"If you can find the light bulb hidden in this picture, then you could win a run through our prize-filled house, where what you find is what you keep on Finders Keepers!"
Harvey at the start of each show.
Following the wild success of their first Game Show, Double Dare, Nickelodeon rolled out this show that fulfilled every kid's fantasy of tearing up his bedroom...and the kitchen...and the bathroom...and the sewer.Finders Keepers was split into two rounds. In the first half of each round, players had to identify hidden pictures to earn money and the right to search one of eight rooms in the life-sized house built onstage. In the second half of the round, teams had 30 seconds to ransack the room in play to find a hidden object that matched a clue read by the host. Finding the object awarded additional money, but failing to do so (or picking a wrong object) gave the cash to the other team. Some of the rooms were normal, such as the living room and bathroom; others were "fantasy" rooms like the Toy Shop, Dracula's Den, and the Fairy Tale Room. The team in the lead after Round 2 won and went on a Room-to-Room Romp through the house in hope of winning more prizes.The United Kingdom had its own version of the show a few years later, with several changes to the format.Not to be confused with the Urban Fantasywebcomic of the same name.
Bonus Space: One of the four rooms in Round 2 was dubbed the Instant Prize Room; finding the hidden object here resulted in that team winning a prize that was often bigger than the grand prize in the Romp.
Consolation Prize: When the Finders KeepersHome Game hit the market in 1988, losing teams would be given a copy as a consolation prize, as well as other assorted toys, games, or confectionery.
Covered in Gunge: Surprisingly averted, for the most part. The Pastry Shop was really the only room where the contestants risked getting messy, although there were several rooms where they could get sprayed with or fall into water, and every once in a while the object or clue was buried in a pit or bucket of slime. However, on one occasion the producers ambushed Toffler with a bucket of the green stuff from above while in the house.
Golden Snitch: The entire scoring system. Each time a team failed to find the object in the room search round, the dollar value for that attempt was awarded to the opposing team; as such, teams that were perfect at the Hidden Pictures round but always failed when searching rooms would hand their opponents the win without their doing a damn thing.
Home Game: A board game was produced, complete with a Hidden Pictures book and eight cardboard boxes as the "rooms".
The Announcer: (John) Harvey, Bob Lorman, Joe Conklin, and Harry Stephens.
Game Show Host: Wesley Eure, then Larry Toffler. Neil Buchanan (and Diane Youdale for a little while) in the UK.
Lovely Assistant: The "Finders Keepers Keeper" - Mindy on Eure's version, Kelly on Toffler's. In both cases she was an African-American woman who helped out in the house and modeled some of the prizes.
Product Placement: Mr. Gameshownote who was not only a prize for the Romp, and the Instant Prize at least once, but also the hidden object at least once, and some of the items in the store-based rooms, especially the Toy Shop.
Promotional Consideration: Every player got to keep the pair of Converse sneakers he/she wore on the show, just as Double Dare contestants kept their Reeboks. Also, every crew member (including the host) wore a pair of the company's shoes. Converse, meanwhile, would get a plug in the announcer's closing spiel at the end of the episode.
Rules Spiel: With minor variations, the rules spiels went more or less as follows.
Eure era: "In our hidden pictures round, being first to correctly circle what's hidden will get you $25 and earn you the right to search a room, where if you can find the hidden object, we'll give you $50, but remember, if you don't find the object, the fifty bucks goes to the other team, and it's the team with the most money at the end of the game that goes on that wild Room-to-Room Romp where you can win some great prizes. When we reveal the hidden picture, the teams will have ten seconds. When they think they know what we're looking for, they'll buzz in and circle as fast as they can." The latter two sentences were dropped for the 1988 series.
Toffler era: "Here's how Finders Keepers works. In our hidden picture round, the first team to match the clue with what's hidden wins you $25. They also win the right to search a room; if they find the object in the room, they get $50. If they don't, the money goes to the other team. The team with the most money at the end of the game wins, and they get to go on a wild Room-to-Room Romp through our house for some terrific prizes."
Show The Folks At Home: During the room searches in the Eure version, the camera would occasionally zoom towards the object's hiding place, and Eure himself sometimes pointed out objects Hidden in Plain Sight, or made some sort of comment (such as "You saw that at home, didn't you?") if the contestants emptied out the hiding place but did not actually notice the object. On the Toffler version, an indicator popped up on screen to show approximately where the object was hidden. The UK version combined both approaches; initially, an indicator would appear on the screen to show where the object was hidden, but if time was running low, host Neil Buchanan would try to clue the players in to the object's location (sometimes all but telling them exactly where to look).
Aerith and Bob: Eure invoked this trope in a 1987 episode featuring contestants named Amin, Leila, Ingrid, and... Mike. He joked that Mike would have to change his name, as it wasn't funny enough.
Ancient Tomb: One of the rooms that debuted in the second Eure season was an Egyptian-style tomb.
Anti-Climax: Some of the Romps never really got going, with the contestants finding only two or even just one clue card; this could be particularly painful to watch if the rest of the episode had either been a Curb-Stomp Battle or gone right to the wire. On at least two occasions in the Toffler era, the winning team found the first clue card in less than 10 seconds, but then spent over 80 seconds in a fruitless search for the second card due to a misunderstanding of the clue.
Blatant Lies: The prizes aren't actually in the house, despite the intro mentioning "our prize-filled house".
Bucket Booby-Trap: Subverted, as the contents would usually come out of cabinets, boxes on top of shelves, the ceiling, etc.
Catch Phrase: "FIND IT!" (or, occasionally in the early episodes, "Trash it!").
Depraved Dentist: In the second Eure season, Frankenstein's Lab was occasionally furnished as Frankenstein's Dental Office, with a torture chair instead of the usual slab and a sign on the wall reading "V. Frankenstein, D.D.S."
Don't Try This at Home: Mindful of the fact that young viewers might be tempted to hide objects and invite friends or siblings to turn their house upside-down to look for them, the producers had the hosts, particularly Eure, point out that the contestants wore protective gear during the Romp, and that the plates, vases, etc. were made of easily breakable clay rather than something more durable (and hence more dangerous when broken) like glass or ceramic.
"So that's why you can't do this at home - only on Finders Keepers."
The hidden pictures round in the Eure era had a few differences in the first episodes to be filmed. The pictures themselves appeared without the wind chime sound effect used later, while missed objects were circled with a yellow telestrator pen rather than indicated by darkening the picture except for a light circle around the object. The contestant interviews also happened at the beginning of the first round rather than after the second picture clue.
The very earliest taped episodes featured no pink paint around the hall window on the top floor, as well as unusual room configurations - one episode featured what might be the only appearance of the Kids' Room prior to the second Eure season, while another episode or two had a principal's office as a room, never to be seen again afterwards. Some of the sound effects differed as well; for example, the "winning" bell was used to signal the Instant Prize Room. And while the instant prizes for most of the 1987 season were trips to either Walt Disney World or Space Camp, some of the very earliest episodes featured portable televisions or phone/answering machines as the instant prize.
Hidden Object Game: Half the game was finding hidden pictures, the other half was finding hidden objects.
Impossibly Tacky Clothes: One of the configurations of the Living Room in the 1987 Eure season was birthday party-themed, and one episode with this setup supposedly took place on Wesley's birthday; his gift from the crew was an incredibly loud and tacky sport jacket, which he wore with great reluctance. Harvey gave his closing spiel wearing the coat, saying that Wesley might not like it, but he did.
Large Ham: Harry Stephens, the final announcer, really leaned into each word during his opening spiel. "Iiiif YOU can find the LOBSTER hidden in this picture!!..." ...And then fell flat halfway through the most important parts of the spiel — "FINDERrrrrrrrs keepers" and "LARRyyyyyyyy toffler".
Linked List Clue Methodology: In the Room-to-Room Romp, the first clue gave the location to a clue card hidden somewhere in the room; on the card was the room the team was to go to next as well as the clue for that room. Finding a clue card in each of six rooms (all eight in the UK) won the grand prize.
The Romp during the Eure era (the Closet in particular derailed many Romps due to the sheer number of hiding places). Inverted many times in the Toffler era, as most of the clue cards could be seen before the kids even entered the room.
In one 1987 episode, the second hidden picture showed three birds in a nest, and all but one of the hidden items were concealed in the shapes of the branches and leaves. Eure described the picture as "one of the hardest ones I've ever seen on Finders Keepers."note The contestants did eventually catch on to the picture's gimmick and found three out of five objects.
Nobody Poops: None of the bathrooms in the American version had toilets. That didn't keep them from being referenced, though. Averted in the UK version, in which the bathroom did feature a toilet.
No OSHA Compliance: Completely averted. The winning team always wore helmets and elbow/knee pads during the Romp, and Eure often commented about the emphasis on safety and the use of materials that would not hurt anyone. He even took a plate from the Kitchen and smashed it over his own head without injury to make the point. Not that the contestants necessarily took note of this; for example, in a 1987 episode, one contestant struggled to get the hidden object, a bottle of cough syrup, out of a vase in the Dining Room, and brought the whole vase to Eure... who promptly smashed it with his fist and held up the cough syrup for confirmation from the judges.
Opening Narration: Whoever the announcer, his opening spiel would always be "If you can find the [object] hidden in this picture, then you could win a run through our prize-filled house, where what you find is what you keep, on... Finders Keepers!"
Product Displacement: In a 1988 Eure episode, the Romp clue in the Pastry Shop was "This box contains a baker's dozen." A box that was clearly from Dunkin Donuts was concealed on one of the shelves, but the word "Dunkin" had been pasted over to just leave "Donuts" on the box.
Ransacked Room / Trash the Set: The premise of the show: find the hidden object by turning the room upside-down, and don't be afraid to make a mess while doing so.note Of course, while some teams lost the main game by being too tentative in their searches, others were too eager and either lost the main game by accidentally throwing hidden objects in with the rest of the mess or stalled in the Romp by immediately trashing the room rather than listening to the clue and taking a few seconds to think about what it described, often something already in plain view.
The Scrooge: One episode from the first Eure season had Wesley and Harvey imply that producer Michael Klinghoffer was a bit of a penny-pincher, using the "birthday party" configuration of the Living Room to get a free birthday party for his wife Judy.note Eure and Harvey also had turns as the "birthday boy" for this version of the Living Room.
The hidden pictures round, as the gateway to the room trashing for which audiences really tuned in, was gradually made easier over the series' run. In the first Eure season, there were four clues in the first hidden picture round and four or five in the second, so it was quite common for one, two, or even three of the eight roomsnote sometimes including the Instant Prize room to go unsearched, requiring Eure to pad the episode's run time by bantering with the contestants. In the second season, the pictures had six clues each, so it was far less common (but not unheard of) for rooms to go unsearched. And in the Toffler era, the pictures were the size of a wall rather than displayed on a monitor and the hidden items were pre-identified via a set of Colorforms, and rooms almost never went unsearched.
In the Eure era, the romp record was 66 seconds, and contenstants sometimes had to find hidden objects in one or more rooms to find the next clue card. In the Toffler era, the clues were much more straightforward, with the cards often visible as soon as the contestants entered the room, and at least three teams finished the romp in under a minute (the record was 40 seconds).note Although the Toffler era also saw at least four teams find just one clue card in the romp.
The hidden pictures occasionally had oblique pop culture reference titles; for example, a picture of a canine detective from the 1987 Eure series was entitled "Not The Real Inspector Hound", a reference to the Tom Stoppard play, while a 1988 picture featuring one boxer punching another so hard he has flipped upside-down was referred to as "A One-Way Ticket to Palookaville", a reference to the famous "I Coulda Been a Contender" scene in On the Waterfront.
In the second Eure season, the shop window in the General Store read "Klinghoffer's General Store", a reference to series producer Michael Klinghoffer.
Songs in the Key of Panic: "Hurry" variant in the Romp, to an extent; the music started out with a somewhat "relaxed" rhythm, but picked up time to that of the normal "room search" cues with around 35 seconds to go. Also counts as a "Nearing the End" variant in both the normal searches and the Romp, with a key-change up every few seconds.
Time Keeps On Ticking: During the Romp, once the clock started, it ran continuously, even while teams were moving on to the next room. This put a premium on getting to the next room quickly. A wrong turn, especially when moving to the upper floor or lower floor could end up torpedoing the team. More blatant in the UK version, where the host would often hold up the team until they shouted out the answer to the clue. In the US, the host would read the clue and let the team get on with it (occasionally asking the team what they were looking for as they were going about it). Good thing, too, since 90 seconds is quite brutal enough without the team having to shout out the answer.
Timed Mission: The individual room searches (30 seconds), and the Romp especially (6 rooms in 90 seconds in the US; all 8 rooms in 3 or 4 minutes in the UK).