Infamous Game Show
that helped fuel the scandal of the 1950s. Host Jack Barry
asked knowledge questions of two contestants, each of whom was in a Sound Proof Booth
and not aware of the other's progress. Question values were worth from 1-11 points, appropriately increasing in difficulty. The object was to be the first player to score 21, but both players had the option to stop the game after correctly answering any question. Oh, and by modern standards, the questions were brutally difficult
The scandal arose after a match between Charles Van Doren and Herb Stempel. Both men had been given the answers in advance (to make the game more dramatic, Dan Enright later said
) and Stempel had been coached to lose. The whole incident was dramatized in the 1994 movie Quiz Show
A Twenty One revival
was attempted in 1982 with Bullseye US
host Jim Lange, but the pilot didn't sell. In 2000, NBC retooled
the game for prime time, with Maury Povich as host. It ran for only a few months, but paid out big — Rahim Oberholtzer won $1.1 Million and David Legler topped that by winning $1.75 Million, both American game-show records. Legler's record would stand until Kevin Olmstead won the graduated grand prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
(who would then be passed by Ken Jennings
Not to be confused with the film of the same name
- Bonus Round:
- 1982 pilot: Random numbers from 1-11 flashed; the player chose whether to keep the number or give it to the "computer". The "computer" has to stop at 17 & up, beating it won $2,000 & a prize package.
- 2000 ("Perfect 21"): Six true/false questions of increasing difficulty under a specific category. Each question was worth from $10,000-$60,000, a total of $210,000. Bailing is an option; a wrong answer loses the money. Never fully won, closest was 5/6 for $150,000.
- Lifelines: The "Second Chance" rule in the 2000 revival that allowed a friend or relative to be brought onstage and give an answer. One of the few instances where using the Lifeline incurred an additional penalty, getting the question wrong then gave you two Strikes instead of just one.
- Game Show Host: Jack Barry originally hosted the 1950s version, followed by Monty Hall for the last six months. Jim Lange hosted a 1982 pilot, and Maury Povich helmed the 2000 version.
- Studio Audience
- Sound Proof Booth: Pretty much defined this Trope.
- Confetti Drop: Confetti and balloons were released whenever a contestant surpassed the $1,000,000 mark.
- Who Wants To Be Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The 2000 remake was basically NBC's answer to Millionaire.
This show provides examples of:
- Career-Derailing Hosting Job: Averted for Monty Hall, who survived this — his first American hosting job — never being accused of knowing of any rigging going on.
- Genre-Killer: The quiz show scandals (which Twenty-One came to symbolize) discredited game shows for some time. It wasn't until The Seventies that American viewers would trust such shows again on a large-scale basis (and 1999 for big money quizzes to come back in vouge).
- Pilot: At least two.
- Stage Money: The 2000 version showed the contestants the money they won, which they took off the stage in a tote bag.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: Many.
- Granada Television produced a version for ITV from 3 July to 23 December 1958 with Chris Howland hosting, but pulled due to the quiz show scandals (with contestant Stanley Armstrong claiming he had been given "definite leads" to the answers).
- Hätten Sie's gewusst? ran in Germany on public broadcaster ARD from 1958–69, hosted by Hans "Heinz" Maegerlein. At eleven years, it's the longest-running version of the show.
- Australia's Nine Network aired Big Nine in 1968, hosted by Athol Guy. No, seriously, that's his name.