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AMERICANS DON'T DO MUCH HEAVY lifting in August, least of all TV executives. That's why the airwaves are ruled this week by a bevy of greatest-hits shows: the 50th anniversary of Candid Camera, a show that began on radio (CBS, Aug. 29, 8 p.m. ET), the 25th anniversary of The Price Is Right (CBS, Aug. 23, 8 p.m. ET), the 10th anniversary of National Geographic's Explorer series (TBS, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. ET). This late in the summer, it's just too hot to do any real programming.
That said, these three shows are pretty entertaining. If you never saw such classic Candid Camera routines as the invisible fish, the sinking diner seat or the donkey in the hotel room, Candid Camera's 50th Anniversary offers a chance to catch up. Hosts Leeza Gibbons and Peter Funt, son of Candid creator Alan Funt (who's ill), serve up a hilarious half-century's worth of pranks, including bits with then fledgling celebs Woody Allen and Dolly Parton and a not yet famous Richard Lewis—he's a 15-year-old student unhappily learning that his aptitude test shows major talent for manual labor. But the best scene features a waitress who so infuriates customers by reading an interminable list of "specials" that the peeved folk finally leave.
From National Geographic Explorer: 10 Incredible Years, we get the usual ferocious crocodiles and playful kangaroos, though the most memorable mammal is an underwater cameraman who, despite being badly gnawed by a shark, continues to pursue his obviously dangerous career. "Without the wild animals, the sharks and so forth, if we just had trout," he explains, "this'd be a pretty boring world."
Happily, 10 Incredible Years contains no footage of trout.
Finally, what can we say about Bob Barker after all these years? Basically we can say that he's still on the job. The least self-congratulatory of the three specials, The Price Is Right 25th Anniversary Special, contains many notable moments, including Vanna White's appearance as a contestant—she was electrifying—before she began flipping letters on Wheel of Fortune. But what is most endearing is that on his anniversary special, Barker still executes his regular game-show duties and ends, as always, by telling viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered. Even on his day off, this guy is working. Which is more than you can say about most folks in Hollywood.
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