Two teams (one all-male, the other all-female), each consisting of three civilian contestants and a celebrity captain, competed. One by one, the celebrity captain predicted how each of his/her teammates answered a personal question. Predicting correctly won $50, but predicting incorrectly gave $50 to the other team, and the other team's captain could mindread the remaining teammates. This process was repeated with a new question for the opposing team, and the first to get $300 won the game.
The bonus game was played in two parts:
- Judge the Jury - ten audience members were brought out, and each civilian member of the team tried to predict how many of them answered yes to a personal question. Guessing the exact number won $500, but being off by one or two still won $200.
- Celebrity Turnabout - the civilian players predicted how the celebrity captain answered one last question. If the majority of civilians got it right, their Judge the Jury winnings were multiplied by 10.
Little remembered and little loved, it's generally seen as Goodson-Todman's worst game show (although Goodson himself considered the 1954 flop What's Going On? to be the worst). Mindreaders debuted on August 13, 1979, replacing the short-lived All-Star Secrets in the Noon timeslot. It was originally given a 26 week order, but performed so poorly that it was canned four weeks early, on January 11, 1980. It was replaced by Chain Reaction the following Monday.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Audience Participation: Ten people were pulled from the audience to play Judge the Jury.
- Bonus Round: A two-stage one. Judge the Jury decided what amount would be played for in Celebrity Turnabout, and playing both rounds perfectly netted $15,000.
- Consolation Prize
- Game Show Winnings Cap: Regardless of how well the teams did, both retired after playing three games against each other.
- Losing Horns: Type A for losing the bonus round.
- Rules Spiel: Done only when a new game started; if a game had straddled from one episode to the next, they jumped right into the game without explaining the rules or introducing the contestants. Granted, the rules aren't that hard to grasp, but knowing something about the contestants would've made it a little easier to play along.
This show provides examples of:
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: Blue podiums for the men's team, red for the women's team.
- Luck-Based Mission: To a ridiculous extent the players didn't actually get to do any mindreading unless they got to the bonus round, and even then the questions they had to guess could be total crapshoots. For example, one Judge the Jury question asked how many of the 10 audience members had an aspirin that morning.
- Opening Narration: "Are you a mindreader, yes or no? Will [female celebrity] say yes? Did [male celebrity] say no? Find out as we play a game of hunch and ESP...Mindreaders!"
- Pilot: Taped on August 3, 1979, ten days before the debut, making it more of a dress rehearsal.
- Rearrange the Song: The theme song was a prize cue on Celebrity Charades, redone with slightly different instrumentation.
- Title Drop: "Let's see if you can mindread them!"