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Beat the Odds (1975)


Producer: Bill Carruthers/ABC
Host: Chuck Henry
Judge: Dr. Robert Stockwell
Taping Info: 1975
Made it to Air: This particular pilot did not make the air, but this aired as a local show on KTLA in Los Angeles in the early 1960's with Warren Hull and a one year syndicated effort with Johnny Gilbert in 1968.
Other Pilots: An episode of the KTLA run was used as an attempt to get national distribution in the 1960s.
Availability: Trading circuit

The concept that would not die (at least until 1975), Beat the Odds, a third-generation revival of a word game, was taped in 1975 by young Los Angeles news reporter Chuck Henry. Like its predecessors, the object was to come up with words of various starting letters, terminating letters and lengths as determined by a spin on the board.

However, unlike previous versions, you did not keep playing until you either froze or hit a whammy. Every word combination was tossup, and the point value was determine by the previous player called for (either $100, $200, $300 or $400, but the player could not ask for an amount higher than their current total). A player could also freeze once, which set a base score the player would return to if they hit a whammy (rather than zero). Reaching $1,000 won a game, while winning two games won the match and moved you on to the bonus game.

The bonus game involved a player trying to guess 10 five letter words within 60 seconds based on a beginning letter, a terminating letter and a clue given by Chuck. Standard 70's scoring of $100 per word and $5,000 for all 10 applied.

Chuck seemed fine as a host, very smooth for a first time effort. However, the constant buzz-in way of playing rather than holding your turn seemed to penalize the better player, since they would be spinning to determine the word parameters more than 50% of the time, meaning their chance for a whammy was greater. Plus, the whammy was just a boring lightning bolt instead of the wacky cartoon character. Because of these, it cannot rate as high as the 60's pilot.


It's the ransom note logo and busy set of Beat the Odds

Here's Chuck Henry, who would later grow up to be Kent Brockman

An S, N and 5 have been selected. Can either player come up with salvation by getting a sensational word and sharpen their score to earn money for a trip to Saskatoon or will they receive a sanction for an illegal word and feel sullen

Doralyn hits a whammy

Each player has won a $1,000 game, so indicated by their lovely trophies

The disembodied head plays the bonus game


This pilot has been viewed 157 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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