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The Finish Line (1990)


Producer: Bob Stewart
Host: Lynn Swann
Announcer: Johnny Gilbert
Celebrities: Betty White and Brian Stokes Mitchell
Taping Info: May 9, 1990, ABC Television Center Stage 59, Hollywood
Made it to Air: Nope
Other Pilots: There was a pilot with the title The Finish Line by Bob Stewart and hosted by Alan Kalter that was shot in 1975, but the formats bear no resemblance to each other.
Availability: UCLA Archive

In one of the last efforts from Bob Stewart, The Finish Line is a rhyme completion game involving, you guessed it, a contestant and a celebrity. Hosted by Lynn Swann, this failed pilot may have helped him get the emergency gig on To Tell the Truth when Gordon Elliott had to leave. The celebrities on this pilot were Betty White and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

In the main game, one partner was given three lines of a poem and had to come up with a fourth line. His or her partner, on hearing the completed poem, had to guess the subject of the poem. For example, Betty White would see "When this blonde is singing, she fills a man with lust. She's got a great big voice."; and she would fill in the fourth line herself "But you should see her bust." If the partner guessed correctly, he or she would be awarded a point. Each team received 1 point for each correct rhyme within 60 seconds, and each partner gave and received once. In this particular instance, Betty's team won 12-10 and the contestant received $600, or $50 per point.

The bonus game, called "Poetry in Motion", had one of the neatest boards I've ever seen. There were six boxes marked 1 through 6 vertically on the left. In each of these boxes was a word that had to be the last line of a four-line poem. The giver received the first two lines and had to make up the final two lines except for the last word (that's the word you don't say!) The receiver then had to say the final word to win the box. While the sixty seconds were going, all unguessed boxes moved on the board slowly from left to right, so that if any box hit the right part of the screen, the bonus game was over. Betty White was in both bonus games, gave on the first for a $5,000 win, and received on the second for a $500 loss, getting 5 of the 6 final words.

I liked the show a lot, although the biggest problem you would have would be coming up with fresh poems. This show featured nearly 60 of them, and it was hinted at some point that it was a daily show, so trying to come up with 300 fresh poems would be quite taxing. Lynn Swan did a good job, and the set looked pretty good.

This pilot has been viewed 3784 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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