Series / Monopoly

Merv Griffin produced this Game Show adaptation of the classic real estate trading game for ABC as a companion for Super Jeopardy! in Summer 1990. Three contestants competed for cash as host Michael "Mike" Reilly asked crossword-style clues, each of which had an answer that started a with specific letter.

In Round 1, play began on Mediterranean Avenue and went clockwise around the board with a light that indicated the current property. The first player to buzz in with the correct answer won the value of the property in cash and gained control of it, but an incorrect answer deducted the value from the player’s score. Each entirely missed question halved the property value until someone gave a correct answer. The round ended when all of the properties on the board were awarded, but all properties of a color group had to belong to a single player; if they didn't, questions were played among the relevant players until a monopoly was formed.

During the commercial break, the players used the money accumulated during Round 1 to purchase houses ($50 each) and hotels ($250 each) to place on their properties, which as in the board game had to be built evenly. This determined the rent value of each question asked while on that property.

In Round 2, the Lovely Assistant rolled a pair of dice, and the indicator light (starting on GO) traveled that many spaces clockwise. What happened next depended on the space where the light stopped.
  • Property: Whoever controlled the property was given the question first; if that player missed, no penalty was assessed for that player but the clue was given to the two other players, who lost the amount if incorrect. A correct answer won the rent value of that property — full hotel rent from the board game, one-fifth of the hotel rent per house, or the mortgage value if there were no buildings.
  • Railroads: A question was asked, and the contestant who got it correct was allowed to go to any monopoly and try to get it for himself.
  • Electric Company/Water Works: The contestants played for 100 times the roll of the dice, up to $1,200.
  • Just Visiting/In Jail: Nothing happened, as per the board game.
  • Go to Jail: All contestants lost $250.
  • Income Tax: All contestants lost 10% of their score.
  • Luxury Tax: All contestants lost $75.
  • Chance/Community Chest: The top card was drawn and the instructions followed. Some cards differed from the board game, such as assessing street repairs to a specific property and the player who owned that property getting penalized.
  • Free Parking: A toss-up question was asked; the contestant who got it right collected a jackpot that started at $500 and increased by the amount of all fines/taxes/card penalties.
  • GO: Passing it awarded each contestant $200, after which the space the light landed on was played as normal.

After time was called, contestants were repaid for their houses and hotels at their original value. The player with the most money advanced to the Bonus Round. Here, the player tried to win $25,000 by completing one full trip around the board in five dice rolls without hitting a Go to Jail space.

The show began development in 1987, and in July 1988 an exclusive five-year deal was struck with ABC for a daytime series debuting in (at the earliest) Fall 1989 note  with a syndicated version (airing in either early fringe or the prime-access hour) attempted for Fall 1990 note . But for one reason or another (TV Guide blamed Patty Maloney; see below), everything managed to fall apart — instead, all viewers got was a dismal 12-episode run from June 16-September 1, 1990.

Game show fans dislike Monopoly for its imbalance in both timing (far more time was spent awarding properties than rolling dice) and gameplay (a contestant who got no monopolies in Round 1 had little to no chance of winning).

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The contestant had to go once around the board within five rolls of the dice (rolling doubles gave an extra roll) while avoiding the Go To Jail spaces — four placed by the player, one in its usual corner spot. $100 was awarded for each space passed, which the player could stop and take at any time; passing GO awarded $25,000, but landing exactly on it (which never happened) was worth $50,000.
  • Bonus Space:
    • GO, like the board game, awarded $200 to each contestant upon passing it. Landing on it gave each player $400.
    • The four railroads let a contestant travel to any monopoly and try to win it from the player currently holding it.
    • Free Parking offered a Progressive Jackpot (which began at $500) if landed on. A toss-up question was asked to decide who won it.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: One-and-done.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Don Morrow for the 1987 pilot, Charlie O'Donnell for the series.
    • Game Show Host: Mike Reilly, previously a waiter and former Jeopardy! contestant. Monopoly was his only emcee role.
    • Lovely Assistant:
      • The 1987 pilot used two unnamed people: a female to move the pieces, and a nerdy male as Rich Uncle Pennybags.
      • The second pilot was Patty Maloney's only game show role: dressed as Pennybags, walking around the board according to each dice roll. According to a 1990 TV Guide blurb, this was the "no sale" factor for most stations.
      • The series used three different women: Kathy Davis, Kathy Karges, and Michelle Nicholas.
    • Studio Audience
  • Whammy: Three spaces immediately took money from all three players — Go To Jail (or simply going to Jail) cost $250, Luxury Tax cost $75, and Income Tax cost 10% of each player's score.

This show provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Mike Reilly was a Jeopardy! contestant, but also played on the 1989 Monopoly pilot.
  • Board Game: Duh. One of the primary concerns for King World and Merv Griffin was trying to condense a game that normally takes over two hours into about 23 minutes.
  • Crossword Puzzle: The clues were in this style.
  • House Rules: Quite a bit, but this was the only official version of the game that used the "$400 for landing on GO" and "Free Parking jackpot" rules.
  • One-Book Author: For Reilly.
  • Pilot: At least two.
    • September 28, 1987: Hosted by Marc Summers, with a boatload of differences compared to the program that eventually aired.
    • November 1989: Helmed by Peter Tomarken for syndication, with few differences to the series. The most notable differences were the addition of another go at buying houses and hotels during Round 2, and that there were more opportunities to make a "hostile takeover".
  • Scenery Porn: The set, with its huge logo in the back and great replica of the board.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y ... Roll the dice, it's paradise / But if you fail, you go to jail!" Complete with a deep bass harmony and "O"s sung by a woman who sounds like she's having a big O.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Despite the show's long development and eventual demise, it returned in 1992 for two seasons on S4C with virtually unchanged rules and a top prize of £5,000. Interestingly, while Series 1 used the typical UK board layout, Series 2 used world cities in a precursor to the board game's "Here & Now World Edition".