PROFESSOR YES 'N' NO

Airdate(s):
Circa 1953
Network(s):
Local run: WFIL-TV, Philadelphia (26 weeks)
National run: Weekly syndication
Announcer(s):
Unknown
Produced By:

Lalley & Love, Inc. in association with Tragborn Productions

"Welcome to our modern version of the little red schoolhouse!"

"The Dean of Emcees" was a mere professor on this obscure contest show.

Bill, sitting totally alone in a classroom setting, makes a series of academic statements to the viewer at home. The viewer at home must fill out a postcard with the numbers #1-15. For each statement Bill makes, the viewer writes "Yes" (true) or "No" (false). The viewer has until midnight the following day to send their postcard to their local station, with the winner receiving a grand prize. Prizes were coordinated not by the series, but by each station, so some cities may have only had one winner, while other cities may have had 2nd prizes, 3rd prizes, etc.

Although there are 15 statements for the viewer to contend with, Bill only makes 13 of those statements. Number 8 is dubbed into the show by each local station as part of a commercial for the local sponsor (although I'm guessing that the producers alerted the station about if the answer had to be "yes" or "no," as Bill announces the #8 answer for the previous week in my copy), and Number 15 is a statement written by viewers themselves, essentially as a tiebreaker; the creativity of the statement will determine the winner.

This is a surprisingly fascinating show for anyone who's interested in the early evolution of television. Even in 1953, the attention span of the viewer was an issue for producers, and "Professor Yes 'n' No" was cautiously aware of the need to do more than just air a radio show with a picture attachment. Bill has a prop and does a minor visual demonstration for every statement.

The show is also keen enough to make use of the "gimmick" of the series, by making sure the man in the robe really comes across as a professor. Bill makes use of a blackboard and map for a few statements on each show (including a statement about Mafia symbolism, in which Bill slams his chalk-covered hand against the board...I just thought that looked cool for whatever reason).

Yes, Bill is the dean of emcees, but this isn't his finest work...It's not his fault, though. (Betcha saw that clarification coming...) 15 minutes is a tight slot, and with local sponsor cutaways eating up so much time as well as contest rules to go through for each show and visual demonstrations for each questions, Bill  is operating with a full script here. The man who shone with ad-libs and off-the-cuff remarks his entire career is, on this show, reciting start to finish from cue cards. To put a guy like Bill into an empty room with a script is a serious misuse.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This page of Bill Cullen's World was made possible by the generosity of Matt Ottinger, webmaster of The Bill Cullen Homepage. Matt provided this site with a copy of the show to review, as well as some factual information.

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