Series: Beat the Clock
Perhaps the granddaddy of stunt-based Game Shows, this Mark Goodson-Bill Todman creation has been around in some form since 1950. The premise is simple: Here's a clock. Here's a silly stunt. Can you perform the stunt before time expires? Complete the objective, win some good stuff.The original version, which aired on CBS (1950-58) and later ABC (1958-61), starred Bud Collyer as host. Brought back for a five-a-week syndicated revival in 1969, the show was hosted by Jack Narz, who left in 1972 due to travel expenses eating up most of his salary. Gene Wood, then the show's announcer, was quickly promoted to host until 1974, making for one of his few non-announcing gigs. In 1979, Monty Hall of Lets Make A Deal fame hosted a five-month revival, again for CBS; this was one of the few times he hosted a show he didn't create, and the only time he ever worked for Goodson-Todman.PAX brought back the show yet again in 2002 with Gary Kroeger as host, and tacked on a Bonus Round copied from The Diamond Head Game. In 2006, the show served as the third episode of CBS' Game$how Marathon with Ricki Lake, with the focus being on the 1950-61 versions.The format was exported to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, forming part of the popular variety series Saturday Night at the London Palladium. It was the first of many games hosted by Bruce Forsyth.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round:
- The Jackpot Clock and Super Bonus Stunt during the original era are the Ur-Example. Solo Stunt and Playoff Stunt during the Narz/Wood era, the Bonus Shuffle in the Hall era, and the Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes on Kroger's version.
- During the Narz/Wood era, completing a stunt relatively quickly allowed the team/player to earn some bonus money (usually $5, $10, or $20) every time they could complete the task again within the remaining time.
- The Money Board, also during the Narz/Wood era, used the show's title to hide cash prizes of $25, $50, $100 and $200. After completing a stunt, the team/player chose a letter and won the amount behind it. The day's money distribution was shown after all stunts had been completed.
- Celebrity Edition: Celebs appeared occasionally during the original 1950-61 era, while the Narz/Wood era incorporated the celebrity guest into its regular format. The Hall version switched to all-celebs on November 5, 1979 and never looked back.
- Game Show Appearance: In a "lost episode" of The Honeymooners in 1953, Ralph and Norton appeared on a Collyer episode to do a stunt involving cups, saucers, and "a lemon machine".
- Golden Snitch:
- In the Monty Hall version, the teams played the Bonus Shuffle (shuffleboard) to determine who went to the bonus round. The team with more money got three pucks, while their opponents got two. The team whose puck touched the highest money amount without falling off the board won that amount, became the champions, and played a final stunt for 10 times that amount.
- In the PAX version, there were two:
- The first was an elimination stunt after each team played a timed stunt. The team that had the highest score got an advantage, the team with the lowest score, a disadvantage. Last team to finish was out of the game.
- The second followed on to the first. The two teams got to see the final stunt, then played Bid-a-Time to determine who would play the stunt (first bid was determined by a trivia question, and couldn't exceed two minutes); low bid played. If they finished the stunt within the time, they won; if not, their opponents did.
- Home Game: The original series had a few, as did the Narz/Wood era. Collyer would often start a new couple off by handing them a copy of the game, assuring them that they will have as much fun with it as their kids will.
- Collyer once appeared as the special guest on Ive Got A Secret and ended the spot by giving a copy of the Clock game to Secret host Garry Moore, who then gave Bud a copy of the Secret game in kind. All things considered, Moore got the better end of the exchange.
- The Announcer: Bern Bennett (1950-58), Dirk Fredericks (1958-61), Gene Wood (1969-72), Nick Holenreich (1972-74), and Jack Narz (1979-80). Kroeger's version didn't have an announcer.
- Game Show Host: Bud Collyer (1950-61), Jack Narz (1969-72), Gene Wood (1972-74), Monty Hall (1979-80), and Gary Kroeger (2002-03). Yes, you read that right — both Narz and Wood were host and announcer at one point.
- Several people filled in for Bud Collyer over the years, including John Reed King (1952) and Win Elliot (1955).
- Lovely Assistant: Roxanne was the most famous hostess during the original era.
- Studio Audience: A few members would usually play a game during each show of the Narz/Wood era.
- Product Placement: During Sylvania's sponsorship their appliances were given as prizes, and Roxanne would take a picture of the husband of the team (usually after a stunt involving whipped cream or other messy substances) with the camera that would be given to the couple. Collyer would always point out that she was using a "Sylvania Blue Dot for sure shot" flash cube.
- Progressive Jackpot: The reward for completing a (Super) Bonus Stunt in the Collyer era.
- Originally, it started at $100 and grew by $100 per week until won. In 1954, this was changed to start at $500.
- In 1956, the Super Bonus Stunt started at $10,000 and went up $1,000 per try until won. It reached $64,000 before being hit, and was won on the last show before a sponsor change. (It was announced at the top of said episode that if the Super Bonus wasn't won that night, the money would be donated to recognized charities.)
- For the ABC era, or at least in 1960, the Bonus Stunt grew by $100 per day until won. It was finally hit in September 1960 for $20,100.
This show provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening:
- Used for most of Sylvania's sponsorship (1950-56), beginning on December 20, 1952: a mouse would dance on the titles to an arrangement of "Hickory, Dickory, Dock". Originally followed by the logo-Clock's hand wiping around to show Sylvania's various products, starting around 1954 the animated portion was lengthened to have the logo-Clock part like a curtain, after which the mouse put together the names of Sylvania products much like the Jackpot Clock the wives played.
- A different animation, this time of an alarm clock that would literally be beaten by a hammer-wielding man, was used for the 1979-80 series.
- Ascended Extra: During the final Narz season, Gene Wood was the guest celebrity for a week with the announcing duties handled by Nick Holenreich. In September 1972, Wood took the hosting reins and Holenreich became permanent announcer.
- Catch Phrase: "Maybe next time will be your time to beat the Clock!" "The BONUS!!!!"
- Companion Cube: The titular Clock, given how often the host had to refer to it. Gene Wood's "Talk to me, Clock" is especially notable, as is the 1979-80 opening and the Hall-era incident listed at Funny Moments.
- Creative Closing Credits: Starting off the credits for the Wood era would be the words "BOSS LIST", followed by the word 'Boss' inserted into each title - i.e. Music Composition Boss, Writing Boss, Technical Boss, Stunt Creation Boss, Boss Lady, etc. Frank Wayne (the show's executive producer) was the Super Boss, with Gene Wood having the title of Boss Boss.
- Demoted to Extra: Jack Narz.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: See Funny Moments.
- Long Runners: The original version ran for 11 years.
- Moving the Goalposts: In the Bud Collyer version, after describing a seemingly simple stunt then seeing what the time limit was, Collyer would often add an additional complication before letting them start, such as disallowing use of hands, or removing the netting from the net they would be using. When he did that, though, he stopped at that one iteration.
- In at least one stunt, the contestants were told they would have to step over seemingly unpassable knee-high obstacles to get to the goal items. Once they had their blindfolds on, Collyer removed the obstacles; in order to see, the contestants try to navigate around things that were no longer there.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Highlighting the stunts in the Narz/Wood versions.
- Opening Narration:
Bern Bennett: And now here's America's number-one clock watcher, Bud Collyer!
Gene Wood: Yes, it's Beat the Clock! Come on and join the action in the race against time! With guest star [name]!
Nick Holenreich: Time now for the all-new Beat the Clock! Fun action stunts and a race against time! With guest star [name]!
Jack Narz: Throw it, tow it, swing it, fling it. That's the way, every day, you can play Beat the Clock!
- Real Song Theme Tune: The Sylvania years had Hickory Dickory Dock, while the Fresh Deodorant era had A Bicycle Built For Two. Both used new lyrics.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Twelve years after its cancellation, the game show channel Buzzr used the Kroeger version's theme song on one of its ad bumpers.
- Spiritual Successor: Minute to Win It crosses the idea of completing challenges with the idea of earning progressively more money for each completed task.
- Stage Money: The bonus round of the PAX version had the contestants in a chamber collecting flying cash (and prizes).
- Thematic Theme Tune: The original had a vocal theme, which even went so far as to mention the sponsors by name.
- Timed Mission: Kinda the whole point of the thing, isn't it?
- And then PAX completely missed the point of it by running two stunts with no Clock: the opening stunt is a straight race to see who can finish first for 10 points, and an elimination stunt, also with no Clock. (The eliminator comes after each team has a timed stunt of 30 or 40 seconds, depending on whether they can answer a two-part question.) The team with the most points after the timed stunts is put at an advantage, the team with the fewest at a disadvantage. The first two to finish move on to the final stunt.
- Hall's version also had stunts where the teams directly competed against each other, but they did use the Clock, so that if neither team finished the team that had made the most progress would win.
- The Narz/Wood era didn't use the Clock for the audience games and other little diversions, but that was more of an attempt to bring variety to the show.