Series: The Challengers
Revival of the 1969-74 NBC classic The Who, What, or Where Game hosted by Art James, now a syndicated current-events quiz with three players (one a returning champion) and Dick Clark at the helm. While the basics of the game remained the same through the run, certain aspects of the game were tweaked along the way.Each show was introduced by announcer Don Morrow giving the date (e.g., "Today is Monday, September 3, 1990") and began with a 60-second rapid-fire current events question round called the "Challengers Sprint", with $100 per correct guess and $100 deducted for an incorrect guess. (This was later changed to just one toss-up question to decide who started, but the Sprint eventually returned.) The contestant with the most money after the Sprint got to select from a board of questions. Each round had six categories of three questions about current events and popular culture; each question was worth $150, $200, and $250 (later $100/$150/$200).The contestants secretly chose which question they wanted to answer. If a question was chosen by one player, s/he was read the question with cash added or subtracted depending on if a right answer was given. If two players selected the same question, Clark read it toss-up style, with the first to buzz-in getting to answer. (For some episodes, if the buzzing contestant failed to answer correctly, Clark gave the other contestant a chance to answer if s/he wanted to. For other episodes, he just gave the answer and moved on.).If all three contestants chose the same question the values doubled, with the player answering correctly first getting to answer one or both of the remaining questions for extra cash. Two rounds of six categories were played, with second round values doubled.All players with positive scores after two rounds played the "Final Challenge", based on one category and three as-of-yet unannounced questions, each rated by difficulty (e.g., the easy question paid even odds, while the most difficult had 3:1 odds). The contestants secretly chose which question they chose to answer and how much of their current winnings (up to all they had) to bet. If two or all three contestants chose the same question, the player with the highest wager got to answer. If two players wagered the same amount on the same question (as happened at least twice, on January 14 and August 1), those contestants would be asked to re-wager in that same question and re-declare. All three contestants kept their winnings, optionally on a Citibank Visa card or in cash, with the high scorer returning the next day.Champions who won three games got to play the Ultimate Challenge for $50,000 plus $5,000 per failed attempt (later $25,000 plus $1,000 per show unclaimed). Clark announced one of two categories from which all questions were taken; if the contestant answered all three questions correctly in the chosen category, s/he won the cash jackpot; there was no Game Show Winnings Cap. (Starting on November 21, the Ultimate Challenge was played on every show and worth $10,000; later on, it was dropped altogether.)The Challengers is notable for being one of the very few TV shows to prominently display each episode's airdate during the open and on a screen behind Clark, primarily because episodes were taped close to their airdate to keep with current events. Notably, this featured was dropped during their sweeps-period tournaments, so that they could be rerun during the summer hiatus without being literally dated. (Technically, there was no hiatus, as the show lasted only one season.)
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round: The Ultimate Challenge.
- Double The Dollars: The second round. Plus dollar values were doubled when all three contestants picked the same question to answer in a category (with the player who gets that question correctly earning the right to answer the other two questions).
- Home Participation Sweepstakes: At least two, which hurt them because A) they took up at least two questions worth of playing time, leaving some categories untouched at the end of the round, B) opening questions such as "What is the color of a cue ball?" made the show look even more dumbed-down in the eyes of Jeopardy fans and C) they made reruns very difficult without heavy editing.
- Speed Round: The Challengers Sprint.
- Think Music: While the contestants make their "Final Challenge" wagers.
This show provides examples of:
- April Fools' Day: Following the Sprint on April 1, 1991, the day's categories popped on the board — "Pre-Columbian Architecture", "The Politics Of Burundi", "Quantum Physics", "14th-Century Philosophers", "Anaerobic Zoology" (which Dick didn't even try to read), and "Existential Poets". He had the contestant pick a category (Pre-Columbian Architecture), then asked "Come on, now, what is going on? Let me see what the subjects are-" — and then the video wall displayed "APRIL FOOL!" You can watch the ep here.
- Boston: The November 7, 1990 show had two contestants from Boston, found via a contestant search in that city. In light of this, Don Morrow changed the opening intro to "...Dan and Jay, you are The Boston Challengers!"
- Catch Phrase: "Look to the video wall", "Cue the wall", "Step up to the challenge", "Ladies/Gentlemen, the challenge is yours..."
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Some catagories - such as "Hannibal, Vegetable, and Mineral" - giving you questions on ... Hannibal, Vegetable, and Mineral.
- Expy: Of Jeopardy. Some think it's a dumbed-down copy, while others take it as a more enjoyably-relaxed copy that doesn't take itself too seriously.
- First Run Syndication
- Just for Pun: A trademark of the show. For example, "Animals in Motion" had questions on "Ewe-Turn", Fox Trot, and "Duck!"
- Obvious Beta: This promo contains quick shots of what appears to be an unaired pilot taped on a slightly different set with different graphics.
- Opening Narration: "Today is (Date), This is our champion (Player A's name, amount s/he won so far), This is (Player B, occupation), This is (Player C, occupation). (Player A), you're our champion. (Players B and C), you are...THE CHALLENGERS!"
Dick Clark: Oh, thanks Don! Now my son will want the same thing on his birthday!
- One episode started with "Today is Cindy Clark's birthday: Tuesday, January 8, 1991".
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: One blooper clip shows Dick tripping over "Bill Blass" repeatedly, then remarking "I can't say Bill Blass to save my ass."
- Product Placement: Each contestant got their winnings on Citibank Visa cards, and news items were researched through Newsweek magazine.
- Punny Name: "Fun with Last Names" had questions on Gary Oldman & Henny Youngman, Fred Frendly & George Meany, and Sammy Cahn & Immanuel Kant.
- The same round had "Men in Motion" — questions on Dan Rowan, Christopher Walken, and Ted Danson.
- "On Your 'Marx'" had questions on Karl Marx, Groucho Marx, and Richard Marx.
- "Hoo, Watt, or Wear" had questions about owls, James Watt, and the fashion industry.
- Scenery Porn: The video wall, a nice setup of 16 screens that displayed the questions as well as pictures for visual questions and live video during the end credits, while it would sometimes show the same scene the main camera was catching.
- Those Two Guys: Dick Clark and the Judge.
- Unperson: Contestants who were at $0 or less couldn't play the Final Challenge, and their names were notably removed from their lecterns once the show returned from commercial.
- X Meets Y: Jeopardy (the basic game format) meets Pyramid (Dick Clark and the punny category titles).