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Series / Bumper Stumpers

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Game Show created by Wink Martindale with Barry & Enright Productions, the USA Network and Canada's Global Television Network which ran from June 29, 1987 to December 28, 1990, and has recently resurfaced on the Canadian channel GameTV. Two pairs of contestants competed to solve puzzles based on Vanity License Plates note  that might have belonged to celebrities or fictional characters.

Each game began with host Al DuBois reading a clue pertaining to a "Super Stumper" plate, then revealing the first of its seven characters. After this, a "jump-in" question was done in which the teams were shown two license plates and had to determine which (the left or the right) fit a clue Al read. If correct, that team had ten seconds to decipher the plate (if not correct, the other team that did not buzz in was given a chance to answer) - if successful, they chose a character to be revealed on the Super Stumper and had five seconds to solve it; if not, the other team had ten seconds to figure out the plate.

Gameplay continued in this manner until either the Super Stumper was solved or it was fully revealed and nobody could guess it. The winning team received $500 (later $1,000) and played the bonus game.

The format changed quite a bit over its lifetime:

  • Originally, the team that correctly identified the plate through the jump-in could challenge their opponents to solve the plate, an option that was very rarely used.
  • Originally, if neither team could guess the fully revealed Super Stumper, another full game was played with a new Super Stumper. Later in the run, this was replaced with a Speed Round with a new Super Stumper, and the teams alternated revealing spaces until it was solved.
  • Around mid-July 1987, the format changed to best-of-three, with the winners getting $1,000.
  • Later in the run, a green light between the top two monitors was lit during jump-in rounds to indicate when teams could buzz in.

This show provides examples of:
  • Bonus Round: Three of them, in fact.
    • Originally, the winning team had 30 seconds to solve seven license plates; solving all seven won $2,000, but the number they solved was important: if 1-6 were guessed, the Final Stumper was played: the seven monitors spelled out S-T-U-M-P-E-R, and hidden behind them were amounts ranging from $100 to $500, plus a Stop sign for every unsolved plate. The team banked whatever money they accumulated from picking letters, with $500 or more doubling the money.
      • Later, a "WIN" square was added and the goal was increased to $1,000 (which if accumulated became $2,000). Also, finding the Stop sign now forfeited the accumulated money, so teams were now able to stop at any point.
    • By 1988, the bonus game was changed to have the team solve up to five plates in 30 seconds. Solving at least four awarded $200 and could opt to double it by solving up to three more plates ($400-$800-$1,600). Solving 0-3 plates in the first part, or failing to solve a plate in the second part, awarded no money.
    • By the end of 1989, the bonus game was changed again: now, one member of the winning team was isolated offstage while the other played the previous five-in-30 game. Each plate awarded $100 and was a clue to a puzzle; after time expired, the first player could keep the money or have their offstage partner brought out to try and solve the puzzle. A correct answer tripled the earned money, for a maximum of $1,500.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Originally ten games, later five when the best-of-three format was introduced.
  • Timed Mission: The bonus rounds.
  • Vanity License Plate: The entire premise.
  • Whammy: The Stop sign in the first bonus game.