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Series / Child's Play

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Game Show that was Bill Cullen's last for CBS, in which a pair of contestants tried to guess words as described by another person. Rather than celebrity guests, however, the contestants had to guess the words based on descriptions given by children (usually 5-9 years old).

In the first round, a clip was shown of a child describing a word (with anything too incriminating bleeped out), and the contestant in control guessed. If they were wrong, their opponent was shown a clip of a different child describing the same word. If they too were wrong, it was passed back with one more clip. In the second round, Fast Play, all the words were played as toss-ups open to both contestants and a miss let the opponent see the rest of the clip before answering. The high scorer at the end of the game won $500 and a chance to win $5,000 more in the Bonus Round.

The show ran during the 1982-83 season, and was replaced by Press Your Luck.

Not to be confused with the charity or the slasher film series, which itself got a TV series adaptation.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bonus Round: Two different versions, each with a 45-second time limit and a $5,000 top prize. The champ won $100 per correct answer if they fell short.
    • The first bonus round was "Triple Play", in which the champ had to identify a word from up to three descriptions written by children. Six correct answers were needed to win.
    • On April 25, 1983, a new bonus round was introduced, known as "Turnabout"; it was essentially Pyramid with kids. Five kids featured in the day's video clips appeared onstage, and the champ had to explain a word to one of them at a time, trying to get the kid to guess it. Seven correct answers were needed to win. In addition, the kids split $100 per correct answer, or $1,000 if the champ won.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In early episodes, the contestant who correctly guessed each word in Round 1 earned control for the next one. This was soon changed to swap control for each new word.
    • For the first three episodes only, Fast Play was split into two halves, with correct answers worth one point in the first half and two in the second. Also, a wrong answer allowed the opponent to see the whole clip, not just the portion that hadn't yet been shown.
  • Golden Snitch: Most of the scoring happens in the Fast Play round (two points per word, as opposed to one in the first), so you wonder why they bother playing the first round at all.
  • Obvious Beta: Among many other things, the May 11, 1982 pilots credit the show as "A Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production". When the series landed, it was credited as "A Mark Goodson Television Production".
  • Standard Snippet: The Theme Tune interpolates "London Bridge Is Falling Down."
  • Show the Folks at Home: In Round 1 and the "Turnabout" bonus round, each word was displayed on the screen as it came into play.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Used in a unique way; whenever a child said the word the contestants were trying to guess, the censors would bleep it out and put an "OOPS!" sign over the child's mouth to prevent any potential lip-reading. Of course, if the kid actually cussed...
  • Speed Round: "Fast Play", the entire second round.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent:
    • A British version hosted by Michael Aspel ran on ITV from 7 January 1984 to 26 August 1988, which had the oddity of staying longer in the public consciousness for just over 70 episodes.
    • The German version, Dingsda, is a bona fide long runner; it had a near-continuous run from 1985 to 2002 and a revival that began in 2018.