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PDQ


Producer: Heatter-Quigley
Host: Dennis James
Announcer: Kenny Williams
Celebrities: Stubby Kaye, Dick Patterson, Gisèle MacKenzie
Taping Info: 1965
Made it to Air: Yes, although this pilot may have been made for ABC prime time rather for its eventual destination, which was a four year syndication run from 1965-1969. It was revived for a year in 1973 under the name Baffle.
Availability: UCLA Archive, Trading Circuit, Shokus Video Game Show Collection #3

Heatter-Quigley was looking for their first big hit. They had The Celebrity Game, they had Video Village, but these weren't the biggest things on TV at the time. They decided to try the curious mix of isolation booths and a word game and came up with PDQ. Dennis James, just coming off a six month stint on the Heatter-Quigley show People Will Talk, was tabbed as host.

The game featured an odd mix of three celebrities and one contestant, with two of the celebrities on one team and the remaining celeb plus one civilian on the other time. The purpose of the game was to have one player guess a word or phrase from a portion of the letters, the make up of the letters determined by their teammate. The letter placer started out with three letters, and added a new letter approximately every eight seconds. Each team played the same phrase (the reason for the isolation booths), and the team that got the phrase in less letters used received the difference of the letters used between them and the other team. So, if Team A needed 4 letters but Team B needed 6, Team A received 2 points. After one team reached five points, the giver and receiver traded positions. Ten points won the game and $100 per point in the score margin.

The bonus game was a little bit word intuition and somewhat ESP, as the winning contestant tried to guess words from three letter clues for $50 per word. Whether or not your word would work was inconsequential, you had to come up with the word the writers wanted. No word on what would happen if the two celebrity team won, since on this pilot the celebrity-civilian team won.

Odd things in this pilot that should have been corrected before sending out for potential buyers. One of the letters broke, one of the boards was not cleared for play and time was spent waiting for it to clear, and Dennis James scored a round wrong, although he corrected himself coming out of the next commercial. Plus, the phrases were a little too hard for people who were not pros at the game yet.

Stubby Kaye and Dick Patterson were designated as "the home team", insinuating they would be regulars, while Gisèle MacKenzie was "the guest player". However, when the show made it to air, Kaye and Patterson were nowhere to be found while MacKenzie was on the first episode. The only reason this pilot sold at all was when the NBC owned-and-operated stations stepped in since they realized their affiliates needed non-network color programming.


The set of PDQ, complete with two spare mattresses.

OK Mother, this is Dennis James.

Gisèle MacKenzie, yuking it up in the isolation booth.

Stubby Kaye lays the letters.

The one contestant plays the bonus game.

A closeup of the letter G that has fallen apart on Dick Patterson.


This pilot has been viewed 7228 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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