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Blank Check

Producer: Jack Barry Productions
Host: Art James
Announcer: Johnny Jacobs
Theme: "Chump Change" by Quincy Jones, but the actual series had a sound-alike composed by Alan Thicke (Is there anything he can't do? Yes, there are many things). Additionally, several The Joker's Wild prize cues are recycled here.
Taping Info: 1974, probably Los Angeles
Made it to Air: Yes. It replaced Name That Tune on January 6, 1975 and aired for the last time on July 4, 1975, being replaced by The Magnificent Marble Machine. Don't weep for Art James, however, since he hosted both Blank Check and Marble Machine.
Availability: The pilot is available on the trading circuit. You can also see the six images below set (without attribution, of course) set to the actual theme with this YouTube Link

Art James is a good game show host. A very good host. Unfortunately, except for The Who, What and Where Game, he has been saddled with clunkers such as Super Pay Cards! and the 60's Temptation. Blank Check is no exception, as he has to host a game that seems interesting for about ten minutes. Also appearing on this episode is pilot mainstay Jack Campion, who you may remember from such other game show pilots as Second Chance, Press Your Luck, Card Sharks and Jeopardy!.

The game involves six contestants, one of which is designated as the "check writer" while the other five are designated as "the other five." The check writer presses a button to select five digits that may become part of a check. He or she then selects one of those five digits, followed by Art asking a riddle where one word would link two items together, such as "what word matches both a citrus fruit and a bad car." The player who buzzes in correctly tries to guess which of the five digits the check writer chose. If they don't match, the check writer has the digit placed in the ones column of the check. This continues through the tens, hundreds and thousands unless the check writer and the contestant match, at which time the check writer gets the money up to but not including the current digit and swaps places with the contestant and a new check is started. This continues ad nauseum until someone completes a check with four digits.

When this happens, the studio audience is awakened and up to four of them will go on to play for prizes while the winning check writer goes on to play for both the prizes and a possibility of a car. The first audience member comes to a podium and is presented with cards for two prizes, such as a TV and a dishwasher. The audience member selects one, and the winning check writer tries to guess which one he or she chose. If the check writer guesses correctly, he or she gets the prize, otherwise the audience member gets the prize. This happens four times, and if the check writer gets three of the four correct, he or she wins a car as well.

When this show inexplicably made it to air in 1975, the game changed slightly after a digit was placed in the hundreds place. The final digit was played against an audience member. If the check writer guessed correctly, he or she got the check. If the audience member guessed correctly, he or she won a prize. On the regular show, contestants stayed the entire week and the player who amassed the most money during the week got a bonus prize as well.

This game pretty much mirrored Art James' Temptation in that this was an interesting idea for a few minutes, but it would quickly become tedious. The main game would make an interesting bonus game to some other game, but it was lacking as a main game. Art wasn't unemployed long, he went over to host The Magnificent Marble Machine the following Monday after the cancellation of Blank Check, and stayed there for another year before he drifted away from network daytime television, although he did appear as an announcer on several other shows.

Hi Bob! (Hes the checkwriter)

Hi everybody else! (Theyre not the checkwriter, yet...)

And heres your host, Art James.

Oh what lucky numbers will be available for this check? Mostly the ones below 5.

Someone from the audience will need to be plucked out of dreamland to play against the check writer.

Look, its pilot mainstay Jack Campion, about to not win money and prizes against the audience. Hell be happy with AFTRA scale.

This pilot has been viewed 10754 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
Feedback? Contact me at usgs-pilot at the usgameshows dot net domain