main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Series: Blackout
"Blackout it's not your average game show!"
Tagline spoken in several promos for the series.

Describe Blackout here.

CBS Game Show hosted by Bob Goen and produced by Jay Wolpert, whose other major contribution to the game show world was Whew! Thankfully, the game this time around isn't as unnecessarily complicated.

Nice job blacking out, there.

In each round, two celebrity/civilian teams had to successfully fill in the four blanks of a sentence with clue words. One team had its celebrity record 20 seconds of themselves describing one of the words in the puzzle, while the other player wore headphones so they couldn't hear it. (They would switch seats the following round.) However, once the description was played back to the contestant, the other team could hold down a plunger in front of them known as the "Blackout Button." The Button allowed its user to mute out up to seven seconds of the description, hopefully removing enough key information to prevent the contestant from guessing correctly, since doing so would earn their team $100 and a chance to solve the puzzle. (An extra second of Blackout time would be accorded for each duplicated key word). Teams alternated giving, censoring, and solving until a team solved two puzzles, which gave them the chance to play for $10,000 in the bonus round.

In the event of a tie, there would be a sudden death round where the leading player would have the option of describing the single word (for ten seconds) or censoring three seconds of the description. Again, every duplicated key word would allow the opponent to mute out an extra second of the playback. Since neither teammate could hear the description, the wrong word would automatically lose.

Blackout is a cult classic whose brevity can be chalked up to bad timing and stiff competition it replaced The $25,000 Pyramid on January 4, 1988 and faced not only the still-popular Sale Of The Century on NBC but also a massive outcry from viewers toward the network for killing off the Dick Clark-hosted game. The resulting low ratings caused Blackout to be canned on April 1. The show was then replaced with a final 13 weeks of Pyramid, which would be canned (for good this time) on July 1 in favor of Ray Combs' Family Feud.

Should not be confused with the book Blackout, or the Video Game Blackout.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The Clue Screen. While one member of the winning team viewed the incoming clues on the screen (up to six), the other would have their back to this screen and would have to await a cue ("Solve it!") before turning around to see all of the accumulated clues at once. The cycle would repeat until they either ran out of time (70 seconds) or gave five correct answers, which would win $10,000.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Johnny Gilbert for most of the run, Jay Stewart for the last two weeks (likely so Gilbert could come back in for the final run of Pyramid that replaced it). Stewart had left Sale a few months earlier, and this appears to have been his last professional work before committing suicide in 1989.
    • Game Show Host: Bob Goen.
    • Studio Audience
  • Losing Horns: A virtual staple of Wolpert's games. Here, bizarre "electronic" ones were used for bonus losses.
  • Show The Folks At Home: Only used for the sudden-death word.
  • Soundproof Booth: The contestants wore headphones when needed, but rather than going into a booth the seat and table half the contestant sat at literally slid backwards instead.
  • Think Music: Again in the vein of several other Wolpert shows, a piece involving Truck Driver's Gear Change and alternating notes that played on each second was used during the Bonus Round. Another brief piece is used during the 5 seconds given to think about the puzzle before attempting to solve it.

This show provides examples of:

  • Animated Credits Opening: Wolpert seemed to like animated intros; this one was a demonstration of the game mechanic at a restaurant table with a fast-talking lady (actually a sped-up recording of Wolpert's wife).
  • Porn Stache: Goen. He got rid of it for some Sears commercials in 1989, and has kept it off ever since.

The Big ShowdownGame ShowBlank Check
Bizarro UniverseSelf-Demonstrating ArticleBlackout Basement
The Black DonnellysShort RunnersBlank Check

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy