$20,000 was the last daytime network game show to be taped in New York City and the last network game show overall to originate there until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 1999.
$50,000 was the first game show to use electromagnetic seven-flipper displays (commonly referred to as vanes). They were used for the clock while the scores were still being kept track on Solari boards. On the other hand, it was also the last game show to originate from the Elysee Theater in New York (it was torn down 4 years later, and the site is currently a choir school).
The clocks on the 80s versions were controlled in two different ways. Viewers at home saw chroma-keyed vanes while those in-studio saw an eggcrate display. The latter was only shown on camera when Dick Clark requested a shot of it, usually in the event of a close Winner's Circle win.
Blooper: On the June 10, 1983 episode, the contestants played the Mystery 7. It was not realized until after the round was finished (and the prize won) that the computer had given them the words for one of the other categories instead. As a result, Dick had to make up a new category for the still-unplayed Mystery 7 words.
Channel Hop: Started on CBS in 1973, moved to ABC a year later (six weeks after CBS canceled it), returned to CBS in 1982 for a six-year run. Also had syndicated nighttime editions, as well as the daily 1991 and 2002-04 versions. In addition, there's the 2012 GSN version and the 2016 ABC edition.
Development Hell: No fewer than ten pilots were made from 1996-2012; of those, only two went to series (The Pyramid not even lasting a full season).
The Davidson version was packaged as "The New $100,000 Pyramid", and is still referred to as such to distinguish it from the 1980s run. The Strahan version is also being referred to as that name in certain ABC promos.
In a Portmanteau, Osmond's version is nicknamed "Donnymid". Some have also used "Mikeymid" to refer to the Mike Richards-hosted The Pyramid.
Hey, It's That Sound!: The "cuckoo" sound for an illegal clue later appeared as an "illegal clue" sound on two other Stewart games Chain Reaction and Go, the both of which also borrowed the "plonk" timer. It was also used as the "out of time" sound on the disastrous 1989 version of Jackpot.
Many episodes of the 1970's daytime versions were wiped due to company policy at Bob Stewart Productions. The company would hold on to the episodes for about two months after they had aired, then reuse the tapes, and continued to do so until June 1978. However, there are some exceptions:
$10,000 (CBS): Episode #3 is held by UCLA, #5 was uploaded by a contestant's relative in January 2011, June 13 (with Kaye Ballard and Richard Deacon) circulated for years and has been on YouTube, and the three weeks recorded at Television City (aired November 1973) all exist, with GSN showing 14 of the TVC shows. All fifteen shows of $10,000 taped at Television City feature a big-winner clip montage from episodes believed to be gone. Same goes for Cullen's $25,000pitchfilm, which showed ten wins (some from the aforementioned montages, others from subsequent tapings), all believed to be the only surviving footage from their respective episodes.
$10,000 (ABC): Almost completely gone. A 1974 promo exists, along with William Shatner's solo Winner's Circle outing (June 27, 1975). A few scant $10,000 wins exist due to clips being used in the intros of surviving early $20,000 episodes. An uncensored clip from the week of December 30, 1974 surfaced in April 2012.
$20,000: Several 1976 shows, the week of September 12, 1977 ("Kirk vs. Spock", with Shatner's chair throw), and a few episodes from 1978 prior to the earliest one GSN aired; the last 19 minutes from February 9, 1977 surfaced in December 2011, followed by November 2 and 3, 1976 in October 2013. GSN aired about five straight months from 1978 and some scattered episodes from 1979 (including the Junior Pyramid week on July 9); about 15 episodes from 1979-80 (after the latest one GSN aired) also circulate, including the All-Star Junior Pyramid special, an episode of Junior Partner Pyramid, and the finale week.
The Cullen $25,000, the 1981 $50,000, and the 1991 $100,000 (plus certain episodes of $20,000 from 1978-80) have never been rerun although they exist; this is due to rights issues (the first was distributed by Viacom, so CBS technically owns the rights to that version; meanwhile, CPM Inc, the firm that distributed $50,000, was apparently a division of Colgate-Palmolive, so presumably they own the rights there); Davidson's run was distributed by Orbis Communications, which was sold by then-owner Carolco Pictures to Multimedia Entertainment (the people who made Donahue and Jerry Springer in 1992; Universal then bought out Multimedia in 1996, which means that NBCUniversal owns both Davidson's Pyramid and Pat Finn's version of The Joker's Wild). GSN has aired three or four brief clips of the second Cullen episode with Shatner and Anne Meara. The Cullen $25,000 was last reran in the mid-1980's and the 1981 $50,000, on CBN in 1982.
To understand the frustrating and complex rerun history of New $25,000, one must start at the beginning. Off-network reruns premiered on October 17, 1988 on USA Network with the October 8, 1984 episode. They played virtually each week in order for the next three years and four months, occasionally being preempted by USA's sports programming, and concluding with the July 1, 1988 finale on February 7, 1992. Beginning with 1991, USA issued a policy in which any weeks with less than five episodes were skipped; before, they would fill those up by using shows from different weeks as gap fillers. On February 10, 1992, USA jumped backwards to October 17, 1983, and finished up said year on April 17, 1992. From April 20 to December 31, 1992, January 9-September 20, 1984 was played. On January 4, 1993, USA jumped even further back, and ran the earliest episodes from October 4, 1982, skipping the first two weeks. They finished 1993 with the October 7, 1983 episode. On January 3, 1994, they started with October 1, 1984, and took the show off the schedule on November 4, after showing the August 16, 1985 episode. Reruns were picked up by GSN three years later on October 11, 1997. They showed the first two weeks, both of which USA didn't show. Although the weekday rotation was taken off on April 20, 1998, GSN continued to air the show on weekends. They got to as far as September 26, 1983 on April 30, 2000, before cycling back to the 1982 premiere. Along the way, they showed the second finale from 1988 on December 31, 1999. In October 2001, out of nowhere, GSN debuted "new" episodes of the show from towards the end of the run. They started with Tuesday, November 24, 1987 and made it all the way to the previously-shown second finale in April 2002 (during this time, the second CBS Soaps week from November 16-20, taped out of order, was also shown). In addition, promos were ran that showed clips from October-November 1983 episodes. These clips seemed to indicate that GSN had converted at least 30 additional episodes from September 27 to November 7, 1983. But, GSN didn't show them at the time. No more "new" episodes would appear on GSN until March 30, 2009, when they started airing 200 shows from September 2, 1985 to June 17, 1986, which concluded in December 2009. Another 200 "new" episodes followed from May to December 2012, consisting of June 20, 1986 to April 22, 1987 shows. From May to October 2014, May 6-August 30, 1985 shows debuted, as did October 19-November 23/September 21-25, 1987 episodes (the latter was an all-star Celebrity tournament week, taped out of order), along with all 91 that were previously aired on GSN (November 23, 1987-July 1, 1988/November 16-20, 1987). GSN finally got around to showing those six weeks of shows from Fall 1983 in July 2017. Fans who were hoping for a continuation into 1984 had their hearts sunk when GSN jumped to May 6, 1985 a month later in August. As of this writing, November 8, 1983-May 3, 1985 and April 23-October 16, 1987 (minus September 21-25) have yet to be rerun on GSN, which comes out to a total of 485 episodes.
GSN constantly skipping 1984 in their rerun rotation has fueled rumors from a few people online that the tapes of the 1984 episodes might not even exist anymore, or got so badly damaged that they can never be converted to digital. Back in 1997, GSN confirmed in an email that they had the entire run of the show, which would also include 1984. But again, that post was made in 1997. Whether or not something happened to the tapes of the 1984 episodes between 1997 and now, remains unclear at this point.
Long-Runners: Every year from 1973-88 featured at least one version in first-run, fifteen years total. 1974-79 and 1985-88 featured two versions a daytime version, and a big-money nighttime version.
Regarding GSN's 2012 version, five episodes (#1016-#1020) were filmed with Aida and Nick Turturro. However, they played so abysmally badly that GSN only saw fit to air three of them!note #1017-#1018 and #1020 to be exact (In one unaired Winner's Circle, Nick Turturro was buzzed for illegal clues five times. Keep in mind that there are six subjects in the Winner's Circle.) To fill the gaps and have an even 40 aired episodes, GSN filmed two extra episodes (with Kate Flannery & Jim O'Heir and Melissa Peterman & Samantha Harris respectively). Pilot #3 (with a slightly different set, theme song, & graphics) was intended to air from the get go as the finale.
Regarding ABC's 2016 $100,000 version, one match with Peri Gilpin & Ice-T was shelved by ABC for reasons unknown. It eventually aired as the second half of the August 27, 2017 episode in season 2. A second season episode with Kathy Najimy & Yvette Nicole Brown in the first half and Vanessa Williams & Gary Cole in the in the second half was shelved by ABC, but a year later on June 26, ABC announced an airdate of July 15.
The Davidson revival got hit with this, using cheaper rotating bonus cards. The two Double Trouble categories replaced 7-11 on the Tuesday/Thursday shows of each week, and Gamble for a Trip replaced Mystery 7, with sister bonus Gamble for a Grand permanently replacing 7-11 late in the first season. This version also scrapped the $5,000 bonus for breaking a 21-21 tie.
The Osmond version and it shows.
You had to beat the Winner's Circle twice to win $25,000. Previously, if you made it to the Winner's Circle both times, you played for $25,000 regardless of whether or not you won the first time.
Winner's Circle categories often consisted of Moon Logic Puzzles and impossibly strict judging. The boxes had to be guessed verbatim instead of just "the essence" being said.
Hiring celebrities who clearly had no idea how to play the gameor worse, did not speak English as a first language (such as Russian-born Lenny Krayzelburg). This screwed good contestants out of qualifying for the tournament.
Speaking of the tournament, you also had to beat the Winner's Circle twice in one show to win. If no one succeeded, the contestant whose score was the highest merely had their score augumented to $100,000.
The GSN revival had no main game bonuses.
Out of Order: Donnymid and The Pyramid usually took the weeks they made and aired the individual episodes at various points. An aired week could have as many as five different sets of celebrities.
Production Posse: Half the celebrities you'd see in the 70s and especially the 80s would frequently show up on other shows and pilots produced by Bob Stewart and/or his son Sande- Bill Cullen, Geoff Edwards, Nipsey Russell, Teresa Ganzel, Markie Post, Ilene Graff, Henry Polic II, Jo Anne Worley, Nathan Cook, etc.
Many weeks of CBS $10,000 didn't air as originally scheduled, and would often overlap due to the Watergate hearings.
Four weeks of New $25,000 shows that were supposed to air in July 1987 got pushed ahead to August, due to the Iran-Contra hearings. Reruns of weeks #227, #229, #230, and #231 aired throughout July.
Technology Marches On: You can chart the evolution of monitors just by looking at the show over the years. The 70s version had bulky beasts of monitors. The 80s-90s runs had far smaller, more discreet monitors. Donnymid had laptop-esque monitors built into the desks partners would flip open and shut as needed. The 2012 version had flat-screens with CRT-like bases, to fit with the retro feel. The 2016 version has flatscreens on sticks. Concerning everything else, they went from pull cards and trilons in the 70s, to monitors and trilons in the early 90s, to all-monitors for Donnymid, back to monitors and trilons for the 2009 pilots, flatscreens with trilon graphics in 2012, and 2016 not only saw monitor/trilon hybrids, but also monitors built into the desks, for the words and score counter.
Uncanceled: The 1980s $25,000 was canned at the end of 1987 and replaced by Blackout, a word-description game from Jay Wolpert. After thirteen weeks, Blackout tanked in the resulting outcry, and Pyramid returned only to be replaced 13 weeks later by Ray Combs' Family Feud.
Bob Stewart developed the show under the working title Cash on the Line and taped a pilot on February 2, 1973; CBS hated everything about it except for the end game, which became Pyramid's main game. Here's a photo.
Originally, the Winner's Circle had 10 subjects (which is what TV Guide showed in its synopsis of the debut in the March 24-30, 1973 issue, the bottom four boxes awarding $25 each) but, two nights before taping the premiere, Stewart called CBS and said there was no way anyone could get 10 subjects in a minute. He had a two-by-four plank nailed over the bottom four boxes, which remained during the initial CBS run (taped at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York) and shortly into the ABC run.
New $25,000 almost didn't happen. Dick Clark was hosting a pilot for a CBS game show produced by Bob Stewart called Second Guess, but the pilot didn't go as well as they hoped it would. After countless attempts to get it up and running, Dick said to Bob "Why don't you just revive Pyramid instead?"...and so, without the need for a pilot, the Television City era of Pyramid began production as soon as possible.