Reg Grundy tries to introduce America to famous British television personality Bruce Forsyth (who, up until now, had earned his fame in the British game show business by hosting The Generation Game, along with British versions of Beat the Clock and Card Sharks) with this short-lived ABC Game Show.
It's basically Pyramid... WITH TEAMS! Two teams of five (one all men, the other all women) competed in a word association game; the team captain chose one of two subjects, then had to communicate it to another contestant in 40 seconds or less (with the traditional rules of not saying the word or its forms, nor pantomiming it). But then, the contestant who received the clues from the first player now had to communicate the same word to the next player in line (the rest of the team's contestants wore headphones) without duplicating any of the previous clues. Each successful pass down the line was worth $100 in the first two rounds, and $200 in the final round. The winning team advanced to the bonus round, where the captain guessed clue words that their teammates would give for a subject.
Hot Streak premiered on January 6, 1986, and was immediately doused in its time slot by both The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune, leading to its cancellation on April 4. However, like several other major U.S. game show flops of the era, it found new life abroad, especially in Germany (where its version Ruck Zuck ran from 1988 to 2000, with a short revival in 2004, and another in The New '10s as part of a slew of game show revivals produced by the RTL Plus channel). It remains a cult classic, primarily because it was one of Forsyth's few U.S. television appearances. Meanwhile, Brucie just kept to doing what he did best, which later involved The Price is Right and Strictly Come Dancing.
This series provides examples of
- The Announcer: Gene Wood initially, Marc Summers during the last few weeks (yes, that Marc Summers).
- Blinking Lights of Victory: Upon a Hot Streak, there is a few seconds of celebration from the team members, while the set lights flash in unison (they only stop flashing when the score for that Hot Streak is posted on that team's side of the board).
- Bonus Round: It's like Talk About in reverse - the winning team captain gets a subject while the rest of the team is in isolation, and must predict 4 clue words the contestants might say to describe it. This process is repeated three times: the first is worth $200 per match, the second is worth $300. On the third, getting all four words multiplied the winnings from the first two by 5 (for a maximum of $10,000), but failing to do so just awarded the money as is.
- Catchphrase: "Nice to see you, to see you..." "NICE!" (this was a general Bruce Forsyth catchphrase that he used on many of his other shows).
- Crowd Chant: The audience would give Bruce one ("BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE!") every episode opening, which he enthusiastically encouraged.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The "Hot Streak," where one side manages to pass the given word/phrase down the line from the captain to the last player within the 40 seconds allotted, with no violations (pantomime, repeated words, or saying the word or parts of it).
- Game Show Host: Bruce Forsyth, well-known in his native United Kingdom but virtually unknown in the States at this point.
- Game Show Winnings Cap: Five days.
- Luck-Based Mission: The mechanic of not duplicating clues.
- Pilot: Gene Rayburn hosted the original pilot in 1983, titled Party Line. The game was relatively similar, except the bonus round was different (the team took turns trying to communicate a word to 9 new players without duplicating clues) and the scoring used points instead of dollars.
- Soundproof Booth: Headphones are used.
- Short-Runner: ABC slotted Hot Streak against two long-running games at the peak of their popularity (The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune), and the show was out the door after the standard 13 weeks.
- Timed Mission: Only 40 seconds were allotted for whichever team played a word, so fast thinking and memory were required, and you also had to come up with words that were not what your teammates had used (using previously used words was a violation, as were pantomiming or saying the word or any part of it), so you had to have a good vocabulary for whatever word or phrase your team played.