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Series / Dotto

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1958 CBS Game Show hosted by Jack Narz which was basically a quiz version of Connect the Dots: two players, one usually a returning champion, answered questions to fill in lines on a group of 50 dots, which when completely filled was a famous face. Each question connected 5, 8, or 10 dots depending on the difficulty, although a wrong answer connected the dots on the opponent's portrait (the players couldn't see each other's picture, although they had the same famous face to guess). Clues were given after connecting 25, 35, and 45 dots.

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If a player believed s/he knew the answer, they buzzed in (a buzzer for the challenger, a bell for the champ) and wrote their answer. A wrong answer immediately ended the game, but a right one allowed the opponent to give their guess verbally after ten seconds; a wrong answer here knocked out that player, but a right one resulted in a tie game, which meant another face was used and more money was at stake.

Winning the game awarded $10 for each unconnected dot ($20 and $40 for tie games) and the right to face a new challenger.

Debuting on January 6, 1958, Dotto faced Truth or Consequences on NBC and local programming on ABC and became extremely popular within the first half of the year, skyrocketing Narz to a level of popularity comparable to Hal March on The $64,000 Question. On July 1, a nighttime version debuted on NBC, which was pretty much the same except weekly with more money ($100 for each unconnected dot, raised to $200 and $300 for tie games).

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Unfortunately for the show, both networks, and executive producer Frank Cooper, things came tumbling down soon after that. Back in May 1958, standby contestant Ed Hilgemeier found a notebook backstage that fellow contestant Marie Winn had been looking at before she went onto the set; the book contained the questions she was being given during her appearances, plus the answers.

Thomas Fisher (CBS' executive vice president) tested Winn's notebook against kinescopes of her appearances and concluded that it looked fixed. Fisher and his boss, CBS president Louis Cowan, soon discovered that the show's producers had paid Winn, Hilgemeier, and Yaffe Kimball-Slatin (one of Winn's opponents) to keep quiet about the notebook and rigging.

In August 1958, the networks and Colgate learned from Frank Cooper that Dotto was indeed rigged, and only a select few among his staff knew it. NBC ended the nighttime show on the 12th, with CBS canning the daytime series on the 15th. It was only then that the media began taking Herb Stempel's allegations about Twenty-One seriously (they initially branded him a sore loser), and things snowballed from there over the next two years in the Quiz Show Scandals.

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Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Home Participation Sweepstakes: Once an Episode, usually after the first game, a postcard was drawn and that viewer called to guess a person being drawn. A correct answer awarded some nice prizes, while a wrong one resulted in a consolation gift (a supply of Colgate-Palmolive products on the daytime show, a trip on the nighttime version). At the end of the show, more dots were connected and a clue was shown for the next home viewer game.
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