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Hot Numbers

Producer: Merrill Heatter/Telepictures
Host: Peter Marshall
Announcer: Charlie O'Donnell
Celebrities: Harvey Korman, Priscilla Barnes, Dick Butkus
Taping Info: September 28, 1984 at NBC Studio 2, Burbank
Made it to Air: Eventually, after some reformatting, as All Star Blitz on the ABC schedule on April 8, 1985, replacing Trivia Trap. It lasted until the end of the year, where it was replaced by The New Love, American Style.

After the decline of Hollywood Squares, Heatter-Quigley kept on trying to tweak the Squares format into a different show. The first attempt was Battlestars, which knocked three celebrities out and changed the game from Tic-Tac-Toe to Dots. Their next effort, Hot Numbers, knocked out three more celebrities, but kept Dots. Peter Marshall was brought back into the Heatter fold as host.

The main game involved two players, three celebrities and a 3x4 grid. Each of the intersections on the grid had a number for a total of twelve possible. The game was then seeded with the lines connecting two numbers being filled in until one box was completed. At this point, the box was in play. A celebrity would be asked a question with two possible answers. At this point, the contestant would either agree or disagree with the celebrity, and if the contestant was correct, they would claim the box (complete with an over-sized head shot of the contestant inside the box) and kept control. If the contestant was wrong, the other player claimed the box and got control.

After the first box was claimed, players then alternated picking line segments until they were able to complete a box, at which the next celebrity would be asked a question (the celebrities rotated answering the questions throughout the game). Once a player claimed three boxes, they then tried to complete the "Hot Area". In the Hot Area, there were no line segments or boxes complete, it was simply answering questions, lighting up one letter in the word "HOT" per correct answer and earning $250 per letter. The player who answered correctly on the "T" won the game and moved onto the bonus. It's important to note here that the Hot Area was common to both players. One player could answer the "H" and the "O", but the other player could get the "T" and win the game.

The bonus game was a little complicated and could be tedious. The player would pick one box to be the box they don't want to complete. Behind the other five boxes would be low four-figure prizes such as a trip or a piano. Line segments would then randomly be filled in, with a completion of a box giving the player the designated box. However, completing the box chosen by the player caused him or her to lose everything. The player could stop at any time. Only four of the five prizes could be won, since the fifth prize would also mean the completion of the chosen box, but you won a car as a bonus for almost completing the grid. Confused yet?

The show consisted of two games, of which the winning contestant for both games was future Supermarket Sweep announcer Randy West, complete with the classic 80s perm (hey, I had one, too). Randy has admitted in a Usenet post (external link) that he was coached so he would win the game. And as a courtesy, I would not recommend typing in "Hot Numbers" and "Randy West" into Google, even for research purposes.

When this show made it to air, the "Hot Zone" was removed, contestant head shots mercifully chucked in the trash and instead a word puzzle was partially revealed for the players to guess. The bonus game was also streamlined to remove the lose-the-prizes element and simply became trying to guess a word puzzle given 2/3ds of it. Despite those improvements, they took out the the generic music and added probably the worst game show theme ever, complete with baffling scat lyrics. Also, with the involvement of Telepictures, this may have been for syndication rather than daytime, its eventual home.

This pilot has been viewed 10411 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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