Considered by many to be one of the largest flops in television history, the show was an attempt to mirror the success that Groucho Marx had enjoyed for many years with You Bet Your Life. Lending the comedic touch as host was TV star Jackie Gleason, joined by Johnny Olson as announcer and Dennis James doing live commercials for sponsor Kellogg's.
A four-member celebrity panel would stick their heads into a life-sized illustration of a famous scene or song lyric and then take turns asking yes/no questions to Gleason to try to figure out what scene they were a part of. If they were able to figure out the scene, 100 CARE Packages were donated in their name; if they were stumped, the packages were donated in Gleason's name.
The celebrity panel on the Premiere consisted of Pat Harrington, Jr., Pat Carroll, Jan Sterling, and Arthur Treacher. Johnny Carson stated that he was on the program in a 1980's Tonight Show interview with Gleason; surviving clips do not show him involved, however.
The first episode of You're in the Picture received negative reviews across the board.
The following Friday (January 27), instead of the game the entire second episode consisted of Gleason sitting in a chair on the now-bare stage and apologizing for the previous week's show. Saying that the show failed because of "the intangibles of show business", Gleason also noted that more than 300 years' worth of show business experience had been involved in the production.
He commented that the program "laid, without a doubt, the biggest bomb in history... This would make the H-Bomb look like a two-inch salute." Acknowledging the critics, he also stated that "you don't have to be Alexander Graham Bell to pick up a telephone and know it's dead."
He also told stories of his other flops (adding at one point "I wish I didn't know so much about these things"), and had one of the illustrations brought out to show what the format was for those "fortunate enough not to see last week's show". He also noted that nobody complimented on how the show itself was after it finished airing, instead mentioning how good the commercials were and that the show went off the air at the right time.
This comical half-hour apology got much better reviews than the game show, and Gleason finished out his series commitment by renaming the program The Jackie Gleason Show and turning it into a talk show.