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Series: Tic-Tac-Dough
"From Hollywood, it's everybody's game of strategy, knowledge and fun! It's Tic-Tac-Dough!"

NBC knowledge-based Game Show from Jack Barry and Dan Enright which was based on the children's game of tic-tac-toe. Two contestants placed their X's and O's on a game board with nine categories, which were shuffled by a mechanical device after every turn.

The original series debuted on July 30, 1956 with Barry as quizmaster, although sources differ regarding Gene Rayburn: some state that he only hosted on Fridays until February 1957 (at which point he left), while others claim he replaced Barry sometime after April 3, 1958.

Regardless, a nighttime version began in September 1957 with Jay Jackson as emcee, however this run was rigged about three-quarters of the time. October 1958 saw both versions change hosts, likely due to the erupting scandals — Jackson was replaced by Win Elliott on October 2, with the daytime emcee being replaced by Bill Wendell four days later. The nighttime show was canned on December 29 of that year, followed by the daytime series on October 23, 1959.

A daytime revival with Wink Martindale aired briefly on CBS from July 3-September 1, 1978. This time, the game board comprised nine TV screens connected to an Altair 8080, with nine Apple ][ computers as display slaves. The show also had a Bonus Round with a Dragon. Tic-Tac moved to syndication, still with Martindale as host, two weeks after the CBS run ended.

In 1985, Martindale left the series to produce and host the syndicated Headline Chasers, a format he also created. For Tic-Tac's final season of this run (1985-86), the woodgrain set was redecorated in pastels, more red boxes were added to the game, and Jim Caldwell became emcee.

September 10, 1990, saw the debut of another syndicated revival, this time hosted by Patrick Wayne (John Wayne's son). This iteration, featuring several changes that were roundly disliked, was canned on December 7 after just 13 weeks (although repeats aired through March 8, 1991).

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: Present in all versions from 1978 onward, the idea being to complete a goal without finding the Dragon to win a prize package and some cash.
    • CBS: The board contains an amount of X's and O's, with three of one symbol arranged to form a three-in-a-row. $150 was awarded for each symbol found, with the three-in-a-row winning the cash (which after a few weeks was bumped up to $1,000) and prizes.
    • 1978-86 Syndicated: Values ranging from $50 (later $100)-$500 are on the board, along with a "TIC" and "TAC". Accumulating $1,000 or more won the cash and prizes, as did finding TIC and TAC.
    • Wayne: Based on the CBS version, but now the player had to pick between X and O. $500 was awarded for the first time that symbol was found, with the pot doubling for each subsequent "chosen symbol" found. Finding the tic-tac-toe awarded the cash and prizes as per usual, but new to this version was the Dragonslayer, which was an instant win and immediately doubled the pot (maximum of $8,000); if the Dragonslayer was found before the player found one of their "chosen symbol", it was worth $1,000.
  • Bonus Space: Sort of. The center square always required a two-part question to capture.
    • Any category in a red box had its own rules. Some of the most important were Bonus Category (three-parter, worth an extra turn), Secret Category (doubled the value of the pot, often leading to five-figure pots), Grand Question (replaced Secret Category, added $1,000 to the pot), and Double or Nothing (if answered correctly, player could try for a second box but had to risk losing the first one).
  • Extra Turn / Golden Snitch: Bonus Category. If answered correctly, the categories would be shuffled before the player's extra turn, allowing him/her to choose the category again if it turned up. Kit Salisbury was one of those who took advantage of this. Since the champion played first, s/he could win the game by repeatedly choosing Bonus Category, without the challenger ever having a turn; if this happened, the challenger would be invited back to appear on a future show.
  • Home Game: Several.
    • Transogram released two editions and two "junior" versions during the 1950s run. Ideal Toys made a single version in 1978, which followed the CBS format.
    • A video game adaptation was planned for the Atari 2600, but The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 prevented its release.
    • Kevin DeVizia once wrote a shareware game for Mac OS 9, called TicTacTrivia!. It hasn't been available since AOL Hometown closed.
    • Another game called "Tic Tac Trivia" is one of the selectable games on the MegaTouch bartop game, only with a three-game series played and multiple-choice questions asked.
    • Sky Zone Mobile made a version for cell phones with the 1978-86 theme, the Martindale logo, and a digital version of Wink himself. The set looks mostly like Martindale's, with a Caldwell-ish contestant/board backdrop.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Bill Wendell, followed by Bill McCord when Wendell became host. The 1978-86 era had Jay Stewart, Bob Hilton, and Charlie O'Donnell. Larry Van Nuys announced the 1990s version.
    • Game Show Host: Jack Barry, Gene Rayburn, Bill Wendell, Jay Jackson, Win Elliott, Wink Martindale, Jim Caldwell, Patrick Wayne. Johnny Olson was an occasional substitute host during the original era.
    • Studio Audience: A few people would come down to play "Dragon Finder" around 1983.
  • Think Music: Used on the center square.
  • Whammy: The Dragon.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bland-Name Product: The second-edition Transogram Home Game was re-released in 1960 as 3-In-a-Row Home Quiz, with no references to the show whatsoever.
  • Catch Phrase: Patrick Wayne's "YOU WINNNNNNNNNN!"
    • Also from Wayne's version: "Tic Tac is back!"
    • "You find the Tic and the Tac, and you get the Dough."
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Once while interviewing an elderly plant expert, Wink asked her, if he were a flower, how she would know he was a good specimen. She replied that she would need to examine his stem.
  • The Hilarity of Hats: It became a bit of a Running Gag that Wink would don different goofy-looking hats for the sign-off at the end of the show. Also, every Friday was known as "Hat Day".
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Seriously, what do dragons have to do with tic-tac-toe?
  • Luck-Based Mission: Barry-Enright loved to do this in the bonus round.
    • In the CBS version, this was "Find three-in-a-row to win while avoiding the Dragon".
    • In the 1978-86 syndicated run, it changed to picking squares to reach or exceed $1,000 or finding the words "Tic" and "Tac", but avoiding the Dragon.
    • The 1990 one was similar to the CBS version, but the contestant picked X or O as their "designated symbol". One string of three-in-a-row symbols was placed on the board, and it wasn't always possible with the chosen symbol to win the prize package. If the Dragonslayer was found, the contestant won the prizes and double the pot.
  • Mighty Roar: The 1978-86 Dragon.
  • No Indoor Voice: "YOU WIIIIIIIIIIN!!!"
  • Pungeon Master: Wink loved his puns, and memorably subjected contestant Dan Klock to a Hurricane of Puns (saying his job was very "timely", joking that Dan might get "ticked off" by all the puns, so Wink should "watch" what he would say, etc.) The hurricane ended with "It's time to play Tick-Tock-Dough."
  • Totally Radical: About six weeks into the 1990 run, the Bonus Round began having the Dragon and Dragonslayer rap their purpose instead of Wayne describing them himself. A couple of egregious examples:
    Dragon: "Tic or Tac... Tac or Dough... pick the dragon square and you'll be po'."
    Dragonslayer: "Think hard, think smart, think wise! Pick the dragonslayer and win your prize!"
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Several, although none in the same decades as the Martindale/Caldwell era (i.e., the show's peak).
    • The United Kingdom got Criss-Cross-Quiz, which ran from 1957 to 1967 on ITV. Jeremy Hawk helmed until 1962, when he was replaced by Barbara Kelly.
      • A children's version without cash, called Junior Criss Cross Quiz, aired alongside the parent show from 13 November 1957 to 29 June 1967. Hawk was the original host, followed by a string of what appear to be guest presenters (including Bob Holness) until Kelly took over.
    • Germany got Tick-Tack-Quiz on ARD, hosted by Fritz Benscher and running weekly from 1958 to 1967. It returned on RTL Plus in 1992 as Tic-Tac-Toe, now a Reg Grundy-produced daily version with host Michael "Goofy" Förster which was based on the 1990 format.
    • Australia had a Reg Grundy adaptation, simply called Tic-Tac-Dough, on the Nine Network from 1960 to 1964 with Chuck Faulkner hosting.
    • Russia had what appears to be the most recent adaptation — Проще простого ("Simpler Than Simple"), which aired on NTV during the mid-1990s with host Nikolay Fomenko.

Winky DinkCreator/Jack Barry21
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The TickAmerican SeriesTil Death
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alternative title(s): Tic Tac Dough
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