Some insight on “Insight”

A particular episode of a classic weekly series was recommended by YouTube recently. I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, some notes about the series itself.

“Insight” was a religious-themed anthology that aired in syndication for more than two decades. Its host and creator was Father Ellwood E. “Bud” Kieser. The 71-year-old priest, who also worked on movie projects, passed away in 2000.

“Insight” had a list of guest stars which read like a who’s who of Hollywood. Ed Asner was in four episodes. Other guests: Mark Hamill, Nichelle Nichols, Jack Klugman, June Lockhart (I’m typing this on her 98th birthday), Martin Sheen (from? Dayton!), John Astin, just to name a few.

I specifically remember watching this episode not long after its original airing…

…in which the aforementioned Astin guest-starred as a one-armed man struggling with loneliness. I can remember Astin’s character’s smoking and his conversations with the kid like it was yesterday. (Scary I can remember that particular episode and I can’t remember what I had for lunch last Tuesday.) Also among the guest stars in this episode: Astin’s then-wife, the remarkable Patty Duke, who passed away in 2016.

But — that’s not the episode YouTube recommended I watch. YouTube and you likely know I’m a game show fan. So YouTube recommended I watch the “Insight” episode which was a parody of a game show. It was a darkly-themed game show.

The faux game show was titled “All Out!” and starred Johnny Mitchell. The show put four contestants in a series of three challenges. Each new challenge is darker than the previous one and, obviously, played for higher stakes leading to the top prize of $100,000 in cash — a staggering amount for the mid-1970s.

CONTENT WARNING: Because the challenges get darker and darker, I’d recommend not watching if you’re not in the right headspace. To be fair to Paulist Productions, this episode was brilliantly written, edited, produced, and acted. Still, at the end of this post, I’m providing a hotlink instead of an embed to be on the safe side. Okay? We good? Onward.

Some notes…

\ Johnny Mitchell was played by Bob Hastings, who hosted a real-life game show. Hastings was the original host of the Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated “Dealer’s Choice” — until a reported controversial on-air comment resulted in his dismissal. Further, Hastings’ over-the-top hosting style on “Dealer’s” wasn’t much different than Mitchell’s hosting style on “All Out!” Fans of “Dealer’s” point out Hastings was “playing the part” of a game show host — which may have also contributed to his dismissal. In any event, TV favorite Jack Clark hosted the rest of “Dealer’s” run.

\ “Room 222” and “St. Elsewhere” fans, watch for Eric Laneuville, who — mild spoiler alert related to the above content warning — played the part of a son of a contestant struggling on whether or not to go for the darkest challenge of them all.

\ “All Out!”, as was the case of many other episodes of “Insight”, was recorded in the famed CBS Television City — the same former home of “The Price is Right” (the game show recently vacated the premises for Glendale), “The Carol Burnett Show,” the first reboots of “Family Feud” and “Card Sharks” plus many other television favorites.

\ The contestants’ desk, as a YouTuber points out in comments, were used in the unsold game show pilot “Countdown.” No, we’re not talking about the legendary UK letters/numbers game show, which would start about seven years after this episode aired. called it “an intriguing mix of ‘Name That Tune’ and ‘High Rollers.'”

…so — with that, here’s the link to “All Out!”

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