Pop Culture/Classic TV

The Name of the Game: Hip, Happening Prime Time

A now largely forgotten 60’s TV drama, The Name of the Game debuted in 1968 at the height of swinging and turbulent 1960’s. With three leading male stars, Gene Barry, Robert Stack and Tony Franciosa the show was aimed at a hip adult audience, think Don Draper, not Mike Brady and at times tackled some of the

important cultural events of the era (ie.drugs, ecology etc). Each episode was conceived and presented to be very much like a movie and the episodes ran for more than an hour Friday nights on NBC.

With a nifty theme song and a unique storyline- Barry and his colleagues worked for a cutting edge magazine (named People Magazine…hahah)- The Name of the Game remains a time capsule of the later days of cool. It faded away in 1971 as armies of polyester leisure suits and drivable lawmowers invaded and the decade middle America took over.

Of course some of the acting, writing and cinematography of Name of the

Game is corny and cliched but it is worth watching just because of the personalities of Barry, Stack and Franciosa. the female lead was Susan St james and there were episodes that starred othe notables including Robert Culp, Darren McGavin and even Robert Duvall (in the pilot episode).

A typical Name of the Game episode involved a pretty woman, an eccentric millionaire, a gin and tonic and photography…perhaps even some drug or counter-

culture refernces.
It had style..(hey it starred Tony Franciosa…uber cool)..and it aired between High Chaperal and Star Trek on Friday nights…how cool was that? (Star trek was on at 10pm??? jeez no wonder it had low ratings..)

One of the oddest (and coolest) episodes of Name of Game was a Gene Barry episode from 1971...LA 2017....in it Barry’s car veers off the side of the highway outside LA amidst some funky 1971 smog…..and wakes up in a dark, dreary Los Angeles in the year 2017! I think this episode may have even been directed by Steven Spielberg before he was famous.

Unfortunately The Name of the Game never made it to DVD…and there were a lot of episodes…I’ve seen about 20 of them…sometime they show up on You Tube….find one and travel back to an era neat, formulaic TV….bring your shades…;-D