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Countdown


Producer: Jack Barry Productions/CBS
Host: Johnny Mann
Announcer: Johnny Jacobs
Taping Info: April 12, 1974, CBS Television Studio 33, Los Angeles
Made it to Air: No
Availability: UCLA Archive

An intriguing mix of Name That Tune and High Rollers, Countdown is a musical based game out of the all-of-a-sudden fertile production company that was Jack Barry Productions. The host of the show was a newcomer to game shows but not a newcomer to the music industry Johnny Mann, who in this pilot definitely was no stranger to enthusiasm. You may know Johnny Mann as the voice of Theodore the Chipmunk, his patriotic work or his short lived television series. If you've ever seen the SCTV skit 5 Neat Guys, it was somewhat a parody of the Johnny Mann Singers.

Each of the three players in this game appeared on a podium with nine digits. The podium-less Johnny Mann would introduce a song clip, and then give a question that would either be to identify the sound clip or answer a question based on the sound clip. If a player answered the question correctly, two sets of 7 big flashing lights appeared next to Johnny Mann, and the player's buzzer stopped the lights. Based on the sum of the lights that are lit, the player can remove any combination of his or her numbers that match the total (a la High Rollers) with a maximum of two digits removable. Unlike High Rollers, your remaining digits are summed together and represents your score. Rolling a sum of 7 counted as a wild and allowed you to remove any two numbers.

With your score, you are trying to become the closest to zero without going bust. As long as nobody has declared "freeze", a bust does not knock you out of the game, you simply lose your turn. However, as soon as a player freezes, a bust by either of the other two players knocks them out. In the first game, a player froze at 5 when she had a 1 and a 4 left. However, a second player with a lucky roll of 7 was able to knock his score down to 1, forcing the third player to clean out perfectly, which he failed to do. A tie in score always went to the player who got to the score first.

The bonus game was pretty much like Golden Medley from Name That Tune. In this version, you had to get 9 songs in 60 seconds. However, unlike Name That Tune where you were required to get the seven songs they gave, on Countdown a pass gave you a different song. Winning the "Winner's Circle" (that's what it was called) got you your typical Jack Barry-collection of prizes and little money to pay the taxes on them. The player also returned to take on two new challengers.

I really liked this show. I don't know if this was meant as a possible replacement for a currently airing show or was meant to be around when a show finally failed. The only change CBS made in 1974 was replacing The $10,000 Pyramid with Now You See It, so I'm assuming the latter. CBS would eventually take a musical game in 1975, but it was the Adam Wade-hosted Musical Chairs. Also, if you ever see it, the credits resemble an acid trip, or at least what I'm told an acid trip would be like.

This pilot has been viewed 4746 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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