||October 3, 1977-
April 21, 1978
||Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley Productions
Tom hosted this clever word puzzle game
where the goal was to see how LITTLE help contestants could be to their
Two teams consisting of two celebrities and one contestant, always all men
vs. all women, compete. Two members of each team are sent into isolation and
the remaining players are shown a sentence of six to ten words, and the
subject the sentence is describing. The players alternate eliminating words,
one at a time, until either (A) a player challenges, forcing the opposing
teams to guess, or (B) only one word remains, which is an automatic
challenge to whomever eliminated the previous word.
All four isolated players are then brought out, and the isolated players
from the challenged team confer (without the contestant who stayed onstage)
and guess the subject’s identity. A right answer wins the game for their
team, a wrong answer gives the game to the opponents. Each game pays $100
and a prize package, two games wins the match and the winner plays the
All-Star Game. Contestants remain on the show until they lose two matches,
or win seven. Winning three matches straight nets the contestant a new car.
In the All-Star Game, the four celebrities for the week
randomly draw numbers backstage and stand behind the corresponding numbered
doors. The contestant is shown a sentence and the subject, and eliminates
all but three words.
celebrity behind Door #1 walks out, reads what’s left, and guesses the
subject. A correct guess pays the contestant $100.
The contestant eliminates
another word, leaving two, and the celebrity behind Door #2 gives their
guess. A correct answer pays an additional $200.
The contestant then
eliminates another word, leaving only one, and the celebrity behind Door #3
gives their guess. A correct answer wins the jackpot, but if incorrect, the
celebrity behind Door #4 gives their guess, and if they’re correct the
contestant wins the jackpot. The jackpot starts at $2,000 and increases by
$1,000 every time it’s not won.
A great, clever game. Although at first sight the bonus
payoff seems kind of small, even for the late 1970s, the contestants are
showered with prizes almost throughout the show, so even a loser could walk
away from this show with a good haul. Another interesting aspect is that
there are two good strategies for the front game, and they completely
conflict each other: Eliminate the least important words and hope you get
challenged, or eliminate the most important words and hope to challenge your
My only true complaint
about the show is that the front game seemed a little shortish. How about a
pot of points up for grabs, with each word eliminated adding point? Have the
contestant play to a set goal instead of playing 2 out of 3 rounds, and it
might have worked a little better.
Tom is also
funny here, demonstrating a sarcastic side when the celebrities made unusual
decisions about when to challenge and what to eliminate. In one episode the
subject is “bullets” and only the word “silver” remains, leaving Tom to say,
“Of course, because your partner probably won’t say…BELLS.” It was meant in
fun, and obviously everyone is having fun. Tom was never deadly serious in
any show he did, but this has to be the most light-hearted hosting job he
A full-set shot from the unaired pilot.
Tom was feeling
at ease behind the podium, to say the least.