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Hot Potato


Producer: Barry-Enright
Host: Bill Cullen
Announcer: Charlie O'Donnell
Taping Info: December 1, 1983
Made it to Air: Yes, it got the lovely NBC-noon death slot on January 23, 1984, replacing Go. It made in until June 29, 1984, after which it was replaced by reruns of Diff'rent Strokes.

I've reviewed so many Bob Stewart things-in-a-list and recycle-other-pilot games that it's only fair if I point out when somebody else goes the same route. The last pilot produced by Barry-Enright as an entity, Hot Potato, does this by combining a things-in-a-list main game with a reworking of the earlier pilot Decisions, Decisions for the bonus game. Bill Cullen is your host, and orange is your dominant color.

The familiar smoking sign appears in the beginning, as well as the introduction of two teams that are occupationally aligned. For this pilot, one team is made of Franciscan priests, while the other team is made up of teachers. The main game plays exactly like the eventual series. There are seven items in a list that are in play, for example, the seven nations of the Warsaw Pact. One team is given control of the question, with one member of the team choosing to play or challenge. If they choose play and are correct, play passes on to the next player on the team. If they are incorrect, they are knocked out of the question and play passes the other team. If you choose to challenge, you select one player from the other team to give a response. However, if that other player is successful, the challenger is knocked out. Play continues until either one team comes up with the seventh correct answer or a team has no more players remaining, at which point the other team is considered the winner of the question.

Each question is worth $500, with a game win at $1,000. After $1,000, the winning team moves to the bonus game, which was a little different than the aired show. For the entire bonus, one category was in play, such as "which of the following foods has more calories per ounce." In the first part of the bonus, each player was asked individually one question in that category. For each correct answer (up to three), $200 in "stake money" was awarded. At that point, play became double-or-nothing on the stake money with a maximum of five more questions. At this point, the teammates could confer on their answers. A $9,600 payday was possible with a perfect score. Unlike the aired show, there were no passes.

The only other difference was the music cues and theme were not the synthesized Hal Hidey package. Otherwise, the game was there, which was an interesting concept, but probably was a bit too complicated and could drag. Also, none of the three questions asked were survey type questions, they were all fact-based lists. It is unknown whether the survey questions were meant to be part of the question mix all along or that was added via network suggestion. After thirteen weeks on the air, the show took away four contestants and added four celebrities and limped along for nine weeks before it faded away from first-run television. However, because of ubiquitous reruns on three different cable channels, each episode has been rerun at least eight times.

This pilot has been viewed 9716 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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