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+


  1. I wonder if the stereo door prize was the Rotel 555 Music System...they often gave those away to lucky audience poll members on 'Mindreaders'.

  2. The "T" clip was even seen in one of the Game Show Moments Gone Bananas specials VH-1 aired.

  3. Having finally watched Wink Martindale's copy of the 'Puzzlers' pilot (on YouTube), there is one slight inaccuracy on the 'Photo Finish' bonus game. It is a two-step bonus game, played for up to $10,000. The first step requires the contestant to solve as many initialed pictures, within 30 seconds, at $100 each. The second step requires the contestant to solve one related two-part initialed picture, within 10 seconds, for 10 times the amount earned. 5 right x final bonus = $500 x 10 = $5,000.