I’ve Got A Secret vs. What’s My Line?

(Written 05/21/03)


These shows really can’t be compared, and I know that. They’re supposed to be different, and that’s good. It would be very boring to have them imitate each other. I wrote this article just for fun. I haven’t seen as much WML as IGaS, so of course this is sort of weighted. It’s obvious that I like IGaS more, otherwise this would be a WML website.

What’s My Line? (WML)

Host: John Daly is great. He is the reason I started watching Black and White Overnight in the first place. His use of language simply fascinates me, party because some words just aren’t used much anymore, but I love how technical he gets when they aren’t sure how to answer a question. His long-winded explanations are always good for a laugh, usually confusing the panel more than clarifying.

Panel: They work well together. They don’t interact with each other that much, but there isn’t much of a chance to anyway. They have conferences sometimes and occasionally make comments to each other, but that’s about it. Bennett Cerf works well with John Daly, both of them being very wordy.

The Show: The format is good and mystery guests are cool. The mystery guests usually do voices to confuse the panel, and that’s kind of fun. You don’t really get to see the celebrities “perform” at all though. They just play the game and possibly say a few things, then leave. The only exception I’ve seen is when the man who was the voice of Donald Duck was on, and at the end he said a few things in Donald’s voice.

The jobs the contestants have aren’t usually too funny or interesting, but they are sometimes. Like Steve Allen said, “there is nothing inherently comic about trying to guess an individual’s job*…” The game is always very serious, focusing on guessing the occupation. I never really liked the fact that they flipped a card after a “no” answer. It just limits the questions they can ask even more. They have to be very general at first. That’s actually one of the good things about To Tell the Truth–they could ask ANYTHING, and it didn’t have to be a “yes or no” question.

Although it is serious, sometimes it is very funny.

* this Steve Allen quote was taken from something he wrote for the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was never actually used, but someone who worked for EB posted the whole thing and implied that it was ok to use a quote or two from it. Anyway, it is © 2000, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

I’ve Got A Secret (IGaS)

Host: Garry Moore is a fantastic host, and his “rubber legs” dance is hilarious! He seems like the nicest guy, and he put up with a lot of dangerous/funny/weird secrets that he had to be a part of (e.g., things involving large wild animals, etc).

Panel: All different personalities, some tension sometimes, but never really uncomfortable. I think it was always in good fun anyway. Great chemistry between them all. Bill the “nice guy,” Henry the “mean/bitter guy” and the base of all jokes, Betsy the innocent one, and Jayne/Bess…well, I don’t know an appropriate title, but they’re great! They really balance it out. Henry snaps at Betsy sometimes, but it usually seems funny, not genuinely mean. Some people think that Betsy is rather useless, because she never guesses the secrets. That really isn’t the point of the show though, and she mixes well with the rest of the panel.

The Show: Yes, it is obviously a rip-off of WML. That’s ok though, because they changed enough of it. It isn’t like watching the same show. IGaS is fun. The secrets are usually bizarre, hilarious, or interesting. The “special guest” usually has something clever and funny to do. They actually performed things at the end of the game, which is why I love it so much more than WML. This is a show you really want to watch, rather than just listen to, there IS something to see. They didn’t take the game seriously at all, which made it more fun. I mean who really wants to watch other people try to guess something? WML feels like taking a test in school compared to IGaS. Garry would usually give up all the money to the contestant even if the panel DID guess the secret! One secret had a sandbox on stage, with the panel blindfolded. By the end of the secret they were all on stage throwing sand everywhere! That was actually the moment I decided to start taping everyday. Another cool thing about IGaS is that you get to see all the “new technology.” A lot of it isn’t used at all today. One episode showed a small hovercraft, and they showed an artist’s rendition of large ones in action. They claimed that they would carry tons of people and equipment, and could just go right over waves, because they’d be high enough off the water. Sure, hovercrafts are used for some things, but not like that. They acted like it would be the new mode of transportation. Another secret had a man washing dishes with soundwaves. I find it really interesting hearing them talk about those things, knowing that you don’t see any of that stuff today.


IGaS is my favorite, hands down. It’s fun to watch, has great people, great secrets, and interesting stuff to see. WML is too serious. There really isn’t anything to look at. You could practically just read a list of the jobs, and not even bother watching. However, it’s good that they are different. If people are in a certain mood, they can watch the appropriate show. Although I think I would get sick of watching a serious show more often than I would get sick of watching a fun nonsense show.

I love these shows because you get to see all the old stars. WML is always good for that, even if you don’t get to see them do anything.

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