Greetings, over your orthicon tube (as Percy Dovetonsils used to say),
While, as a rule, I will mainly focus on movies at It Came From the Bottom Shelf, as a bloodshot-eyed TV addict, I also feel compelled to draw your attention to exceptional television shows that may be off your radar. And if ever there was an “off radar” show, it was Take a Good Look.
Shout Factory has absolutely made my year by announcing that they will release all 49 surviving episodes of Ernie Kovacs’ short-lived panel game show Take a Good Look on DVD October 17th (keep reading to see how you can get it earlier). If you know anything about “television’s original genius,” Ernie Kovacs, you probably suspect that this wasn’t an ordinary game show. You’d be right. Take a Good Look was as much a sketch show as a game show, with Ernie and his regulars acting out a series of incomprehensible clues to a stupefied panel of celebrities (often Cesar Romero, Edie Adams, and Hans Conreid).
The show is strange, baffling, and extremely loose, capturing Ernie and his guests at their most relaxed and spontaneous. Shout previously released a couple of excellent Ernie Kovacs box sets, covering the comedian’s entire television career. Despite the fact that those sets contained Ernie’s most celebrated work, the highlights of those boxes for me were the handful of sample episodes they included of Take a Good Look. I can’t wait to own the “Definitive Collection” of the series!
Special Offer: Order this directly from ShoutFactory.com and receive an exclusive bonus DVD, Ernie Kovacs: Private Eye, Private Eye, available while supplies last. Plus, get it shipped TWO WEEKS EARLY with FREE STANDARD SHIPPING (U.S. only)! https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/ernie-kovacs-take-a-good-look-the-definitive-collection?product_id=6380
All 49 existing episodes of this truly offbeat game show from television’s original genius!
October 22, 1959 to July 21, 1960 / October 27, 1960 to March 16, 1961 – Thursdays 10:30- 11:00 p.m. (ABC)
Take A Good Look is Ernie’s aphoristic “if a tree falls in the woods” answer to the panel quiz show. Ernie turns the secret guest show formula on its ear and almost inverts it. In Take A Good Look, it is the host who gives the panel hints about the secret guest’s identity, and in the form of surreal sight gags, blackouts and sketches. The clues only really make sense if you know who the guest is to begin with. Throughout the series’ run, different approaches were taken to address this. Early on in season one, Ernie himself has trouble explaining the show’s formula to the home audience. Throughout the show’s two seasons, panelists periodically complain to Ernie that the clues don’t make sense; there’s one show where Hans Conried protests, “Please, Ernie … tell them it’s rigged!”
All in all, it is Ernie who seems to be enjoying the game the most, making these crazy blackouts as well as the commercials for Dutch Masters cigars. You watch the episodes of this game show and wonder “Did this really air on network television?”
Plus, the first 1,000 orders from ShoutFactory.com will receive an exclusive bonus disc, which will contain:
Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams star in Private Eye, Private Eye, a delicious sketch comedy special lampooning the detective shows that filled the airwaves at the time. Featured are some of Kovacs’ most iconic creations, including Percy Dovetonsils as a Sherlock Holmes character and the Nairobi Trio as safecrackers. Ernie and Edie are supported by Hans Conried, Pat Carroll, and Kovacs stalwart Peter Hanley, and the show was produced by Max Liebman (Your Show of Shows). The show aired as part of the U.S. Steel Hour and hasn’t been seen by the public since its original broadcast in 1961!