time, sponsors did not buy commercial time on a television shows as a commodity; rather, a sponsor would produce a television program in its entirety and present it to a network for broadcast. While visiting a Hollywood movie set, Kovacs happened to meet a cigar company executive who was impressed that Kovacs continually smoked a cigar. Ernie was impressed that this corporate executive was carrying a book on Bertold Brecht.
As a result of this chance meeting, a business deal ensued in which Consolidated Cigar/Dutch Masters became the sole sponsor of Ernie's newest idea for a television series. In the show itself, Ernie performed in many Dutch Masters commercials, usually presented as yet another type of "blackout gag" shown during the show and themselves unique due to being done completely in pantomime and directed by Kovacs himself. The Congress of TV Editorial Writers was impressed enough with the silent commercials to award Kovacs with their Madison Avenue Award in 1960.
Kovacs likely took inspiration from his ten appearances as guest panelist on What's My Line? (July–November 1957) and two appearances as a Mystery Guest (September 6, 1956 and September 7, 1957).
Take A Good Look was a parody of the Goodson-Todman panel games of the era: To Tell the Truth, I've Got a Secret, and What's My Line. Kovacs produced and hosted a format similar to those shows, in which a panel of celebrities attempted to guess a secret about a seemingly-ordinary person brought onstage.
Originally, the clues were presented by way of props and short video clips that had no cast, but eventually went exclusively to films of short comedy blackout gags (starring Kovacs and a regular cast of Peggy Connelly, Jolene Brand, and Bobby Lauher) that pertained only vaguely to the person about whom guesses were being made. For example, for a woman whose secret was that she was a harness track jockey, Kovacs would show a short skit about two competing chariot racers trying to sabotage each other during a race. Another example was for a champion bubble blower, Kovacs showed a skit regarding a model train set for a movie scene; the sole hint was the sound a train makes, "choo-choo", and the extreme vagueness of this clue suggests that the skits were meant to be recycled.
Some of the people who were the focus of the guessing game were ordinary people who had experienced an extraordinary event, recently been in the news, or enjoyed a distinction of some kind. A panelist would be awarded one point if they guessed the person's identity/secret. At the end of the show, prizes would be awarded to the home viewer represented by the panelist with the most points.
- Brooks, Tim and March, Earl (2007) "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946–Present", Random House, ISBN 0-345-45542-8, p.1011
- Take a Good Look webpage of the Unofficial Ernie Kovacs website
- Terrace, Vincent (1985) "Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials", Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG/Zoetrope (NY), page 404 ISBN 0-918432-61-8
- "When in Doubt, Punt". Lakeland Ledger. 15 May 1960. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- Heffernan, Harold (5 February 1960). "Life of Riley Over for Bendix". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- Whats My Line EPISODE #369 webpage at TV.COM website
- Ernie Kovacs credits webpage of the IMDB website
- Whats My Line EPISODE #375 webpage at TV.COM website
- Take A Good Look webpage on the Ernie Kovacs Blog website