Early in this game show, you are reminded of what a different time it was made in, and I don’t mean when the intro proclaims it “television’s gayest game!” It’s when panelist Bennett Cerf is introduced as a “publisher, raconteur and wit.” Try to imagine somebody on Deal or No Deal being willingly labeled with any of those three descriptives. The concept was simple: a celebrity panel asked yes-or-no questions of guests and tried to guess what they did for a living. But the real game—as on You Bet Your Life or, later, Match Game—was listening to the panel reason and trade witticisms. The cocktail banter and the choice of panelists—columnists, politicians—befit a time before the Jerry Springer / Charlie Rose apartheid of low and highbrow talk TV. The stakes may have been low on What’s My Line?, but the conversation was raconteurriffic.
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