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Series / Bargain Hunters

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Short-lived 1987 ABC Game Show created by Merrill Heatter and hosted by Peter Tomarken which tried to combine the essence of the increasingly-popular home shopping craze with that of a certain other game show.

Three pairs of contestants competed in three separate minigames, always in this order:

  • Bargain Quiz - The players had to guess whether an item at a certain price was a bargain; the items could be anything, from the original price of a bottle of Coca-Cola to the amount Sophia Loren owed in her tax evasion case. Buzzing in with the right answer won a point, a wrong answer gave a point to their opponent. The first to three points won the game and a bonus prize.
  • Bargain Trap - The players were shown five prizes, each with a price; four were priced below the actual retail price, one was marked up and deemed the "Trap". The two players then alternated picking from the prizes. Picking the Trap was an automatic loss; if the four bargains were picked, the players would write down what they believed the actual price of the Trap was; the closest guess won. The winner kept the prizes they chose (and the Trap, if the game went down to that prize).
  • Bargain Busters - The players tried to correctly guess the bargain price a certain store gave a stated item, locking in one of three possible choices. Right answers won a point; the one in the lead after three prizes won the game and the prizes. If there was a tie, a fourth item was displayed; the players would write down what they believed the price was, and the closest guess won.

The three winners then played Super Savers, where each player chose three bargain-priced prizes from a group of seven. The player who saved the most won the three prizes they chose, plus a grand prize.

In case you haven't noticed yet, that "certain other game show" was most likely The Price Is Right, but that's just the tip of the iceberg every round was followed by a "Bargain Shopper" segment, where the show magically turned into the Home Shopping Network and offered viewers a chance to buy an item from the preceding round at a discount by calling the onscreen phone number.

Aside from the fact that it was three parts game show and two parts infomercial, Bargain Hunters wasn't really that good, with Tomarken apparently going so far as to call it a "piece of shit". While the series debuted on July 6, it was preempted frequently during its first few weeks by special coverage on the Iran-Contra affairs, which meant it never really gained a foothold with viewers. The show ended just nine weeks later on September 4, and was replaced by reruns of Mr. Belvedere.

Peter Tomarken was the host, and Dean Goss was the announcer.

Not to be confused with Bargain Hunt.


This series provides examples of:

  • Bonus Round: The Super Savers round, in a way.
  • Expy:
    • Price has done two games prominently involving bargains: Barker's Bargain Bar (now simply called Bargain Game) and the now-retired $uper $aver. The bonus round of Hunters is very close to the latter, which involved picking four grocery items marked down to various degrees and trying to save a certain amount, except Hunters was competitive and didn't have a target amount.
  • Home Participation Sweepstakes: Actually closer to a Home Participation Offer.
  • Pilot: Taped May 28, 1987, with some different graphics and a slightly different format for Bargain Quiz.
  • Product Placement: Price has Promotional Consideration in its prize descriptions pretty much by design, but they don't turn into QVC and give you a phone number to buy the items featured on the show. They've done Home Participation Sweepstakes on their website with a similar concept, but its still nothing like this.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music cue for the home shopping segments turned up again on The Last Word, a short-lived Heatter word game from 1989.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Entirely possible in "Bargain Trap"; if the contestant going first picked the Trap right off the bat, the opponent automatically won the game without having to pick a single prize. In that case, the winner would be awarded the Trap prize so they would at least walk away from the game with something. This did happen at least once.
    • Also possible in "Bargain Quiz", if a trigger-happy contestant happened to buzz in and miss the first three questions in a row.

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