Sunday, May 12, 2013

GSV Pilot Review #2: Gambit (1979)

GAMBIT (1979)

A Heatter-Quigley Production
Host: Wink Martindale
Dealer: Debbie Bartlett
Director: Jerome Shaw
Music: Stan Worth (The music was the same as Las Vegas Gambit)
Network: Unknown. If you, tell me.

Gambit was and will always be a classic. Why would they want to tinker around with a great format? Well they did. And it crashed and burned. 1979 came around and Heatter-Quigley wanted to pitch a revival with Wink, who would've potentially pulled double duty with Tic Tac Dough. The core of the main game stayed the same: answer questions to win cards, get 21. The game modifications just didn't click however.
Voila. The poster board slate.
Yes, that's a giant skeeball-type machine awkwardly placed in the center stage. More about that later.

With your host Wink...
And our new card dealer, Debbie Bartlett

MAIN GAME:  Get 21 or as close to it without going over. Answer a question correctly to earn the right to take or pass a card as dealt by Debbie.
Get 21, and you win this pot. The pot increased by $500 after every game it was not won. And clearly, Pacman  is in the background as part of the set and he would have made his debut here.
The Gambit Answer Machine. This was the first big problem, IMHO.
The form of the questions themselves is where the trouble started. Instead of knowledge questions like the original, the questions were Scrabble-like clues to a Hangman-style answer. Example below:

We're playing for a 3....
The clue: "He gets up very early."
The Gambit Answer Machine will then randomly select the number of letters revealed in the answer.
 It actually kind of resembles a Scrabble Sprint Round.

The clue again: He gets up very early. Naturally, we're looking for "Rooster."
  Two out of three games won the match and a chance at the pinball bonus game.

BONUS GAME:  The winning couple was given six balls, three for the husband, and three for the wife. The balls were just rolled into the board, there was no aiming at all. Wherever the ball rolled determined the prize. 
If the ball was rolled into a hole in a prize column, an ace, or a jack, it stayed there...

Get two balls under a prize column and win that prize....
Get two balls in either Ace plus either Jack, and you win a car for getting 21....

If the ball fell into one of those red dead zones, the ball was lost for the remainder of the bonus game.

Or  light all six letters in the word Gambit and win $10,000.

The couple could also light up the letters in the word Gambit for $10,000. Once the ball fell into a letter hole, it was popped back out and remained in play. The lit letters carried over into other bonus games. 
In order words, if a couple lit three of the letters in one bonus game and they won the following match, those three letters would stay lit, and they would only have to light the other three. Simple huh?

So long!

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: The answer board just did not work for Gambit, IMHO, I much preferred the general knowledge questions. The bonus game was completely out of place. Wink was Wink. The Answer Machine thankfully did not make it on Las Vegas Gambit. So now we know that there was a small relatively obscure entry into the history of Gambit. Ok b'bye.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GSV Pilot Review #1 - Puzzlers

Welcome to the first post of a new blog! Here I'll be including pretty much anything related to the site as well as reviews of pilots that never have seen the light of day. (And most likely never will.) An incredible resource for almost 150 other pilots if Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light, definitely a site not to miss.

I recently had the good fortune to screen a copy of Puzzlers, a Goodson-Todman pilot from 1980 intended for NBC. In my GSV logo on the top of the main site and on Youtube, I'd been teasing this review.  Now it's ready, and if you've ever wondered how this show worked..or didn't work in this're in the right place!

The colorful set as Johnny O. introduces the shows host....

Pat Sajak!

The Preliminary Game: The first round was a qualifying round with three contestants competing to solve a series of Double Puzzles, the answers of  which were two-word phrases. The winner of this qualifier won the right to compete against the show's current champ, a la Now You See It. 
The board looked something like this:

Pat doing his best pre-WoF Vanna pose to show the puzzle board...

Ready to be confused?  For the first half of the puzzle, the picture you see above serves as a clue to the second word of a 2-word phrase. The contestants are given the FIRST word of the phrase one letter at a time. For example:
Answer: "Broad Jump"

For the second half of the puzzle, the same picture serves as a clue to the FIRST word of a 2-word phrase. The contestants are now given the SECOND word of the phrase one letter at a time. Example:
LI_ _
Answer: "Ski Lift"

 100 points are awarded to the contestant each time he / she solves a puzzle correctly. If the contestant manages to solve both halves of the puzzle, an extra 100-point bonus is awarded. This round is played until a contestant reaches 500 points, upon which the round is over and the winner receives $500 and moves on to compete against the current champ.

FINALS: "Capture The Category"

 The winner of the qualifying round and the reigning champ now compete in a series of "Puzzlers" to determine who goes on to the bonus game. Fives categories with different types of puzzles are shown, and the first contestant to capture 3 categories wins the game.
 A contestant can capture a category by correctly solving two puzzles within that category. 
For example, for "Missing Initials," the object is to identify the missing first letter that ties together a group of words. For one of those puzzles, you'd see something like this:

Before "_ ARZAN," hilarity ensued.

Several of the categories happened to resemble other shows that had yet to come to exist! There was "License Plates" with the contestants trying to solve the phrase indicated by a vanity plate, a la Bumper Stumpers. There was another called "Twisters" with contestants trying to solve the phrase illustrated through puzzles resembling those found on Catch Phrase. The contestant that captured 3 out of 5 categories won the game and moved onto....

The $10,000 Photo Finish Bonus Round!

Let's change formats again, and now we have a bonus game reminiscent of Blockbusters.
 Behind each circle is a set of initials and a picture clue to help identify what the initials stand for. In one of them, you'd see a picture of Vincent Price and the initials "VP."  $100 is given for each correct answer, but solve 10 of those in a scant 30 seconds and you win $10,000. It's a pilot so of course the contestant won it all.
I do question the actual feasibility of winning the jackpot in a situation where the contestant wasn't given the answers ahead of time. 

Final Impressions
It had a few positive things in common with Mindreaders: the same nifty theme music and a cool vibrantly colored set. Unfortunately, it also shared lousy quality in terms of format. 
The game itself was just a jumble of different types of puzzles which caused the format to change every 5 minutes. The $10,000 top prize in the bonus game would have probably not been given away frequently had the show become a series due to only having 30 seconds. 
One of the highlights was Pat, who moved the game along smoothly and was his normal joking self that we'd come to know every day on 'Wheel' a couple of years later.
If you attended the pilot, you were eligible for a stereo door prize for your trouble.

Final Grade: C+