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The Finish Line (1975)


Producer: Bob Stewart
Host: Alan Kalter
Announcer: Bob Clayton
Celebrities: Anita Gillete, Nipsey Russell
Taping Info: October 27, 1975, Studio 41, CBS, New York City
Made it to Air: No
Other Pilots: There was actually two pilots shot that day, this is the second. The first pilot was shot with all civilian contestants. There was also a pilot with the title The Finish Line by Bob Stewart and hosted by Lynn Swann that was shot in 1990, but the formats bear no resemblance to each other.
Availability: UCLA Archive

It's a post-Pyramid Bob Stewart pilot, so it must be some derivative of Pyramid. And you would be right, as The Finish Line combines the elements of Pyramid with another failed Stewart pilot The $10,000 Sweep. The pilot also is a rare opportunity for voice-over talent extraordinaire Alan Kalter to step in front of the camera to be the host.

The main game starts out in the usual celebrity-contestant pairing, with this pilot having Anita Gillete on one side and Nipsey Russell on the other. The object is to get your partner to answer the partial clue you see that would fit the verbal clue given by the host. In one example, Alan Kalter read the statement "Name a guy she lives with" and the clue given to Anita Gillete on the screen was S N _ _ W H _ _ _. Anita would say something like "bashful" and hopefully her partner would say "Snow White." A correct guess was worth 25 points, while a miss gave 25 points to the other team. 150 points won the game (why couldn't this just be 1 point and first to 6?)

You've won, it's now time to play the terribly flawed bonus game. Come sit at this winner's circle tilted 90 degrees with a big post in the middle. Out of the post will come letters than make up a five letter word. The celebrity will come up with a question whose answer will start with that letter, the contestant must guess the answer. Once he or she does that, the letter is placed on the big board. Once you get all five letters on the big board, you then have to unscramble the word. You get $100 per correct letter and $2,500 if you can successfully unscramble the word within the allotted 60 seconds.

You could also win $10,000 (and retire from the game) if you guess the first five words and unscramble. The flaw is, letters are repeated just as time killers. For example, if the word was "FRAME" the F may come up twice before the M does. So, the only possible way to win the $10,000 would be to not get a pattern that had a repeat in its five. Although this happened on the pilot, why should your chance of winning the real big dough be left to utter chance?

The game moves relatively quick, three main/bonus combos were played in this pilot alone. However, to improve the bonus game, I would make it six letters in 60 seconds with no repeats. Six letter anagrams are harder than five letter ones, and you would definitely have the shout at the TV factor go through the roof.


This pilot has been viewed 7383 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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