Tonight I've got a real Saturday the 13th Special for you. It's the pilot for a crazy TV show called "The Plot Thickens" made in 1963, that never aired, and after I explain the concept, you'll probably understand why!
Let me see if I can explain this! "The Plot Thickens" was a game show with a panel of celebrities competing for $500.00 cash! The panel watches a special ten minute murder movie that was made specifically for the show, and afterwards, the suspects are brought into the studio and questioned. After a series of questions, the panel makes their choices of who they think the murderer is.
The wonderful Warrene (The Phantom Planet, Black Zoo, Rat Fink) Ott is the hostess/bailiff for the show. That's the black cat mascot of the show there with her!
The host of the show was Jack Linkletter, the son of the great Art Linkletter. Jack also hosted the great folk music show on TV called "Hootenanny" in 1963-1964.
The panel from left to right was Richard Halley who was an actual private detective, then Stanley Ralph Ross, Jan Sterling, and the always charming Groucho Marx.
Part of the deal was that if one of the panelists gets it right and the detective doesn't, then the prize money is doubled to a thousand dollars.
Warrene wheels out the big screen TV so the panel can watch the ten minute production titled "Murder In The Crystal Ball."
This phony swami, his wife and his buddy have been ripping off a whole lot of people, and the swami is ready to call it quits, and get on out of town and retire, but his wife wants to do just one more seance for some high dollar big shots, so he begrudgingly agrees. His lovely wife Lois is played by Linda (Naked Flame) Bennett, and his pal Arnold is played by James T. Callahan, who was also in a "Twilight Zone" episode, "Ninety Years Without Slumbering."
The swami named Kazam was played by the remarkable Arthur Batanides, a staple of 60's and 70's TV. Besides shows like "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible," Arthur was in two "Twilight Zone" episodes, "Mr. Denton On Doomsday," and "The Mirror," and also the "Outer Limits" episode called "Specimen: Unknown."
...............And freaks out one of the members of the group, the guy who brought a gun to the seance, Jay Adler as Mr. Lowe. Jay Adler was in "The Big Combo," "The Killing," and also two "Twilight Zone" episodes, "The Jungle," and "He's Alive."
Before the seance gets a chance to be over, Kazam is shot, and now it's time to figure out whodunnit!
Luckily there was a detective hiding in a closet who heard and saw the whole thing, now we just have to see if the panelists can figure it out!
Pretty much all Groucho can focus on is how beautiful both Linda and Warrene are! Everything else is just a moot point to him!
The actors try their darndest to stay in character, but it's difficult when Groucho Marx is asking you questions!
Panelist Stanley Ralph Ross gets an extra shout out here for his accomplishments in pop culture. Stanley. The big man who did it all stood 6'6" and wrote many episodes of "Batman," "The Man Fron U.N.C.L.E.," and "The Monkees," etc. He also is credited with the ultimate sports comment "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."
When's the last time you saw anybody smoking a cigarette on a TV game show? Stanley Ralph Ross died from lung cancer at the age of 64!
Groucho's the only one who correctly figures out who the murderer was, and wins the thousand dollars, but it's not exactly the prize he was seeking!
Here's a couple more nails in the coffin of why this had the potential to be a great show, the story was written by Robert (PSYCHO) Bloch..........
..........And it was a creation of Dungeon Superhero, and gimmick master supreme,
Mr. William Castle. I rest my case!