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Series / What Would You Do? (Nickelodeon)

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What Would You Do? was a children's game show hosted by Marc Summers that aired on Nickelodeon. It was created and executive produced by Woody Fraser in the wake of his success with another series he created and executive produced for Nickelodeon, Wild and Crazy Kids. The premise was similar to Candid Camera, as Marc would tape people in unusual situations and ask the audience (set around Universal Studios Florida, the network's original home in the 90s), "What would you do?" before the outcome was shown. Other aspects of the show involved members of the Studio Audience and Marc getting messy from some sort of contraptions, most of which involved pies.

The show went through a slight Retool between seasons:

  • In the first season, more emphasis was placed on skits and stunts that did not have a messy outcome. The only pie device that was regularly used was the Pie Pod, and it was not even in every episode. Each show ended with the What Would You Do? medley, where people would perform gross stunts that were on cards taped to their heads or go to the Pie Pod.
  • In the second season, more emphasis was placed on games and getting people messy, with new pie devices like the Pie Wash. Each show ended with the Wall O' Stuff, where people would open panels what would either give them a cheap gift, a card to go to a pie device, or a direct messy consequence like a pie or whip cream being shot in their face.

Compare to Family Challenge, a later show from the same creator that aired on The Family Channel (now Freeform), hosted by Ray Combs and later Michael Burger, which played like a cross between Double Dare (1986) and WWYD?, including reusing many of the latter's trademark pie-in-the-face gags.

Like Wild and Crazy Kids, the show was produced by Woody Fraser Productions and Nickelodeon alongside Reeves Entertainment Group, a production company owned at the time by Thames Television. After the first season, however, Fraser stepped down as executive producer, and as a result, Reeves Entertainment became sole production partner with Nickelodeon.

Not to be confused with the ABC show What Would You Do?, although both shows use hidden cameras as an element.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Zonk: Some doors in the Wall O' Stuff contained cards that would send them to a pie contraption, and sometimes contestants would have pies thrown at them or be squirted with whipped cream upon opening the door.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In the Cold Open for one episode, someone standing in line called him "Marc Sumters".
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Used almost verbatim as the title of a Season Two feature. It usually involved a kid attempting to perform a stunt such as playing harmonica with their nose and challenging their parent to do the same. If the parent failed, they would get pied by their kid or sent to a pie device; if the kid failed and/or the parent succeeded, the kid got pied by their parent or sent to a pie device.
  • "Before" and "After" Pictures: Marc shows a before and after picture of make-up artist Lee Grimes making an older person look younger; the younger photo is Marc himself.
  • Black Comedy: The guy in the Stan’s Cola segment listed below under Precision F-Strike ad-libbed a joke at the end that it was available at Saddam Hussein’s Grocery. (Considering that it was ordinary off-the-shelf cola with Tabasco, garlic powder, vinegar, and pickle juice mixed in...)
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': On rare occasions, all four (or five) pies in the Pie Pod would miss their intended target. The victim wouldn't get away scot free, as that meant a relative or friend would get to manually place a pie square in the victim's face.
  • Catchphrase: What Would You Do?.... not used as often as one would think.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper:
    • In one of the "memory game" contests in the second season, one girl's father ducked not once, but twice, when his daughter tried to pie him. Eventually not only was another one of his kids finally able to land a direct hit, but the father was also sent to the Pie Pod in addition as punishment for cheating.
    • In another "memory game" episode, one boy was stumped with an answer so his father whispered it to him. Marc overheard it, so he made the boy pie his father as punishment.
    • In another season 2 episode, a boy and his father played a game in which they had to throw rubber chickens into a giant pie crust, with the loser (whoever's crust had fewer chickens in it after 30 seconds) being sent to the Pie Wash. The rules stipulated that the chickens had to be thrown one at a time, but, as Marc pointed out after time had expired, the father had been throwing multiple chickens at once, and was effectively disqualified and sent to the Pie Wash.
    • In yet another season 2 memory game, a man had to memorize the contents of a grocery shopping list. Then, he had to grab eight of the ten items on the list and put them into his prop shopping cart within 30 seconds. Success would send his daughter to the Pie Wash, failure would send him to the Pie Wash. At the end, he got seven items and then lied that he had an eighth, which was a broom. He initially got away with it, as his daughter got sent to the Pie Wash. However, the producers later discovered that he didn't actually have the broom. They resolved this by giving his daughter the option of a free token to the Wall of Stuff or pieing him in retaliation. Not surprisingly, she chose the pie.
  • The Chew Toy: Any audience member who is chosen, yet doesn't want to go along with the game.
  • Cold Open: Every episode opens with a quick game before the main titles.
  • Covered in Gunge: Slime was used in some games, especially during Season One (i.e. the "Crowning Glory"), although it was referred to as "pie filling" (actual, i.e. cherry, pie filling was used in some games) and was pink instead of green as was the Nickelodeon norm. In one show, a dad ended up gunged by accident when the gunge tank he was standing under malfunctioned.
  • Cringe Comedy: Major premise, and especially notable when the producers messed with Marc (who has OCD). For his own part, Marc has said the OCD thing has been blown out of proportion and that he did not have a major problem with the mess.
  • Crossover: With Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple and Nick Arcade called "Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge" that aired during The Big Help in 1994.
  • Eat That: Some of the dares during the What Would You Do? Medley including eating bizarre food combinations such as a Twinkie with gravy, a hamburger with honey, ice cream with ketchup, "Stan's Cola", etc. Most of these are like Fear Factor later on. Sometimes the participants were so grossed out that they quickly changed their minds and opted to go to the Pie Pod instead.
  • Every Episode Ending: The "What Would You Do? Medley" in the first season, and the "Wall O' Stuff" in the second.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Marc would ask contestants What Would You Do?
  • Fanservice: A woman once went to the pie pod in a sports bra.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Two contestants, one game, someone's going to be covered in whipped cream very soon. Subverted in the second season, when the winner was offered a token to the Wall O' Stuff or a pie device for their opponent. When the winners kept choosing the tokens, the producers began offering them a chance to either send their opponent to the pie device or go themselves, and several of them decided they wanted to get messy.
    • Whenever Marc asks the audience how many pies they want the contestant to get hit with in the Pie Pod, the answer is always four. (Five in the second season.) As Marc often quipped, "They never let me down."
  • The Glomp: In one Season 2 episode, an "Anything You Can Do" challenge involved a boy challenging his mother to play a harmonica with her nose. When the mother was able to do it, she got to pie her son. Immediately afterward, the boy threw his arms around his mom's waist.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: A "man on the street" segment in the first season featured people around Universal Studios singing in order to get a dog to howl. One Hispanic family managed to get the dog to howl by singing the traditional Mexican song "Cielito Lindo." note 
  • Incest Subtext: In a season 2 episode themed around country music, Marc picked a mother and son from the audience to sing a song about the mother wanting pie, with lyrics such as: "I'll supply the crust and you supply the filling." This got shocked reactions from some people in the audience, although it likely went over many younger viewers' heads. The song ended with the son pieing his mother, followed by the mother reprising the last line of the song as a duet with Marc.
  • Joke of the Butt: A season 1 episode had two dancers and audience participants performing "The Butt Dance", where they wore padding to make their butts look huge.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The show would end with Marc signing off, yet things still went on during the credits, including and especially someone being placed in a pie device.
  • Mascot: The latter part of the second season featured a trained monkey assisting Marc instead of Robin or a kid assistant.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on some people's face when they get chosen out of the audience, or when they lose a challenge and know they're about to face some kind of pie punishment.
  • Once an Episode: Someone goes to a pie device, usually the Pie Pod.
  • Pie in the Face: Half the show was coming up with new ways to pie people.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Guy: Try Stan's Cola, the new soft drink that brings you... [laughs]... brings joy to your taste buds. [takes a drink of cola] And it tastes like [bleep]! [cut to a double shot of guy and Marc, who is laughing hysterically] And it goes down like [bleep], and it's the coolest [bleep]! ... Stan's Cola is now available at Saddam Hussein's Grocery.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Usually done by Marc when a contestant went down the Pie Coaster, timed to when they would go through the pies: "What Would! You Do!"
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The show borrowed most of its musical cues from a show already airing on Nick at the time, Wild and Crazy Kids. Both were produced by Woody Fraser and featured music by Alan Ett.
  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...: Two instruction cards from the Wall O' Stuff had these:
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    A trip to the Pie Pod,
    Is waiting for you.

    Roses are red,
    Envy is green,
    After the Pie Wash,
    You'll be squeaky clean.
  • Second-Person Attack: One of the "Pie-a-Thon" episodes in the first season opened with Marc yelling, "The first person to get hit with a pie is YOU!" and splatting a pie into the camera.
  • Special Guest: Many episodes featured a guest star, some more famous than others. Of note, prolific voice actor Dee Bradley Baker appeared a few times before his career really took off.
  • Title Drop: In every episode. It makes sense given the show's premise.
  • Title Theme Tune: The entire theme song consisted of the words "What Would You Do?"
  • Toilet Humour: One remote segment had a shoe salesman rigged with a device that intermittently made fart noises.