9 November 2005 | DeanNYC
The D.O.G. Watch!
"...From Television City In Hollywood!" I got to see a taping of this program in person, during its 90 minute format.
You have to keep in mind that CBS had no real toehold in the "late night" wars at that time, that Johnny Carson was still King, but there were hints that the reign was soon to end: Arsenio Hall was barking and starting to change the style and format of the talk show and that David Letterman was on NBC following Carson, and gaining a lot of attention.
Pat Sajak, always very personable with the contestants on "Wheel Of Fortune," tried his hand at interviewing. Where he only had to actually converse with the players on "Wheel" for roughly thirty seconds, here, he had to quiz well known celebrities for minutes at a time and actually "chat." I don't think he was prepared for such a task.
As if that wasn't bad enough, he did something really shocking: he attempted comedy! In fact, I'm surprised that David Letterman didn't sue Sajak and the show for what they did, which was all but swipe Dave's style and delivery, making Sajak a Letterman impressionist on a nightly basis. The title of this summary was the name of one of their running bits, where Sajak would point out what the daytime talk shows were discussing: Donahue, Oprah and Geraldo: hence the D.O.G. Watch. And yeah, the bit was about as funny as reading that was.
The whole program was an unfortunate error for everyone involved. Other victims were the show's band leader, famed Jazz saxophonist Tom Scott, who also penned the program's theme music (Scott was also designated this role for the disastrous Chevy Chase talk show, so maybe he's got a streak of bad luck when it comes to this), and Dan Miller (II), the program's "Gary Owens" style announcer, who was also saddled with various sketches like running for "Mayor of Television City," another inspired, yet bankrupt (if I can borrow a "Wheel" word) of humor skit. Cleverly, he has managed to keep this program's resume notation off of his IMDb page!
There was one bright spot in all of this, though it was a personal one. According to Pat's official website, he met and fell in love with his wife while working on the show. At least that made it worth the trouble for them!
The show was pared back to an hour from its original 90 minutes, and the host left before his name was removed from the title, eventually to be sent to Talk Show Purgatory.
Luckily, Sajak was able to retrieve his game show gig, where he has comfortably and successfully been to this day, though, in 2003, he did take a stab at another interview style show for Fox News, thankfully without any attempts at monologues or "desk humor."