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Series / Whammy

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Third version of Bill Carruthers' Game Show Second Chance, which became famous in its second iteration, Press Your Luck. Whammy!, a revival of the latter, was hosted by Todd Newton on GSN from 2002-03.

The main difference between this and its predecessors was that Round 1 gave each contestant $1,000 and the opportunity to press or "freeze" before each of their spins. After each contestant had a turn, more Whammies were added to the board, and hitting a Whammy eliminated you from the rest of the round.

Round 2 was the Question Round, containing contestant interviews and five questions, while Round 3 was just like normal Press.

Season 2 added a "Big Bank" to the game, which began at $3,000; every time a player hit a Whammy, his/her winnings were added to the total. Hitting a Big Bank space gave that player a chance to win the entire bonus by correctly answering a question.


Whammy! ended after 26 weeks in a move by GSN to branch out past game shows into other fields, such as video games, although repeats have aired for most of the period since. Since 2003, all franchise-related merchandise, foreign versions, video games, etc. have been adaptations of this or Press Your Luck.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Space: "$x00 + One Spin" spaces, as before. There were none in Round 1, due to the format above. The board also had Pick-A-Prize (which usually had about 10-12 choices at any given time) and returning favorite $2,000 Or Lose-A-Whammy.
  • Consolation Prize: An Argus digital camera in Season 1, a Croton watch with a Whammy on it in Season 2.
  • Covered in Gunge: The result of a Double Whammy, only present in the final Big Board round. Contestants who hit one of these were subjected to a physical element associated with the animation, such as being sprayed with water or having grass clippings dumped over their heads.
  • Advertisement:
  • Extra Turn: The "$x00 + One Spin" spaces.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: One-and-done, which didn't really work out too well when people were the "big winner" with less than $3,000. The only contestant to win with $0 due to her opponents Whammying-Out was invited back on a later episode, while 12 contestants were invited back for the very last week of shows.
  • Golden Snitch: The Big Bank. (See below.)
  • Personnel:
  • Progressive Jackpot: The Big Bank, which started at $3,000 and grew by whatever was lost to the Whammy. If a player landed on a Big Bank space, s/he was asked one question. Answering it correctly (and it had to be exact) broke the Bank, which was usually enough to put them far ahead of everyone else.
  • Promotional Consideration
  • Undesirable Prize:
    • The GEM Car. Did anyone actually want that thing?
    • Same could be said for a lot of the prizes. Who wanted a $300 year's supply of M&Ms when that was also the lowest cash amount on the board? The "His & Hers Roller Skates" were also a prime example, as well as every prize worth $300 or less on this list — all 100+ of them.
  • Whammy: Same as before, but he's now a computer-animated character.

This show provides examples of:

  • April Fools' Day: In 2003, Graham Elwood guest-hosted as part of GSN's April Fools' Day host switcharound. For each of the first three spins in Round 1, the space landed on was turned into a "Newton" (represented by Todd making a face resembling that of the Big Tongue Whammy from Press), which awarded the contestant an outlandish (and fake) prize before saying "April Fool's!" and giving them another turn.
  • Ascended Glitch: The game board on the original Press Your Luck featured 18 screens with values that almost always changed at the same time, but would occasionally have half of the screens changing out of sync with the other half. Whammy actually implements - and even amplifies - this behavior in Round 2. Not only do each of the 18 screens change independently from each other, but their values also change at semi-random intervals.
  • Balloon Belly: Happens to a hungry supermodel Whammy when she makes a meal out of a contestant's earnings.
  • Call-Back: Round 1's dollar values included $470 and $525, both of which were present on Press Your Luck.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Mostly the above, but on the last day of taping then-Fremantle employee Mandel Ilagan (probably best known for creating Half Off for The Price Is Right) hosted the final rehearsal game, giving the rules from memory.
  • Catch Phrase:
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whammy's dog Fang is absent from the animations.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Todd could be this when dealing with a Whammy's aftereffects.
  • Double Unlock: Winning the car required contestants to collect both "pieces" ("Gem" and "Car" in Season 1, two halves of a key in Season 2) and win the game. In Season 1, hitting a Whammy at any point in the game took the car out of consideration note . This was fixed with the Big Bank.
  • Downer Ending: One episode had a contestant rack up over $25,000 with one passed spin left (meaning she had to take it). She hit a Double Whammy with that last spin and lost the game, but that memorable loss led to her return for the Tournament of Losers episode.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first two taped episodes lacked the $1,000 rule at the start of Round 1.
    • The first 12 taped episodes featured a smaller font for the Big Board, plus had different coloring on the contestant podium and no yellow background on the Whammy indicators that popped up in front of the players. Also, at least one of these episodes featured a regular Whammy that would later be repurposed for use as a Double Whammy. note 
  • Flawless Victory: In Season 1, winning the GEM car (or any prizes in Round 1), required the player to win the game without hitting a single Whammy along the way due to the rules regarding participation in Round 1. Although this happened with regular prizes, no GEM car was ever awarded. In fact, every single player who won the GEM card in Round 1 ended up hitting a Whammy later in the game, losing the card.
  • Foregone Victory: At least once, two contestants Whammied-Out (eliminated themselves from the game), leaving one player to use their remaining spins playing against the house, as had been the case on Press (and, presumably, Chance before it). On that contestant's final spin, instead of the board showing an image of her versus the person in 2nd/1st place, it showed the image of the Whammy to indicate that she was indeed playing against the house and could still lose.
  • Four Is Death: As before, getting four Whammies knocked you out of the game.
  • Inflation Negation: Premiered 16 years after Press Your Luck ended, but retained the same nominal values in Square #4 despite inflation going up about 63% in America during that span. Justified, in that a cable channel the caliber of Game Show Network would most definitely have a smaller budget than CBS.
  • Limited Animation: Averted, with WIT Animation providing rather impressive 3-D CGI Whammies (most notably the Tarzan Whammy, which smacked into the screen quite realistically, and was the first Whammy used in a taped episode).
  • Luck-Based Mission: Even going so far as to say it was "Larson-proof".
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Ed and Janie, Michael Larson's opponents when he broke the bank on Press, were invited back to play Whammy! against his brother James, since Michael had died in 1999. note 
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Several of the Whammy animations, both regular and Double, were call backs to those of the original Press Your Luck, most notably the "Lawnmower" Whammy.
    • One regular Whammy had the creature in a boxing ring dressed in "wrestler"-type clothing, including a yellow mask around his eyes, harking back to the original Whammy's appearance.
  • Nintendo Hard: This version of Press Your Luck is this trope due to new rules regarding participation plus additional Whammy squares and an even more random board pattern than the classic format.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed / Shout-Out: Among the many new Whammies were expies of George Foreman, Emeril Lagasse, Martha Stewart, Steve Irwin, Britney Spears, Ozzy Osbourne, Anne Robinson, Judge Judy, Harry Potter, and *NSYNC.
  • No Indoor Voice: Todd freakin' Newton. Justified, in that he actually had a likable personality and genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself rather than simply being the loud-voiced, robotic, only-here-for-the-paycheck, pretty-boy kind of emcee that became so common in the aughties (such as Ty Treadway).
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Double Whammy" only added one Whammy to the player's total. The "Double" came from the Whammy animation ending end with the player covered in something like confetti, Silly String, or something else.
  • Obvious Beta: The pilots had a "Whammy Guard", awarded to a player for earning the maximum 12 spins in the Question Round, that negated the next Whammy hit.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • The Big Bank, which made the car much more likely to be won. Kind of hard to miss the display below the contestants... The only car given away in a regular game was won through the Big Bank, after several Whammies took the Key halves from other players.
    • The show also had any player that hit a Whammy in Round 1 be eliminated from the rest of the round. This is to address a rare but serious problem from Press Your Luck where it was possible for a player to Whammy-Out in Round 1 and be unable to play in Round 2 because of it (although this also made winning anything from Round 1, such as one half of the car, much more difficult).
  • Opening Narration:
    • Season 1 (2002): "The game with big bucks and Whammies is back, bigger and better than ever! It's time to play Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck!"
    • Season 2 (2003): "The game with big bucks and Whammies is even bigger and better than ever! It's time to press your luck and play Whammy!"
  • Pilot: Two of them were taped on February 13, 2002, and were respectively hosted by Peter Tomarken and Todd Newton. Clips from them made it to early GSN promos.
  • Product Placement: One Double Whammy dove into a bowl of M&Ms; the resulting splash dumped a boatload of them on the player. A year’s supply of M&Ms also appeared on the board as a prize.
  • Press X to Die: One of the options presented by two Move 1 Space squares in Round 2 could have been a Double Whammy.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Again, the Whammies.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Round 3 had 11 Whammies for most of the run, up from nine in Round 2 on Press and three Devils on Chance, plus the squares now each changed on their own instead of the whole board changing at once, never mind the "Larson-Proof" light pattern. For the record, there was no spike between Chance and Press, as both had the same chance of hitting the villain (3/18 = 9/54 = 1/6).
  • Stock Sound Effects: The "WHAMZILLA!" Whammy used authentic Godzilla sound effects, including the roar (a fusion of the classic Showa and early Heisei roars), and the iconic footstep sound from the original. Exactly how GSN got away with this is unknown, since Toho is veeeery protective of their properties.
  • Take That!: One Double Whammy mocked Enron! note 
  • Trademark Favorite Food: One of the Whammy animations has a Whammy that loves M&M's and dives into a bowl of them, then starts swimming; Todd actually joked on one instance "the Whammy that melts in your mouth, not in your hands". This Whammy would be used even if the contestant didn't earn the M&Ms supply in Round 1 as a plug-in.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs:invoked Early GSN commercials for the series began with "This is your Whammy" (the rollerskating Whammy from Press that slips and hits his head), followed by "This is your Whammy on the all-new Press Your Luck" (clips from both of the 2002 pilots).
  • Transpacific Equivalent: The Philippines got Whammy! Push Your Luck, which ran on the GMA Network from 2007-08. Hosted by Paolo Bediones and Rufa Mae Quinto, the show was virtually identical to the American version.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Big Bank. Although a decent idea ("Whammying the Whammy"), it was marred by some incredibly-hard questions (including one where the contestant's guess was The Godfather and the answer was The Godfather Part 2) and the fact that it pretty much brought the excitement to a halt.
  • Visual Pun: The Double Whammy animations had the "W" symbol on the Whammy's chest divided into two - "double whammy", get it?


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