QUIZ CRAZE by Thomas A. DeLong


America's Infatuation with Game Shows
Email this review


 A conscientious but uninvolving history of American quiz shows from the 30's on. Hundreds of dedicated radio and TV fans could have outlined this book themselves: the pioneer radio successes of Vox Populi and Professor Quiz; the rapid spread of quiz shows across the country; the phenomenon of the Quiz Kids; the impact of WW II (mostly uniforms and boosterism) on the genre; the shift to the competing medium of TV; the 1958 quiz-fixing scandals; the return of game shows on daytime TV. DeLong (Pops: Paul Whiteman, King of Jazz, 1983) adds breadth--details culled from old newspaper and magazine stories, published reminiscences, and more recent interviews--without depth. The result is a breathless Cook's tour of over 250 game shows with few memorable portraits (Groucho Marx, Charles Van Doren, Mark Goodson) and even fewer insights along the subtitle's promised line (a typical conclusion: ``Quiz and game shows remain a part of a new Horatio Alger story: get on a show and strike it rich''). DeLong's determination to say something about so many different shows leads him to say pretty much the same thing--opening date, thumbnail sketch of emcee, one or two anecdotes (enraptured audiences, intransigent contestants, unzipped flies)--about each one. As social history, the text adds surprisingly little to the appended production credits; as narrative, it rarely strays from the ``that-reminds-me-of-Allen-Ludden's-other-show'' category. (Twenty-one photographs, mostly of emcees lording it over their studio sets.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-275-94042-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991