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Series: Double Dare (1986)
"On your mark, get set, GOOOOOO!!!"
Marc Summers announcing the first game to start.

Children's quiz/stunt show on Nickelodeon, and is arguably considered the greatest game show for such audience, with seven years (1986-1992) and over 500 episodes under its belt. Teams answered questions to earn money, trying to be the leader after the end of two rounds. The team in control could answer a question asked to them or "Dare" the other team, letting them try to answer for double the money. The other team could then "Double Dare" in return, doubling the value again (i.e., four times the original amount). Once a question had been Dared or Double Dared, an incorrect answer would award the money to the opposing team.

Once the question had been Double Dared back to the first team, they had to either answer or take the Physical Challenge, where they competed in a timed stunt in order to win the money and retain control of the round. These challenges, and the whole show in extension, were famed for being very messy and ridiculous, and of course getting people Covered in Gunge. Contestants also competed in messy stunts at the beginning of each round to see who would get the first question, as well as in the Bonus Round.

There were two short-lived spin-offs: the first Super Sloppy Double Dare, which was just like regular Double Dare except it took place in New York, and Fox's Family Double Dare, which expanded the scope of players to include adults.

In 1988, the show entered syndication, later reviving the Super Sloppy Double Dare name, this new version substantially increased the gak and mess of the show. While the syndicated run ended in 1989, the show returned to Nick with a new Family Double Dare, which was the last incarnation of the show. (By this point, they had moved to the Nickelodeon Studios complex located inside Universal Studios Florida (opened in 1990, and closed in 2006 after years of inactivity); prior to that it had taped at the studios of the PBS affiliate WHYY-12 in Philadelphia (Finders Keepers also taped there), and at Unitel Studios while in New York.)

In 2000, a revival called Double Dare 2000 lasted for one season.

A UK version of the show was made, the only major difference being the teams played for points rather than money (in the UK, there's a law that says kids can't win cash on a game show). It became famous for host Peter Simon slipping on the gunge and falling over, which happened almost Once an Episode.

Not to be confused with CBS' Double Dare, which is something quite different.

Game Show Tropes in use:


This version provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Played with in one of the physical challenges. A contestant would have a slime-filled balloon put on his/her hat, and then sit down receiving a pat on the head from a giant hand. This would break the balloon leaving him/her Covered in Gunge.
  • Bar Slide: The basis for one of the physical challenges, albeit with a "root beer-like substance" and later a green slime-type liquid.
  • Berserk Button: Not on the series (it was a stage show at the Philadelphia Beer Festival), but if this video is any indication, Marc does not like people shouting out the answers. He's also not above dispensing a Precision F-Strike, either. One could suspect he was waiting over 25 years to say it...
    • Which was met with laughter and cheering. Probably because it took everyone by surprise, you know, coming from Marc Summers.
  • Butt Monkey: Both Marc and Harvey were used for humiliating and embarrassing stunts by the producer. There were also single-episode examples like the one with the wheelchair athlete who got slimed twice after the physical challenge was already finished.
  • The Cameo: Make The Grade host Robb Edward Morris once appeared randomly sitting in the audience before a commercial and received a Pie in the Face. And given his hosting ability...
  • Camera Abuse: On a show as active as this one, it is not surprising that the camera is occasionally hit or splattered during physical challenges and the obstacle course. One notable example happened in 2000 when a large dollop of slime landed on the main camera on the first obstacle. It remained there for the rest of the run, slowly dropping down to the bottom while the family ran the course.
  • Celebrity Edition:
  • Christmas Episode: Featured decorations on the set and a Christmas themed obstacle course; in addition, the parents of the kids on each team performed all the physical challenges and the Obstacle Course. Given that this was produced prior to the first incarnation of Family Double Dare, it may have been an experiment for this very purpose.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Not until the first Family version, but for the majority of the show's run it was always the red team (or family) vs. the blue team.
  • Conspicuous Trench Coat: Before the spy spoof physical challenge Contraband, Robin would come out with one on. One of the contestants would put it on and break balloons on his partner's head.
  • Crossover: with Legends of the Hidden Temple, Nick Arcade, and What Would You Do? called the Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge that aired during The Big Help in 1994.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marc Summers, on a question:
    Marc: In Encino Man, what actor plays the caveman?...Need an answer!
    Contestant: Pauly Shore?
    Marc: No, it's not Pauly Shore. This person has talent!
  • Downer Ending: It wasn't uncommon for the team to pace through the Obstacle Course looking like they could win, only to run out of time on the last one, but on one occasion the contestant's gunge-covered hand slipped off of the last flag at the last second. The real kick in the nuts? That slip cost the family a Ford Mustang.
  • Epic Fail: On the first taped episode (not the first one aired), the first item in the Obstacle Course (find a flag hidden inside a pillow) was missing said flag. On the second take, the flag was still missing due to miscommunication. The flag was present on the third take, but in addition to the clock freezing at 60 seconds, a cameraman fell, getting right in the contestants' way immediately afterward. A fourth take was necessitated which went into the episode as aired.
    • The first three takes (with slate, showing the recording date as September 18, 1986) were put into the direct-to-video release Double Dare: The Inside Slop.
    • And the name of that very first obstacle, which gave the show so much trouble? Nightmare.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: There were several physical challenges where a person getting messy had to dress like a gorilla (a few episodes even featured Robin dressed in the costume). Marc would often give the other player in such challenges a Fay Wray wig, meaning if you were told to wear that you were safe from the mess; however, he once pulled a Bait and Switch by telling a girl to put the wig on and then having her also put on the gorilla outfit and receive the messy end of the challenge.
  • Follow the Leader: There were several "messy kids' show" clones, most egregiously the short-lived Slime Time. However, most of the other kids' games of the era had completely different stunts and/or presentation.
  • Freudian Slip: Jim J. Bullock's infamous "a fag's gonna spew."
  • Game-Breaking Bug: While all the searching obstacles were hard, Pick It could be this if the flag was put up too high for a contestant to get while on his/her back.
  • Giant Food: Several physical challenges involved making a giant food item with one of the contestants as the centerpiece. This took a few forms:
    • The contestant could be in a container and have the dish made around him/her with the contestant acting as a sort of bonus ingredient, for example the Sushi rolls.
      • A common variation of the above was the rolling challenges. One contestant would lie down and his/her partners would pour gak on him/her. S/he would then be rolled to the other end of the stage and have more gak poured on him/her. The best known of these is probably the Human Burrito.
    • The contestant replaced the main food item and have the condiments put on him/her, like in the Take Me Out To The Ballgame Hotdog.
    • The contestant would be holding a large food item. S/he would then try to catch ingredients in it. 2000's Thanksgiving Turkey was a good example of this.
    • The contest would be part of the base item or container, and run to different stations to add ingredients. An example of this is the Banana Split Boat.
    • Finally, there were the physical challenges where a contestant sat in a container with the main ingredient already there, and s/he would have to catch the finishing touches. An example is the Spaghetti Bowl.
  • Grossout Show
  • Halloween Episode: Early on, with a brutal obstacle course (see YMMV entries).
  • Hold the Line: There was one challenge that did this. Basically, there were vats of slime with spouts shaped like giant noses. When the challenge started, those spouts would start draining the slime out of the vats, and the contestants had to stuff rags up the noses so that the slime wouldn't drain below the line (yeah, rather than fill a container past the line, the liquid's level started above the line, and the contestants had to keep it there). Depending on how generous the producers were feeling that day, either two or all three containers had to survive for 30 seconds.
  • Lampshade Wearing: The basis for one of the physical challenges - one partner would have to find poker chips in a bowl of dip and throw them to his partner, who was required to catch them with the lampshade serving as a blindfold.
  • Level Ate: Aside from using large quantities of post-dated food in the physical challenges and obstacles, many such obstacles consisted of the contestant having to crawl through and/or find the flag in a giant sandwich, slice of pizza, stack of waffles, plate of mashed potatoes, etc. Later in the run, some of the physical challenges required a team to create a giant replica of some food, such as a burrito or bowl of cereal, with one of the contestants naturally replacing one of the items.
  • Loophole Abuse: Some of the physical challenges had rules that allowed for less obvious but much easier game play. One of the easiest involved filling a cup on a contestant's head using a water fountain. There was no minimum distance, so the contestant could simply put their head under the fountain instead of having to arc the stream.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Depending on how many obstacles required the contestant to find the flag (whether in simulated food, a giant nose, or a big foam rubber shark's mouth), the Obstacle Course could easily become one of these.
  • Mascot: During the early years, the obstacle course would regularly feature a Toys 'R' Us gift certificate as a prize for one of the early obstacles. The obstacle with the gift certificate as its prize would generally have a stuffed Geoffrey Giraffe, the mascot of Toys 'R' Us, sitting on the sign giving the obstacle's name.
  • Obstacle Exposition: Before the Obstacle Course began, Marc would give a brief-but-thorough explanation of how to get through each segment of the course. Occasionally, he would have an audience member demonstrate one for a Double Dare t-shirt.
  • One We Prepared Earlier: Before Double Dare 2000 debuted, a special preview episode aired on SNICK. It featured the casts of One Hundred Deeds For Eddie Mc Dowd and The Amanda Show.
  • Pie in the Face: While not as iconic as the gak or memorable as pies in the pants, physical challenges that required a contestant to get their face covered in whipped cream have been a part of the show's physical challenges since day one. However, the one that takes the cake (no pun intended) was the "Flying Trapeze" from the final season of Family Double Dare, where a person was put on a platform being moved back and forth by his family and had to throw four pies at his teammate's face while she sat in front of him.
    • This was not limited to the contestants. Sometimes, during the show's Ad Bumpers, when the camera zoomed in on the audience the operator would zero in on a particular person and smash a pie in the fan's face. Marc was also the occasional target of pie pranks by Harvey, Robin, or other members of the crew.
    • A subversion happened on the President's Day special when a contestant was told to make a pie by putting cherries on a plate, put a few handfuls of cream on it, and put it into his partner's face. Instead, with the clock nearing zero, he put the cherries in the big bowl of cream and smashed the whole thing in her face! (The judges declared this a rule violation, and the money went to the other team.)
    • In the 1987 Super Sloppy Double Dare episode "The Difference vs. Punky Preppies," Harvey announced that part of the grand-prize package for the Obstacle Course was the right to smash a pie into Marc's face. Marc made it into a bet saying that if the team lost, Harvey would receive the pie in the face, to which Harvey reluctantly agreed. The team won literally at the last second, and Marc got the pie in the face.
  • The Pratfall: As pointed out by the Nostalgia Critic, the floor was very slippery and would cause the contestants and the host to fall on their butts on multiple occasions!
  • Product Placement: All contestants got to take home the pair of Reebok sneakers they wore for the show (though they often needed to be cleaned before they could be worn again). Every crew member (including Marc) wore the company's shoes as well. As stated above, the Toys 'R' Us mascot was also frequently seen.
  • Projectile Toast: One of the physical challenges involved launching toast out of a spring-loaded toaster to one's partner on the other side of the stage.
  • Rearrange the Song: The music cues (including the main theme) originally had a synth lead. Beginning with the Fox Primetime version of Family Double Dare in 1988, they were given a jazzy makeover, along with the addition of guitar, horn, and saxophone leads. The updated music cues would be carried over to subsequent episodes/editions of the 80's era (until 1992), though some of the original synth cues would be snuck in as well.
  • Reunion Show: Marc Summers and John Harvey reunited on an episode of NBC Philadelphia's The 10 Show in late 2010, and participated in a Double Dare-esque challenge. The interview portion is here, and the challenge portion here.
  • Running Gag: During the second half of Super Sloppy Double Dare, Marc would always announce the show was originating from a different Florida city like Quincy or Niceville, only for Harvey to correct him that they were in Orlando.
    • On one episode, all of the obstacles for that day's Obstacle Course were renamed to variations of "Harvey."
    • On Family Double Dare, there was one toss-up challenge (when played, it usually started the second round) that Marc would always introduce while doing an impression of Desi Arnaz, complete with Desi's laugh. Its name? "Honey, I'm Home! Haa Haa Haa Haa!"
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The Triple Dare Challenge in round 2 of 2000. An add-on to the regular Physical Challenges, it carried a prize and $300 in score money if attempted and completed, but if failed, the money and the prize went to the other team. If declined, the team would play the Physical Challenge normally for the usual $200 either way. No Show The Folks At Home or Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened here, though: the additional challenge was only revealed if accepted.
  • Serious Business: Contestants (and the host) seemed to treat the events as such.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Various episodes were themed around The Hollywood Squares (1988) and I Love Lucy (1989).
      • A season after the I Love Lucy episode, the show introduced a new toss-up challenge called "Honey I'm Home Ah Ah Ah". In it a female contestent would dress like Ricky and try to catch objects in a briefcase. She would then go threw a door where her husband was waiting dressed like Lucy (in the process she would be Covered in Gunge from a Bucket Booby-Trap). Marc loved it because it gave him a chance to do his Desi Arnaz impression, and would frequently try to get the women dressed as Ricky to join in.
      • There was also a physical challenge based on Hollywood Squares that involved throwing sponges at a tic-tac-toe board. However, it was infamously hard and was never completed.
    • Once during his pre-Obstacle Course rundown, Marc ran into Baravelli (Chico Marx's character from Horse Feathers). He demanded a password before letting him through the drawbridge.
    • During one episode of Family Double Dare, Marc had a box on stage containing a head similar to the Pedro puppet used by Señor Wences.
    • Marc is a big fan of comedians and shows from the 1950s-60s, and would do an impression of one if something reminded him of them. For example, during Stupid Hat Day, he was given a sombrero after a question and did a quick impression of the Mel Blanc character Sy from The Jack Benny Program.
    • One episode was a tribute to fellow game show host Wink Martindale, who was the MC of shows like Tic-Tac-Dough and Debt.
    • While explaining a physical challenge involving paper airplanes, Marc made a reference to Bud Collyer.
    • 1988: A young girl in the audience said her favorite show was...Finders Keepers.
    • 1990: A question asking who hosted the Wheel of Fortune pilot.
    • In a later episode, one of the questions asked was "What is the only game show on PBS?", which was Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?. When neither team could think of the answer, Marc gave it out and took time to acknowledge the fact that host Greg Lee was a former staffer on Double Dare.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's a more competitive Beat the Clock with a quiz added.
  • The Teaser / Cold Open: Each episode began with a physical challenge to determine initial control of the board. This was the only game show to open in such a manner.
  • Timed Mission: The physical challenges were usually played in 20 or 30 seconds (always 30 on 2000, barring a time reduction due to a "Triple Dare Challenge"), although in earlier episodes 10 and 15-second challenges were not unheard of. The Obstacle Course had a time limit of 60 seconds.
  • Title Scream: Subverted; each FOX Family Double Dare episode began with the audience yelling "Take the Physical Challenge!"
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Several, as listed below. Some of these versions were also shown in a 1989 "International Day" edition of Super Sloppy Double Dare.
    • From Brazil: Passa ou Repassa (lit. Dare or Double Dare) (1987-2000; 2013). Aired on SBT. Hosted by Brazilian TV legend Silvio Santos (1987-1988); Gugo Liberato (1988–1994); Angélica (1995–1996); and Celso Portiolli (1996–2000; 2013-Present).
    • From Great Britain: Aired from 1987-1992 on the BBC as a segment on Going Live. Peter Simon was the host.
    • From Australia: Aired on the Ten Network for 3 years from 1989-1992. Each season had a different host (Gerry Sont, Tom Jennings, and Simon Watt respectively). This version was the most identical to the American original, in terms of set design and music. There was also a primetime Family version, but this one was even less successful, running only 3 episodes in 1989, with Larry Emdur as host.
    • From Netherlands: DD Show (1989-1990). Hosted by Norbert Netten and aired on TROS.
    • From Canada French: Double Défi (1989-1991). Hosted by Gilles Payer and aired on TVA.
    • From Germany: Drops! (1991-1994). Hosted by Jürgen Blaschke and aired on Sat.1.
    • From India: Nick Dum Duma Dum (2004). Hosted by Vrajesh Hirjee and aired on Nickelodeon India.
  • Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: In the original run, this was most often done on the third question of the game to induce a physical challenge. It didn't always work, though.
    • In 2000, this was more or less done intentionally in the second round due to the main mechanic of the second round's physical challenge, the "Triple Dare Challenge".
  • Very Special Episode: There have been a few episodes with differently able individuals competing. For example, an episode of Family Double Dare featured wheelchair athletes competing. There was also a 2000 episode which featured Special Olympians.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Marc and Harvey were not shy about expressing their disdain for what they felt were some of the weaker ideas for themed episodes. For example, when the production staff bought a pink blazer while buying clothes for physical challenges, they "justified" the purchase by building a Super Sloppy episode around Miami Vice and giving Marc the pink blazer to wear. Marc makes no effort to hide how silly he finds the idea each time he explains it, and Harvey closes the episode by inviting the viewer to see "whatever other dumb idea the producers come up with for a theme show."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Marc Summers did a show that got very messy despite suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though he didn't know he had it during the show's run.
  • Womb Level: Several of the obstacles: "Pick-It" (a giant nose); "Down the Hatch" and later "Big Gulp" (huge mouths, the latter being a Sundae Slide retool); "In One Ear" (a big head filled with "earwax"). "Foot Locker"/"Toe Jam", a huge foot, may also qualify somewhat.
  • Worth It: This tended to be the reaction of kids on Family Double Dare when they got to slime their parents, even if they didn't get any money for it.
  • You Look Familiar: One of the first episodes of the Nickelodeon Family Double Dare had a team called the Holders; an episode later that season had a team called the No Clue Crew made up of the same family. They even had the mother and daughter do the same physical challenge.

BrainSurgeCreator/NickelodeonFigure It Out
Double Dare (1976) Game ShowDownfall
El gran juego de la ocaMinigame GameCook, Serve, Delicious!
Double Dare (1976) American SeriesDragnet

alternative title(s): Double Dare 1986
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