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Series / Caesar's Challenge

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Caesar's Challenge is a short-lived NBC Game Show, most notable for being the last new daytime game on the network and the final new network daytime game ever until CBS revived Let's Make a Deal in 2009. The show was filmed on location at the Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas, resulting in the show having an obvious Ancient Grome casino overtone, complete with a gladiator as co-host.

Despite the casino setting, it was actually a word game: three contestants competed to unscramble words from letters showing on the nine reels on a giant slot machine. Although it had a similar-looking board, the game was dissimilar to the famous British game show Countdown - players answered trivia questions from a category related to the word to earn the right to reveal the correct position of one of the letters. Cash was awarded for each correct answer, plus a chance to solve the puzzle.

It's also the only game by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, better known for The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, and Wiseguy (though for most of the run his company was credited as The Cannell Studios, with a different logo).

This show provides examples of:

  • The Announcer: Steve Day.
  • Bonus Round: Two formats were used, each with a car at stake.
    • The first had letters drawn like lottery balls until nine letters that could form a word had been drawn, then Caesar said "STOP". The winner unscrambled one letter for each game won to that point, then had 10 seconds to solve the word.
    • About halfway through the run, this changed to solving five words (each with one letter more than the last, starting at 5), slowly unscrambling themselves, in 30 seconds.
  • Bonus Space: The "Lucky Slot" - pick the letter that appeared in the lit position and solve the puzzle immediately, win a Progressive Jackpot bonus that started each day at $500 and grew by $500 per word. Could turn into a Golden Snitch if it built up during most of the game before someone claimed it.
  • Carried by the Host: Ahmad's hosting style was... relaxed... to say the least. He made mistakes and laughed in odd places a lot, yet still seemed in control and professional.
  • Catchphrase: "Caesar says, STOP!", followed by Ahmad's "Caesar says 'Stop', so we do..."
  • Confetti Drop: If the car was won, balloons are dropped.
  • Game Show Host: Ahmad Rashād.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Theoretically eight days under the first bonus format, explicitly three under the second bonus format. In both formats, players retired immediately upon winning the car.
  • Pilot: Taped in October 1992, with a betting format for the maingame, the Lucky Slot's Instant Jackpot rolling over from day to day, and a Lincoln Mark VIII being the car on offer. Amusingly, the last word in the audience game was PILOT.
  • Scenery Porn: The Greek-influenced set can probably count as such, as well as the letter cage from the bonus round (which was kept onstage even after the change in format).
  • Short-Runners: Lasted just seven months, only slightly longer than the shows that had preceded it (Scrabble and Scattergories). It also managed to outlast the Classic Concentration repeats by two weeks.
  • Show the Folks at Home: After the bonus round was changed, Ahmad would keep the topic of the scrambled word from the contestants, in which case he'd say "Now, here's the topic for the home audience only."
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: During the second bonus round; as the time limit approached, the music sped up and went through several key changes up, culminating in a horn fanfare in the last few seconds.
  • Studio Audience: Got to play an Audience Game at the end of the show. Spectators could unscramble words to earn a handful of chocolate coins and casino tokens.
  • Think Music: As the contestants studied the scrambled word. Another piece of music played during the second bonus game, which began slowly and rapidly sped up in tempo as time ran out.
  • Those Two Guys: Ahmad and the various Centurions (most recognizably Dan Doherty) would spend a few minutes with jokes and props before starting the game.