CBS Daytime


September 19, 1982-September 16, 1983


Gene Wood

Produced by

Mark Goodson Productions

"This is Heather, age 8...This is Tanya, age 6...This is Vaughn, age 7...This is Frederick, age 7 1/2...These kids, and others like them, will try to make you understand what they're talking about on..."

"Child's Play" was a slow-moving but cute comedy game that happened to be Bill's final show for CBS.

For Round 1, the contestants are shown videotapes of as many as three different children defining the same word. The contestant with a target on their podium guesses what the first child was defining. If correct s/he wins one point (and the child who supplied the winning definition gets a $50 savings bond). If wrong, the opponent gets to see another child defining the same word and a chance to guess for one point. If the opponent is wrong, the contestant with the target gets one final definition. The two-definition advantage of each succeeding word went to whoever didn't get the previous word.

After about five words played in this manner, the show shifts gears to the "Fast-Play" round, where both contestants, equipped with lockout buttons, raced to ring in with a correct guess, as they watched a child defining the word. Each correct answer here is worth two points, and when a school bell rings, time is up, and the top scorer wins the game, $500, and a chance to play a bonus game for $5,000.

From the beginning of the series until April 1983, the "Triple Play" round was used. The contestant has 45 seconds to guess six words correctly, from three written difinitions from children for each word. Each right guess was worth $100, getting six paid $5,000.

Notes: Urban game show myth has stated that the definitions used in the Triple Play round were written by Mark Goodson staffers in the way a child might write. This has never been proven, though.

SEAN: Hi, I'm Sean Harrington! I'm 7 years old, and I'm from La Brea, California.
GENE WOOD: You will meet Sean Harrington and these other children this week, as we play the game of kids and definitions...Child's Play!

Beginning in April 1983,the "Turnabout Round" was used. Five of the children appearing in the pre-taped definitions were brought out on stage, and the contestant had 45 seconds to describe seven words. Each word a child guessed correctly was worth $100, with seven winning $5,000. The five kids split $100 for every word guessed and $1,000 for all five.

One of the surprising things about watching this show over two decades later is that a number of familiar names & faces popped up among the children.

Clueless, "Robot Chicken"

"Big Pete" on "The Adventures of Pete & Pete
"Stuart" in Ameritrade ad campaign

"All That"
"Figure It Out"
"The Steve Harvey Show"

"Buzz" from Home Alone 1 & 2

(a.k.a. Jeff McMahon)
"Chunk" from The Goonies

American Pie

"In the Heat of the Night"
"In Living Color"

This show holds a rather odd distinction which I don't think has ever been duplicated on television, and it is this: During the show's one-year run on CBS, the show that aired immediately before it was "The $25,000 Pyramid," the original version of which was hosted by Bill. The show that aired immediately after it was "The Price is Right," the original version of which was hosted by Bill.

Despite the obvious problems with this show, Bill would later refer to it as one of his favorites. I think Bill always privately regretted never having any kids of his own, so getting to do a show involving cute kids, especially during the Turnabout format, probably meant a lot to him. While he generally acted flip on series finales, he's noticably a tad emotional on the finale of "Child's Play." Problems aside, Bill had every right to like a sweet show like this


Bill's press photo

Bill's bio sheet

TV Guide ad for the premiere week.


The "Child's Play" pilot featured a different, and IMHO, better format in the front game.

Child's Play regular Sascha Segan is all grown up! Find out what he's been up to in this special interview!

Up One Level to: The Shows of Bill Cullen

Up Two Levels to: Bill Cullen's World

Up Three Levels to: Game Show Utopia