Early Installment Weirdness / Game Shows

The long-lived Game Shows viewers see on TV daily – the classics and modern-day shows – are often the result of tweaking the format on the air. Rarely, if ever, does a long-running game show retain the exact feel, flavor and whatever of its early weeks. Often, the producers haven't yet worked out all the kinks in the rules; some gameplay factor that may have worked well in test runs may turn out poorly when actually played out.

In addition, many of the earliest episodes of the long-runners will see the host explain the rules in more detail. Once everyone becomes familiar with how the game works, he'll revert to a brief summary.

By the time a show has been on a few weeks, the rough edges have been smoothed out, contestants are more comfortable with the rules, games involving celebrities will have figured out who plays the game the best and invite them back ... the list goes on.

Examples:

  • Bullseye UK in its first series was very different to the show British viewers came to love. Different music, a full shot of the board being used instead of the well-known split screen used in darts coverage, a preliminary round where the dart players would throw for the bull to decide the order of play, the Bible being a category, non-dart players not only choosing the category but the value as well, the now-familiar Pounds for Points being played for a set amount of cash, no Bully animations at all outside of the intro and end-of-part stings and the lowest scoring team being booted off after the first round. The most striking difference however was that Tony Green was not present at all (although he did appear once on the charity interlude) - Jim Bowen would act as the scorer, clearly struggling with it (it was not unusual for him to have to step in front of the board and move the darts to "check" the scores - possibly as he just needed to stall for time in order to do the calculations!). Tony Green joined the show in Series 2 (albeit out-of-vision, but he would appear on-screen from Series 3 onwards) and the show started to evolve into the better known format.
  • Card Sharks:
    • NBC version: Jim Perry explaining that the champion played "the top cards, the red cards," and the challenger played "the lower cards, the blue cards." It wasn't until almost the end of 1978 that this was dropped, and Perry would only use it again when two new players (following the retirement of an undefeated champion) played or it was a celebrity or Teen Week (when new players played each game). Additionally, the opening spiel was standard ("Ace is high/deuce is low/play them right/and win the dough"), but before long viewers were invited to send in their own poems, which Perry would acknowledge in the opening.
    • CBS version: For the earliest weeks in 1986, Gene Wood's introduction was very simple: "From CBS Television City in Hollywood, it's CAAARRRDDD SHARKS!!!" right before introducing the host. Also, the absence of the car game and the "10 studio audience members"/educated guess questions. Indeed, during the very earliest weeks, questions were very much along the same lines of the NBC version.
  • The Chase was quite subdued in its first series by comparison. The set was darker, and there was a lot less banter involving the Chasers. There were only two Chasers in the roster; the one who was competing was revealed before the titles, and given a profile before facing the first contestant, instead of a humorous mention in a "roll call".
  • Countdown, if one were to see the earliest episodes, looks very different even for those more than familiar with the Richard Whiteley/Carol Vorderman era:
    • The obvious differences in the first Channel 4 episode (rebroadcast as part of the channel's 25th anniversary celebrations) being in the presentation team- Vorderman's role being only to check the workings-out in the numbers game and the roles of putting up tiles fell to "hostesses" Cathy Hytner and Beverly Isherwood. No Susie Dent (resident lexicographer) and celebrity guest in the dictionary corner- this was left to Ted Moult and an "assistant" named Mary. Richard Whiteley's lame puns, on the other hand...
      • In fact, look at clips from pretty much any episode from The '80s and you'll notice that it's not Carol Vorderman putting up the letters and numbers- they went through a couple more after Cathy Hytner left, though. Apparently, even the "vital statistician" role was shared by both Vorderman and a Dr. Linda Barrett for a short period.
    • For much of the show's history the programmes were only half an hour long, now they're three quarters of an hour, and were shown in the late, not mid-afternoon. The edition of the "teatime teaser" (a little puzzle for the viewers at home to do during the break) came in about this time.
    • Of course this pales into comparison with the earlier Calendar Countdown shown on Yorkshire Television - then a spin off of the local news programme! - a pilot of which can at the time of writing be found (however legitimately) on YouTube. For example, the clock ran for 45 seconds instead of the current 30, and many of the rounds never made it into the current version.
  • The Crystal Maze: In the first 2 series, teams who earned between 50 and 99 Gold tokens in the Crystal Dome won an activity day as a prize, with those earning over 100 usually winning a holiday. This was dropped for Series 3 and the activity day would usually be the main prize for teams earning 100 tokens or more - with those earning under 100 simply "winning" a commemorative crystal (Given to all contestants anyway). There were also several games in Series 1 which, had they been introduced a year later, would have been considered Automatic Lock-Ins. Instead the game is simply forfeited and the player is asked to leave the cell.
  • Face The Music had a few interesting wrinkles in the early episodes, namely four contestants playing round 1 (with the lowest scorer being eliminated after Round 1, which matched songs to pictures of famous faces or landmarks), the $10,000 level in the bonus game was played for a prize package (and not awarded as a cash prize, unlike later) and ... most importantly, contestants were more sedated. (In the latter example, contestants did not yell "I GOT IT!" – the show's signature phrase – when they rang in to guess the song.)
  • Family Feud:
    • Dawson version (ABC and syndicated):
      • The original ABC version had the theme played in a lower key and announcer Gene Wood using a more hyped-up voice, as opposed to his more mellow delivery used once the show logged its first couple of months on the air. Also, at least one episode (during the first week) had a new challenging family introduced during the episode's final segment and host Richard Dawson engaging in chit-chat before wrapping up the proceedings for the day. In addition, the buzzer podiums at the Face Off table were thinner, with the more familiar wide buzzers coming several months in.
      • Another early quirk was that, for the first few weeks, the camera shot during Fast Money was noticeably different. Originally, during the second contestant's turn, the camera focused on the entire board, with Richard and the second contestant in front of it, thus meaning that their backs were to the camera when the second contestant's point values were revealed. This soon changed to superimposing the second contestant onto the right half of the board while he asked the survey questions, then cutting between him and the board when the point values were revealed. (All subsequent versions have shot this portion of the round in mostly the same fashion.)
      • Early on, games were only played to 200 points, with single-single-double as the default structure. When this made them drag (thus leading to such filler as the aforementioned chit-chat and introduction of the next family), the point value was upped to 300, and the round structure became single-single-double-triple (sometimes with a third single).
      • At least one early episode had a question - "Name a TV show with a number in its title" - get thrown out during the Face-Off, after only four contestants (two family members on each side) had a chance to answer. Future episodes had one of two things: Each of the remaining contestants were given a chance to answer, in turn, until at least one answer on the survey was revealed or everyone failed to answer. In the latter instance, the question would be edited out and only questions that had at least one successful Face-Off response would be kept. note 
      • Also, for the first couple of weeks of shows, Dawson did not kiss the female contestants; he had picked up this practice on Match Game.
    • Subsequent versions (1988-present):
      • The 1999-present version originally used a single-single-single-triple scoring system, with only one strike in the triple round, throughout Louie Anderson's tenure and into the first season of Richard Karn's. From his second season onward, the show reverted to single-single-double-triple, with a triple-value Sudden Death if neither team has hit 300 after the four usual rounds. At the same time, the theme changed from a generic "party" tune used under Anderson's tenure to a remix of the original theme.
      • At the start of John O'Hurley's run, the show brought back the families doing poses in the intro, as previously seen on the Dawson and Combs runs. This lasted through O'Hurley's entire run, but what didn't last was The Announcer Burton Richardson introducing the families using a more low-pitched and dramatic tone (similar to what he used on Russian Roulette).
      • Steve Harvey's first season didn't have as much sexual or otherwise family-unfriendly material as subsequent ones. The off-color moments that did happen were more organic and spontaneous, and such answers were less likely to appear on the board. This was also the only season taped at Universal Studios in Orlando, which was referenced in the introduction.
  • The Hollywood Squares:
    • Several published histories of the original 1966 version stated that creator Merrill Heatter was disappointed with the early episodes due to the celebrities' joking, which often ground the game to a halt. There was very little actual gameplay (one episode, aired during the first month of the show, had 11 total questions asked, and the next day just eight were asked; surely, there were other episodes with fewer than 10 questions asked). Some quick conferring with the celebrities to get their joke over with and then give their answer plus some editing to chop out the unneeded carrying-on sped up the pace of the game considerably. By the end of November 1966 – a month and a half into the series' run – more than 20 questions were being played a day and the pace was what viewers came to expect.
    • Paul Lynde did not become the permanent center square until about three years in (although he had appeared on the show a few times before). Before he took over, there was no permanent center square.
    • On the 1986 John Davidson-hosted version, the first two or three weeks had the celebrities names in the same narrow font as the original NBC series. This was quickly changed to the wide Helvetica-type font.
    • Early Tom Bergeron-era episodes used the same end game as latter-day NBC daytime episodes — pick a star and simply win cash, a trip and so forth. This was switched with adding a question to win the item in the envelope by the end of the first month on the air.
  • Jeopardy!:
    • The first season of the Alex Trebek revival was quite different from later seasons. As was the case in the original Art Fleming version (1964-75), contestants could ring in as soon as the clue was revealed, and the buzzers made noises to indicate that someone had rung in. Trebek reportedly found the buzzer system a nuisance, and many contestants were screwed over by knee-jerk buzz-ins, so the buzzers were re-tooled to allow a ring-in only after the clue was finished, and temporarily lock out the contestant if he or she rings in too soon. Additionally, the audience track included some "ohs" when a contestant provided an incorrect response or was unable to give an answer (as if to say, "My goodness, he lost money on that answer!").
    • Also, early gameplay was much more relaxed, with lots of chatter from Alex in particular. On the flip side, Trebek was a bit more strict on the rules, snapping at contestants who forgot to phrase in the form of a question, or gave a question clearly inappropriate for the category (i.e., a number answer for a "Letter Perfect" category). His admonishments have softened through the years, as has his hosting style as a whole — nowadays, he's more of a Sophisticated as Hell Deadpan Snarker who's unafraid to laugh and joke around with the contestants without completely dropping his professional demeanor.
    • The clues and category names were originally more straightforward, with only the occasional joke category, compared to the mix of humorous clues, puns, Shout Outs, and Moon Logic Puzzles of today. (For instance, a category that might've been just "Automobiles" in 1984 would probably be something cute like "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" nowadays.)
    • Originally, the shot of the clue was a tight shot of its monitor. Over time, clues were increasingly shot in a way that their text "zoomed out" of the board, with the original monitor shots being phased out over time.
    • Relatedly, if a Daily Double was hit, the camera would show the Daily Double logo blinking in the monitor, which would then display the clue. Eventually, the clue text came to be displayed alongside a shot of the contestant as he or she attempted to give the correct response. Later still, the Daily Double logo began to "flip" out of its monitor and take up the entire screen for a couple seconds. Also, the sound effect was different for the first month or so; it was an electronic one-note crescendo instead of the trilling sound heard to this day.
    • The first week of Season 2 introduced the champion first, and then the two challengers. After that, the show reverted to the longstanding practice of introducing the two challengers before the champion (unless the show began with three new contestants).
  • The Joker's Wild:
    • Most of the early weirdness of the CBS daytime run had to do with the various changes to the bonus game. Originally, the contestant was guaranteed prizes, but after spinning a first time he could spin a second time in an effort to get better prizes. Eventually, this was tweaked to encircle the prizes, with getting three circles earning the contestant a new car (or a luxury trip). Finally, the bonus game that would be used for much of the CBS run – "Jokers and Devils" (spin up to three times to win a prize package, with the third prize the most expensive and desirable gift) – was in place. (Late in the run came the signature bonus game, "Face the Devil.")
    • While the front game was largely intact for the entire CBS and syndicated run, from the beginning to the end, the very earliest CBS shows had a quirky rule that meant an automatic win and game over by a contestant spinning three jokers. This happened once on the first spin of the game, meaning the opponent – a challenger – never had a chance to play, which led to a hasty rule change starting with the next game whereby the contestant spinning three jokers had to answer a question first.
  • Season one of Legends of the Hidden Temple had a much brighter, cleaner, kind of orange tint than the next two seasons, as well as the set not being covered in wildlife and billowing fog. The temple structure was also quite different; the Cave of Sighs, later the Ledges, could be entered and exited, and the temple gate consisted of two large columns rather than an actual gate, as well as the actual staircase leading into the temple behind Olmec's head being significantly closer to ground level. Kirk also wore khaki shorts rather than jeans, and his delivery and commentary were a lot more rough around the edges; this might have been why the next two seasons had Olmec himself deliver the instructions for how to perform each Temple Game and how to cross the moat, which were Kirk's duties in season one. Olmec was also much less of a Large Ham in the first season.
  • Let's Make a Deal, in its original form (1963-77), had a lot of weirdnesses early on.
    • By far the most notable difference was the costumes. For the pilot episode (taped in May 1963) and the first couple of months after the show was picked up as a regular series, there were no costumes — all contestants wore ties and jackets (men) and dresses (women). Sometime in circa February 1964, someone brought a sign to get Monty's attention, and he picked her to play. Future contestants got the hint, and then things totally took off when someone wore an outrageous hat to the studio and was picked.
    • Additionally, there were few variants of the trading theme. Most games were simply do you want this "unknown or that unknown," or "a sure thing or the unknown." Once it was clear the show was going to be a hit, more variants on the original theme were added, as were pricing/consumer knowledge games and those playing on what would become known as the Monty Hall Problem (e.g., "three keys on the board, only one starts a car, I'll demonstrate one that's a dud, and now do you want the sure thing, or to try your key knowing it may be a dud.")
    • Wendell Niles was the show's announcer on both the pilot and the first season. He was replaced in the second season by Jay Stewart, who held the role until the original version ended, and went on to become a prolific announcer on several other shows as well.
    • In the 1984 syndicated version, the biggest difference was the lower stakes of the prizes — usually a base-model subcompact car was the grand prize. By the second week on the air, there were at least mid-level sports cars (including the Chevrolet Camaro) offered.
  • The GSN revival of Lingo (2002-2007) evolved noticeably in its first three seasons:
    • In Season 1, they taped on the set of the Netherlands version. There was no audience, and the theme song was a short, generic loop. The Bonus Round involved making 5 in a row on a Bingo board to win a prize package including a Croton watch and a Borders gift card. Each correctly-guessed 5-letter word won a ball that would go on the board, and only two were needed to win.
    • Season 2 moved to the U.S. with a new blue and wood-grain set. The rules in Bonus Lingo so that the marked-off spaces on the board formed a pattern where 5-in-a-row could be made one one draw. Getting 5-in-a-row on the first draw won a grand prize, and doing so on the second or later draw won a smaller one. Also, for each 5-in-a-row Lingo made in the main game, the winning team also got bonus letters to use if they got stuck (likely because one team in Season 1 won only one ball, and another won zero). However, there was still no model, Randy Thomas (of the Hooked on Phonics "1-800-ABC-DEFG" ads) was announcer, and the shorter theme tune was still used.
    • In Season 3, the set changed to dark blue neon, and the theme tune was replaced with a longer rock piece, two cosmetic changes that stayed until the show's end. The role of model/co-host was also created, first with Stacey Hayes (plus a second model named Paula Cobb for the first two episodes only), then with Shandi Finessey for the rest of the run.
  • Match Game:
    • The 1970s version had a few weirdnesses early on. Most notably, the show was a lot more laid-back and less humor-based, with tamer questions akin to the 1960s original version — no "Dumb Dora" or "boobs" type questions. (Example from the 1973 pilot: "John's daughter came home from college with a ____.") Some questions were even more akin to those that would later be asked on Family Feud (again from the 1973 pilot: "Name a movie star, past or present, with a great body."). The panelists joked around a lot less, and the chemistry hadn't yet formed — Richard Dawson was the only regular, and neither Charles Nelson Reilly nor Brett Somers appeared until several weeks into the run. Over time, the questions got more bawdy, the panel loosened up (usually with the help of booze), and the game soon hit its stride.
    • In addition, the first six months or so of the 1970s run didn't fade in with laughter immediately. Announcer Johnny Olson would typically say, "Get ready to match the stars ... " and introduce at least the first celebrity before someone would hold up a card with a humorous saying to entice laughter. By the late winter of 1974, the audience was so revved up that the laughter was already in progress when the opening shot faded in. Also during the first several months, the closing credits (including the full-credit roll) scrolled up the screen in the standard manner of most shows, only to be replaced by a side-scroll from right to left by the end of 1973, while the end-show plugs were moved to the third commercial break.
    • Also, the ticket plugs were basic with just the address superimposed on a background of rotating lights. This changed to the more familiar Match Game ticket plug featuring mixed faces in 1975.
  • Password
    • The original Password similarly became more and more difficult as its contestants and celebrities got more experienced with the game. However, this zig-zagged with Password Plus, which reverted to slightly easier passwords, but also made it so that points were scored for guessing what each round's Passwords had in common – a master solution as it were, which was not always that easy to guess – and adding a 10-in-60-seconds Bonus Round. (All of this carried over to Super Password.)
    • The first seven weeks of Password Plus had the Alphabetics board suspended by wires, to the left of the main game set from the viewer's vantage point. By the eighth week, it had been moved to a cabinet at stage right, where the celebrities and the host make their entrance. They had to change the board's placement because it hanged so low that people kept hitting their heads on it.
    • Rich Jeffries announced the first few weeks of Super Password instead of Gene Wood, who also did most of Plus. Once Gene took over, Jeffries helped Wood with audience warm-ups (a common second job for announcers).
  • Press Your Luck has several, especially during the first couple of months on the air. By the time the show began hitting its stride just before Christmas 1983, the early weirdness had gone:
    • The most notable was the opening sequence. Rod Roddy simply introduced the players and spoke of how they planned to take each other out in a game of high stakes but needing to avoid the Whammies!
    • Also: contestants were more sedated (no "Big bucks, no Whammies!"); no Whammy foghorn, along with different sound effects and musical cues; an even more primitive light pattern that cycled repeatedly and sometimes skipped over entire portions of the board; only a handful of Whammy animations (and those were less intricate than the ones that came later, once the show became a hit); and different cash values (including a lower Round 1 top value of $1,250) and fewer cash-plus-a-spin spaces.
  • The Price Is Right:
    • During the very early days of the original Bill Cullen era, reportedly there was the possibility that a four-way loss could occur through overbidding on every item up for bids. A rule was quickly introduced where, at Cullen's discretion and to guarantee a daily/weekly champion, certain items would go back to the contestants for bidding if all four contestants overbid.
      • Normally there were four bidding games per show. But a few early shows used five games (one such show is at Shokus Video).
    • As for the current CBS version, the first two years under Bob Barker was a very staid, low-key affair. It was only a half-hour long, almost all of the contestants were housewives, the set was largely brown and orange, the pricing games were very simple, there was no Showcase Showdown, and the Showcases at the end were just prizes presented in a straightforward fashion. When it was apparent the show was going to be a hit, the producers began adding new and more elaborate pricing games, requiring more host-contestant interaction and/or physical activity from the contestant. The Audience Participation increased greatly, as audience members were encouraged to shout out gameplay advice and bids. The set was made brighter and more colorful. The show was also expanded to 60 minutes, thus doubling the number of items up for bids and pricing games, and resulting in the addition of the Showcase Showdown (i.e., the "big wheel") to determine which contestants would play for the big prize Showcases at the end. The models became Ascended Extras, often interacting with Bob during the games. Also, the Showcases often became themed, usually involving the models and/or announcer in some sort of skit.
    • The very earliest CBS shows saw the audience silent at the beginning; in fact, even the first episode had Johnny Olson exclaim to each contestant to "Stand up!" before calling them down. Only by the end of the week were they clapping as the show faded in and was Olson saying the now-trademark "Come on down!"
    • And speaking of the Showcase Showdown, it was introduced in an experimental set of hour-long episodes which had a much smaller carnival wheel and seated the three players at Contestant's Row. Once the hour-long format became permanent, the trademark "Big Wheel" was introduced, with the contestants standing onstage to spin it. And even that has its weirdness — early on, the beep sound it made was much quieter, it did not necessarily have to make a complete revolution, and contestants used just one hand to spin the wheel while facing the audience. Also, should the contestant earn a bonus spin by acquiring exactly $1.00, the bonus spin was originally "$10,000 if you hit $1.00 again, or nothing", as opposed to a smaller bonus should the $.05 or $.15 spaces be hit.
    • Some of the individual pricing games originally had drastically different rules. For instance:
      • Punch a Bunch originally had a far more contrived numbering system regarding the numbered slips that the contestant pulled out of the punchboard — they were some number from the top row, then either a "dollar", "hundred", or "thousand" from the other rows. (So if the contestant punched out a "4" on the top, and a "hundred" on the bottom, he or she would get $400.) Soon, they just switched to using regular slips with cash amounts on them.
      • Penny Ante (now retired): Originally, the contestant had to guess the right prices and be off by no more than a dollar; real pennies would shoot down from the game board for every penny he or she was off. It was later simplified to giving the contestant three big, fake pennies, and taking one away for every wrong guess.
      • Cliff Hangers used four prizes instead of three in its earliest airings. It also used a different yodeling song (specifically, "The Silly Song" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead of its more famous one, "On the Franches Mountains").
      • Plinko had noticeable cosmetic changes, mostly in the reveal of the game itself. The first playing used the final bars of the Family Feud theme (which are also used to introduce Grand Game), and a different reveal for the right prices of the small prizes.
      • Originally with Gas Money, the contestant picked what he or she thought was the car's price first before eliminating the other four prices. This confused many contestants, so the game was changed to "pick the four wrong prices without picking the right one, and you get $10,000 plus the car".
      • Dice Game (roll a die four times, and then determine whether the number you rolled is equal, higher, or lower than the next digit in the price of a car) used numbers beyond those on a standard die in its first episodes. Later, the game was made easier by using cars whose prices have only the numbers 1-6 in them.
      • Grocery Game used to award the actual groceries used for pricing.
      • 1/2 Off didn't originally offer a cash bonus for guessing right prices along the way (which, in turn, eliminates more mystery boxes from play).
      • Hole in One (mini-golf game; every correctly-guessed price puts the contestant closer to the hole) didn't originally have the "…or two" rule.
      • Pass the Buck (determine between two small prizes which one is off by $1; for each correct pick, you get another pick at a six-space board, which has one car, three cash amounts, and two "Lose Everything"s) originally had eight spaces instead of six. The other two were another cash amount and another "Lose Everything".
      • Pick a Pair originally had a set resembling a ferris wheel. The game was out of rotation for almost two years, then returned with a table set.
      • Range Game's range (slide the "range" part of the board up until it's within the set range of the right price) used to be a mere $50, thus making it very hard to win. Quickly, the range grew bigger, to $100 and then just as quickly to the $150 spread used now.
      • Temptation: Initially, the contestant did not have the option to change any numbers in the price they formed; they were told the combined value of the prizes and given the take-it-or-risk-the-prizes-for-the-car option.
      • Under Time is Money's original rules, the contestant had 15 seconds to sort a bunch of grocery items into three price ranges to win a prize. If they got it right the first try, they won the prize and a $500 bonus. If wrong, they could keep the $500 as a bailout, or give it up for a second chance. After only two playings, the rules were changed: the time limit was changed to 20 seconds, the player was now told how many they had right, and the $500 bailout was removed—meaning that the contestant always had a free second chance, making the name of the game practically meaningless. When revived in 2015, the prize was changed to $20,000 if the contestant is correct on their first, 10-second attempt, but the second chance now plays more like Bonkers with an "as many guesses as you can until time runs out" format. Except that the clock is actually the $20,000 draining away.
  • Pyramid evolved significantly by the end of its first year on the air. The early episodes often have teams struggling to guess 2-3 words per round, and sometimes having to guess an entire phrase (an early episode required a team to convey "shall not perish from the earth"!). Some very early episodes supposedly had 8 words instead of 7. By the end of the decade, almost every category had one- or two-word answers, and teams were getting 7 out of 7 more often than not.
    • The first three months (or so) of the 1973 CBS daytime run saw a different opening segment, with the camera focused on the Winner's Circle and announcer Bob Clayton saying the following (as a slow zoom-out happened): "Keep your eye on this spot. You are about to see one celebrity and one contestant step into this circle for the chance to win $10,000 in less than a minute. Ladies and gentlemen...this is The $10,000 Pyramid!" A partition that hid the "Pyramid" from view rose, and then there would be the introduction of celebrities and Dick Clark. After a few days, the partition disappeared, apparently due to difficulty with getting it to raise on cue, but the rest of the intro stayed. When it was clear the show was a hit and there was a good collection of $10,000 wins available, this opening sequence was replaced by the more-familiar "Previously On" sequence.
    • Also, the judging in the Winner's Circle (convey six categories to your partner using only a list) got increasingly strict — no hand movements, no prepositional phrases, and an overall higher regard for precision. One early team even got credit for saying "Things you iron" when the box said "Things you press", which wouldn't have passed in The '80s.
    • The two bonus spaces associated with the show, the "7-11" ($1,100 bonus for getting all 7 words) and "Mystery 7" (a mystery category where the subject is not revealed until after the fact, and sweeping all 7 words earns a bonus prize), went through this too. Originally, the box on the Pyramid board would actually say "Mystery 7", instead of concealing it behind an otherwise-normal category box. Also, the "7-11" initially offered contestants the choice of taking $1,100 for all 7 words, or $50 per correct word, but almost no one ever took the latter option so it was quickly retired.
  • Sale Of The Century:
    • The first 2 1/2 months of the 1980s NBC version had no cash jackpot as the final prize; the top prize was simply all six luxury prizes plus how much ever cash was needed to award the contestant exactly $95,000. Also, the target scores to win a given prize were significantly lower – for instance, only $390 was needed to win a Mercedes Benz sedan ... although contestants were rarely scoring more than $70 per game.
    • The first three weeks (15 episodes) of the 1985-86 syndicated version offered all the prizes and the cash jackpot for $830, and the car for $610. In addition, the contestant/ticket plugs and full credit roll were shown every night!
  • Tattletales originally had jump-in questions which required the celebs to relate a story about their personal lives, interspersed with "quickie" questions which were multiple-choice. After a few months, it became all-quickies.
  • Tic-Tac-Dough, if the 1978 CBS run could be counted, had a number of differences from its far-more famous syndicated run. Getting four X's and four O's resulted in a final tie-breaking question being asked to determine a winner; black boxes, which appeared upon category shuffling after both contestants have had a turn, allowed either contestant to ring in and respond, regardless of who selected that category; outside boxes were $100 and the center box was worth $200 (as opposed to the $200 and $300, respectively, on the syndicated series); and there was a different "Beat the Dragon" bonus game (basically, find the hidden tic-tac-toe to win the prize package).
  • Wheel of Fortune:
    • The earliest NBC daytime Wheel episodes have their own weirdness:
      • The "Buy a Vowel" space required contestants to buy a vowel at that moment, at a cost of $250, potentially bringing the contestant's score to a negative amount (multiple eyewitnesses have reported as such). If no vowels were available, the contestant lost his/her turn.
      • Contestants almost always playing a puzzle out to the last letter (to gain as much money as possible to satisfy Lin Bolen's desire for "shopping") and so forth. By September 1975, the game had progressed to the point where it remained for the rest of the original daytime run.
      • The (unofficially titled) "speed round" — the final spin of the day — was timed for the first few months, and was, depending on time available and size of the puzzle, generally 60-90 seconds although sometimes two minutes for longer puzzles, with time presumably beginning when the first player called a letter. Also, no vowels could be called, or else he/she lost his turn. This led to the possibility of the speed round ending without a winner, although this is virtually impossible to verify because most episodes have long since been erased. Indeed, by the end of 1975, the time limit was dropped, vowels could be called at any time.
      • Apparently, the first prize showcase of the day was selected by the winner of the first round. It's not exactly known the process, but one theory is that — based on Chuck Woolery's interaction with the first-round winning contestant — each contestant made his preference known prior to the show.
      • The total value of the prizes up for grabs rarely exceeded $25,000 in the first few months.
      • Additionally, for about the first year of the show, as announcer Charlie O'Donnell was announcing the value of the prizes up for grabs on that show, the shot faded to an overhead shot of the wheel, with the camera zooming in as the show's logo appeared and a shot superimposed over the center area would eventually fade to host Chuck Woolery coming out. Also, Susan Stafford entered from stage right (from the viewer's vantage point, although this only lasted the first several months) before coming through the curtain as would be customary until the end of the original NBC run.
    • At least two, possibly no more than five, of the earliest syndicated episodes (from the fall of 1983) had prize budgets comparable to the daytime version. One of those episodes featured $55,000 in prizes just waiting to be won … but when a contestant named Cindy won $25,100 in a single round (on "THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA," guessing the P's and C's after landing on $5,000 each of those times) the producers got the hint that this is the nighttime show, we do like to feature longer puzzles and we do have a $5,000 space.
    • The earliest CBS-era episodes had a drastically-slashed prize budget, with the subcompact Subaru Justy (at just over $6,000) and $5,000 cash as the grand prizes. Regular-round bonus prizes were worth as little as $300. And of course, there were the $50 and $75 spaces during the first couple of rounds, spaces not seen since the earliest NBC daytime episodes. By the time Wheel was established on CBS, the value of the bonus prizes – both main game and bonus round – was upped somewhat (although not quite where it was for the last NBC daytime shows), and $100 was re-established as the lowest dollar amount on the wheel.
    • Through the early 1990s, the show itself was a far more relaxed game, with a typically mellower contestant base, very short puzzles, and few gimmicks; commercial breaks in between puzzles were not uncommon, either. Also, contestants spent their winnings in a "shopping" round that ate up a lot of time. Come the 1990s, the show became faster once the shopping rounds were ditched; many more new categories were introduced to bring thematic variety and longer puzzles; and many new gameplay elements were introduced.
    • Heck, as tied to the show as Pat Sajak and Vanna White are, the entire first six years with Chuck and Susan can be seen as weird. Even so, there are still a few old-school fans who prefer Chuck and Susan.
      • Pat's first year could be seen as Early Installment Weirdness for his tenure, since Susan Stafford was still there. To a lesser extent, the pre-syndication Pat/Vanna era could also apply, particularly since it still had the Woolery-era theme song and no audience chant at the beginning.
  • What's My Line?:
    • The very earliest CBS episodes – among those that exist — show evidence of a work in progress:
      • A female model handing out blindfolds for the mystery guest segment (these were left with the panelists later on)
      • Panelists that would be seen as "what the hell" today: an ex-governor, a psychiatrist, a poet, and an entertainment columnist (although to be fair, the entertainment columnist, Dorothy Kilgallen, stayed on until her death 15 years later). Also, you'd also never see a book publisher be a headline panelist today, but Bennett Cerf became a household name this way.
      • A short skit featuring one of the contestants in a given setting, and the announcer saying "Do you know what this person does for a living?" ... followed by a quick spiel of three or four possible occupations, followed.
      • The contestants greeting the panelists to begin their segment, and each panelist allowed one "wild guess" as to their occupation.
      • Arlene Francis not appearing on the first episode, and Bennett Cerf not joining the panel on a weekly basis until the first year of shows were in the books. (Cerf, by the way, was another non-entertainment personality [his day job being running publishing company Random House], the rare one who gelled with the audience and had such superb gamemanship he'd appear on game shows, including Line until his death in 1971.)
    • The earliest syndicated episodes had a short monologue by host Wally Bruner which opened each episode, explaining in detail the concept of the series. By the late winter of 1969, this was dropped and Bruner – after greeting the audience and the obligatory pre-game chit-chat with the panel – went right to the game.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/EarlyInstallmentWeirdness/GameShows