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Series / Break the Bank (1976)

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This Break the Bank Game Show format is unrelated to the two others of the same name, but it's the one most adults today remember. As on The Hollywood Squares, a man and a woman compete in a game with nine celebrity panelists. Two panelists answered each question, but only one gave the right answer. Matching three identical dollar amounts (always adjacent to one another) won the game and the right to face another challenger. Collecting three of the five Money Bags not only won the game, but also "broke the Bank" and awarded a large cash/prize jackpot.

Tom Kennedy was the host on ABC from April 12-July 23, 1976; Jack Barry took over when the show went into syndication for the 1976-77 season.

Despite its short run on American TV, the format has had two Greek remakes: How About You? (hosted by Kostas Rigopoulous in 1987-88), and Tilemplofes (hosted by Claus Tsivilikas in 1989).

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This show provides examples of:

  • The Announcer: Johnny Jacobs for most of the ABC run, then Ernie Anderson took over for the last week of that run and for syndication.
  • Bonus Round: On the syndicated version. See Luck-Based Mission below.
  • Bonus Space:
    • The Money Bags; collecting three of them broke the Bank; Breaking the Bank was an automatic win.
    • The Wild Card could be used as a Money Bag or any dollar amount.
  • Cool Shades: Barry wore these because the set was so bright. Similarly, Kennedy had his glasses tinted.
  • Game Show Host: Tom Kennedy on ABC, Jack Barry in syndication.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: As was ABC's policy, champs retired after winning $20,000 but were allowed to keep up to $30,000.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Any Barry-Enright bonus round is just that; here, pick panelists to win money so you can reach or exceed $2,000 without finding the BUST card, which makes you lose everything. Stop after any safe pick and keep the money, or reach the $2,000 goal to have your bonus winnings increased to $5,000. This was only used in the syndicated run, however.
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  • Pilot: Not too different from the series, aside from having dome-like backdrops for the celebrity and host/contestant areas; the syndicated pilot had no numbers on the boxes, oddly.
  • Progressive Jackpot: The Bank itself which started at $5,000 and increased by $500 (later $250) per game until won. On the Barry version, the Bank was always $10,000 in prizes (including a car), as syndication practices of the era rendered this trope unsustainable.
  • Speed Round: In the syndicated version, if time ran short in the middle of a game, the contestants alternated choosing squares without questions, and the first contestant to get three of anything won (a format that also determined the winner of the final ABC episode).
  • Stock Money Bag: Five of them are hidden on the board. A player wins by collecting three of them.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: A variant. If the male contestant claimed a square, it got a mustache; if the female one did, it got a set of lips.
  • Whammy: The BUST card, during the syndicated run. To a lesser extent, finding a blank space on the board in the main game (for both runs) would cost that player their turn.

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