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Series / Russian Roulette

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A GSN Game Show in which four contestants competed in a last-player-standing quiz contest. Each player stands on one of the six trap doors on the circular floor. A player who misses a multiple-choice question must play Russian Roulette, by pulling a lever to spin the "Drop Zones", to stay in the game.

The first question had one Drop Zone, indicated by a red border; each question after that added a Drop Zone until five were in play. If time ran out during the first two rounds, a randomly selected contestant would be dropped. (The leading player pulled the lever, and was safe from dropping. If there was a tie for the lead, the host pulled the lever and everyone was in danger.) If it happened during the third round, the trailing contestant was immediately eliminated. Any contestant standing in a Drop Zone fell three feet (six feet in season 1) through the floor and out of the game. The last contestant in the game advanced to the Bonus Round for a chance to win up to $100,000.

This show provides examples of:

  • The Announcer: Burton Richardson. Yes, really.
  • Any Last Words?: Upon answering a question incorrectly, the player has a chance to say these before playing Russian Roulette.
  • April Fools' Day: As a part of GSN's host switcharound in 2003, Todd Newton from Whammy! took the helm. In the audience sat the real Mark next to Kennedy (from Friend or Foe?)... as well as the Whammy.
  • Bonus Round: A bit different, depending on the season. In either case, the player had 60 seconds to complete the round, with a drop zone opening every ten seconds. One miss ended the game and dropped them right away. Victory awarded $10,000 and a chance to play another game of Russian Roulette to turn it into $100,000.
    • Season 1: Five "killer" questions (word jumbles, math problems and general-knowledge questions) were read, and the player had to say "My answer is..." before each answer. Each right answer was worth $500.
    • Season 2. Ten multiple-choice questions (each with three choices), worth $300 apiece. The player no longer had to say "My answer is..." before each answer. Also see Obvious Rule Patch.
  • Born Lucky: Ned "Car Wax and Shark" Peterson.
  • Catchphrase: "Watch your step."
  • Deadly Game: The game was named after and the premise was built around one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mark. L. Walberg.
  • Eject the Loser: Hence, the drop zones.
  • Game Show Host: Mark L. Walberg. Todd Newton hosted on April Fool's Day 2003, which was one of the series’ last first-run episodes. The show bowed shortly after its first anniversary.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: If a player won the $10,000, he could play one more round of Russian Roulette with the drop zones that had opened for a chance at $90,000 more, with a drop losing the $10,000. Even if he declined, they would pull the handle anyway (with the player off the drop zone) to see what would have happened.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The bonus round changed from answering five "killer" questions to answering ten multiple-choice questions, with the timer starting after Mark read the first question. They also no longer had to say "My answer is" before each answer.
  • Opening Narration: "Four strangers. One goal: to win a head-to-head competition for the chance of $100,000. One wrong answer could be their last... this is Russian Roulette. From [place], [occupation] [name]; from [place], [occupation] [name]; from [place], [occupation] [name]; from [place], [occupation] [name]. Now here's our host, Mark... L. ... Walberg..."
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: Being liked wasn't enough to keep the studio audience from shouting "Drop, drop, drop, drop!" as watching this was in large part what they had come there for.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: A contestant named Karen had control of a question about sclerotherapy and admitted that she knew the answer before the choices were given. She assumed that another female contestant, Jennifer, didn't know that it was used to treat varicose veins. Jennifer answered the question incorrectly. She admitted that she doesn't have varicose veins and nonchalantly implies that Karen's had them before.
    Mark: This may be a lot more fun than we anticipated!
  • Self-Deprecation: One contestant from Canada admitted to being very fond of maple syrup.
  • Unwinnable by Design: It was very possible for a contestant to never get a single question in round 1, then get eliminated through a sudden death drop, losing without ever getting the opportunity to play. (Or even speak at all!) This happened a couple times, and Mark never wasted an opportunity to joke about it when it happened.
    Mark: He did absolutely nothing... except fall! He came all this way here just to drop through a hole, and we thank him for it!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: One contestant managed to survive a round 3 spin with all five Drop Zones; the most difficult in the entire game, with only a 1-in-6 chance of beating it. She happily celebrated her lucky spin... and then the "time's up" signal immediately sounded. Since it was the final round and she had just lost all her money, she was dropping anyway.
    Mark: You may have survived that spin, but you won't survive this. *contestant drops*

Until next time... watch your step!