The Choice is Yours

TAPE DATE

November 20, 1970
NETWORK Unknown; Syndication and ABC Network seem to be the most likely candidates, however
PRODUCED BY Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Productions
ANNOUNCER Jay Stewart

"People from 43 states are in our studio audience today! In one moment, we'll ask this cross-section of America to voice their opinions on...The Choice is Yours!"

A tinkered-with photo of Bill showing how he appeared on the uber-Patriotic set of "The Choice is Yours."

A half-hour full of questions and opinions, but none of them involve feedback on the weird set; this rare effort is, as far as we know, Bill's only work for Stefan-Hatos-Monty Hall Productions.

Bill asks the studio audience and the three panelists a hypothetical question, such as “Do you think it’s time to begin teaching sex education in grade schools?” (No, seriously, this was a question in the pilot.) The panelists place their votes and explain their reasoning, after which the studio audience vote their opinions. The panelist(s) whose opinion matches the majority of the studio audience receive points. If all three panelists match the audience majority, they receive 5 points apiece. If two panelists match, they win 10 points each. If only one matches, that panelist wins 15 points. The highest score after four hypothetical situations wins the game and a bonus prize for their designated member of the studio audience (in the pilot, the winner gets a TV with Monty Hall’s picture pasted on it).

Some of the questions are posed in the form of really bad sketch comedy, complete with youth group-calibur acting. In one, for example, a wife has to decide whether to play Scrabble to win or throw the game to appease her opponent, her husband’s annoying boss.

The game takes a rather interesting turn by taking some questions from home viewers asking for advice. In the pilot, the home viewer is a father asking if he should forbid his teenage daughter from attending an anti-Vietnam demonstration.

THE GOOD: Buried somewhere in this weirdness is a potentially fascinating game. Using current events and public opinion polls would certainly have been something new in 1970 when the pilot was taped (and heck, it would even stand out now). The idea of in-studio panelists answering questions from viewers wasn’t new (“Juvenile Jury” and “Life Begins at 80” were both doing this in the 1950s) but making a game show out of it sounds like an interesting concept.

THE BAD: Execution is a little off; the sketch comedy mixed with current events and personal problems is a rather awkward combination. The panelists here try to do a good job of moving the game along but get rather long-winded in their explanations. Were I in charge, I’d nix the incredibly weird sketch comedy segments. I think the game might also be better served with civilian contestants subjected to a “Card Sharks”-style screening process (i.e. the contestants who were good at getting all their points across without getting long-winded). The game itself isn’t that bad, but the slowness and the awkwardness of the execution keep it from hitting the airwaves as it is.

THE...OTHER: The set is cool, I'll say that immediately...having said that, I'm at a loss for what function it's supposed to serve. The audience is segregated by their home states on a set designed to look like a political convention. Red, white and blue are everywhere on the theater-in-a-round set. Most of the audience is even sporting straw hats & campaign buttons. The audience poll results are revealed on a map of the United States next to Bill's podium. The opening theme even consists of a fife and drums, sounding like a game show version of NBC's election night "Decision" theme.

While that's all very interesting, it serves absolutely no function in the course of the game. It never matters that 43% of the audience members from Arkansas voted "yes" or that Massachusetts & Texas audience members agreed on three consecutive answers. And while there is a question about Vietnam, politics are a hundred miles away from this show. What's the point?

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