The Movie Masters

AIRDATES AUGUST 2, 1989 - JANUARY 19, 1990

"It's time for everyone's favorite movie game show...The Movie Masters!"

Gene's final game show was a low-budget, nostalgic quiz about classic films.

The game is played by a panel of three regulars, Peggy Cass, Clive Barnes, and Kitty Carlisle, each playing on behalf of a home viewer. They face a board with nine categories. The panelists take turns; on each turn, they pick a category and Gene reads a question, sometimes accompanied by a clip of the film in question. A correct answer closes out that category. Model Lori MacPherson (who was also appearing on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera during the series' run) also removes that category from the board to reveal a piece of a still from a classic film, and the panelist must try to identify the movie.

Each category has two questions; if all three panelists are stumped by both questions, an X is placed over that category and the portion of the picture behind it cannot be revealed.

The first panelist to identify the film earns prizes for their home viewer; a VCR plus one videocassette for every correct answer given in the game.

One of the things that sort of jumps out at a fan is that it includes a few elements that seem to be nods to nostalgic fans of game shows. Many of Gene's questions are fill-in-the-blanks, and the show even opens in the same style as "What's My Line?," with the panelists introducing each other and the final panelist introducing Gene. Norm Blumenthal, producer of the original NBC run of "Concentration," is credited as a consultant for this series.

The finished product is rather staid. It's a quiet game on a no-frills set, and the panelists are wrong far more often than they're right, mostly due to problematic question writing. Many of the questions on the show are about very specific quotes from films, and not necessarily well-known quotes. There's just not a lot of meat to the game.

And that's why you sort of look at Gene and smile as you're watching this show. All the man wanted to do was work, and you see him here on a show that's just quietly sneaking on the air on cable, isn't a particularly strong or lively show, and yet, Gene seems so HAPPY to be there. He has a smile on his face through the whole game and his enthusiasm is boundless. He's getting to do exactly what he wants.