Jay Wolpert's second Game Show, this time for NBC. It was also the debut hosting job for Peter Tomarken, who had previously helmed two unsold Wolpert pilots: Rodeo Drive (a 1980 game which was picked up by Lifetime in 1990, but with Louise Du Art hosting) and Duel in the Daytime (a 1981 Minigame Game that was even more of a Refuge in Audacity than Whew!, if there's ever such a thing). Whew! announcer Rod Roddy announced for this series, and he and Tomarken were later reunited for Press Your Luck. The show was co-produced by Metromedia, a media company which had formed from the ashes of DuMont and whose O&O stations would later form the nucleus of Fox.
At least Hit Man is a bit less complicated than Whew!, though: in each round, contestants watched a short documentary-style film narrated by Tomarken, and answered questions about it. Three contestants did so in the first round, and the first two to give five correct answers advanced to the next round (and won $300 and $200 respectively).
The two contestants were joined by the returning champion for the second round, in which the challengers had to defend their Hit Men (4 for the first-place finisher in round 1, 3 for the runner-up, and 7 for the champion) from certain doom by answering questions individually against the champion (the first-place finisher could choose to let the champion answer first, or answer themselves). The champion won by eliminating all of the challengers' Hit Men, while a challenger won by being the active player when the champion ran out of Hit Men.
Okay, on second thought, maybe Round 2 is a tad confusing on paper. The winner of the game proceeded to play the Triple Crown bonus round for $10,000.
Unfortunately, Hit Man was ultimately assassinated by The Price Is Right, making it a victim of Wolpert's own success.note It ran from January 3 to April 1, 1983, before being replaced by the Bob Eubanks revival of Dream House.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round: The Triple Crown. Eight random columns were shown (to the viewers only, however) with one to five spaces each (one column with one space, one column with five spaces, and two each of the others). The contestant called out a column, then answered questions relating to the two videos shown earlier (the returning champ watches the Round 1 film offstage in order to facilitate this). A correct answer added a "Money Man" to that column, while an incorrect answer closed off that column. Filling three columns with Money Men in 60 seconds awarded $10,000 (and it was called the Triple Crown because completed columns were marked with, well, a crown).
- Consolation Prize: Each column filled in the Triple Crown was worth $1,000.
- Show the Folks at Home: The contestant didn't know how many spaces were in each column in the Triple Crown round.
This series provides examples of:
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: Red for the champion, and Blue, Yellow, and Green for the three challengers.
- Grand Finale: Among other things, soon-to-be game show announcer Randy West appeared as a contestant (and won $1,300), and Roddy famously amended his contestant plug..."If you would like to be a contestant on Hit Man, forget it! And now back to Peter Tomarken!"
- Opening Narration: "One half-hour from now, you'll know enough about (SUBJECT 1), and (SUBJECT 2) to win $10,000 in cash, if you were a contestant on Hit Man!"
- Rearrange the Song: The main theme was a reworking of Pablo Cruises' Worlds Away, which was used on the Pilot.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: A UK version (produced by TVS, the people behind the British version of Catchphrase) ran on ITV briefly in 1989- it actually ran for only four months, just like the original, but only aired on Tuesdays as opposed to a five-a-week daytime slot.