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Big Spenders


Producer: Carruthers/Warner Brothers/NBC
Host: Jack Clark
Announcer: Joe Seiter
Taping Info: 1975, probably Los Angeles
Other Pilots: October 27, 1974, hosted by Pat Harrington
Made it to Air: No
Availability: UCLA Archive

Big Spenders was an auction based spending game hosted by Mr. Failed Pilot himself, Jack Clark. Three pairs of married couples played in this game in order to win prizes based on the betting skills of their spouse.

In the beginning, the players are staked with the total dollar amount of the prizes to be given on the show, which for this episode was $7,441. The husbands were then showed the first prize, which was a kitchen table plus 6 chairs. The husbands then locked in the price they believed the prize would cost. The wives than began an auction for the prize with Jack Clark giving an opening bid of $1,700. If a wife bid a price higher than what her husband had locked in, they lost their chance for the prize. If the wife hit the price exact, the couple won the prize.

One huge problem came very quickly lack of a bidding interval. The bids started at a decent clip $1,710, $1,725 but then degenerated to single digits, with the next 10 bids just covering $28. In this first prize, two of the couples lost when the wife exceeded their husbands bid, leaving the prize to the winning couple at a price of $1,757, well below the actual price of $1,825. At this point, the bid made by their husbands were deducted from the couples total was deducted from their opening stake, meaning that the couple with the winning bid had their bank docked the most ($1,875).

The game then was to continue with the spouses swapping roles (wives guessing and husbands auctioning) until a couple had won three prizes. The money stake then became important in the later rounds since the sum of the initial guesses could not exceed the stake given the players at the beginning. This wasn't a problem on this episode, since the couple who won the first prize also won a lovely green pants suit with a boa and a brass bed to win in just four tries, with one other couple winning a saw/workbench combo. Besides the prizes, they also won the money left in their stake ($2,338) and moved on to the bonus game.

The bonus game was the saving grace of this show in my opinion. The winning couple is presented with three groups of prizes with each group containing three prizes. For example, the trip group had a 14-day Vienna trip, a 10-day Japan trip and a 10-day Rome trip. The other two groups were jewelry and cars. The wife then picked one prize from each group, with the caveat that you could only win the prizes if the total price of the three selected was greater than $10,000. After the wife chose, the husband could make changes as he see fit.

In this particular show, Winnie the winning wife chose a 1.5 carat diamond, the 10 day Rome trip and a 2-door 1975 Buick Skyhawk. And Willie, the winning husband, chose to change the Skyhawk to a Buick Regal. This proved to be a winning move and final proof that the pilot was fixed, since Winnie's choices totaled only $9,976, while Willie's change broke the bank and upped the total to $10,498, making them a happy couple. And also a departing couple, since there are no repeat champions on Big Spenders.

I assume this game was made in reaction to the wild popularity of The Price is Right. However, like Art James' Temptation, being just a pricing game without any true sizzle doesn't make a good game. The bonus game had a little intrigue, but the main game was just tedious.

This pilot has been viewed 5244 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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