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Spellbinders


Producer: Goodson-Todman
Host: Bill Anderson
Announcer: Gene Wood
Celebrities: Debralee Scott, Charles Nelson Reilly
Taping Info: August 16, 1978
Other Pilots: I have a scan of a ticket for Spellbinders, but it lists the date as August 14 and that one of the celebrities is listed as Patty Duke-Astin. It is not known whether Debralee Scott was being used as a replacement for Patty Duke-Astin or they did two pilots on separate days.
Made it to Air: No

NBC and Goodson-Todman finally kissed and made up and the result was 1978's Card Sharks. Since the road was paved for more product, more pilots ensued including this one. "Whispering" Bill Anderson, fresh off the gig on The Better Sex, gets to host while appearing as celebrities are Charles "Chuckie" Nelson Reilly and Debralee Scott. Making this show a little creepy was the funkiest version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" ever committed to electronic media.

The main game was played in alternating stages. The odd stages were called "Free for All" and featured a clue plus the first letter of the answer, with additional letters in order if nobody buzzed in. Any player could buzz in when they thought they knew the answer. If the player who buzzed in was incorrect, the similar player on the other team (if a celebrity buzzed in, the other celebrity participated) would be given an additional letter and this would volley back and forth until a player answered correctly.

Once a team got three words, they moved on to the unnamed semi-bonus round. In this round, one of the players went into an isolation booth while the other player tried to come up with three words that fit a category, such as "things you lick." The isolation player was then brought out, and was given letters one at a time until one of three words was guessed or a fifth letter was given. If less than five letters were given, they could try for the other two. Each word is worth $50. On the fifth letter, the other team could gamble on whether the winning team could use that fifth word successfully. If the gamble worked, the gambling team got $50. Otherwise, the winning team got an extra $50.

After the unnamed semi-bonus round, another "Free for All"/unnamed semi-bonus round sequence was played, this time for $100 per word. If a team crossed $500 after the second sequence, they won the game and moved on to the "Lucky 7" round for a chance for $5,000 (or more, since the jackpot would increase $1,000 for each time not won). It is not known what a third sequence's values would be, since this pilot saw a team win in two sequences.

The "Lucky 7" round started with both celebrities on stage and the winner off stage. The celebrities each gave one response to a Family Feud style question such as "name a card game". They then alternated asking the audience for additional answers until they got seven. At that point, the contestant came back on stage. The player then had 60 seconds to try to guess the seven responses, one at a time. The player was shown the first letter to the first one, and was shown additional letters when requested up until there were two letters remaining. A maximum of one letter could be asked for per second. If the player won, he or she got $5,000, plus the audience members who helped out got $100 each. If the player didn't get all 7, he or she got $100 per and the audience got nada.

Overall, not a bad game. Charles Nelson Reilly was an absolute riot. Bill Anderson was a good host. Debralee Scott was a very enthusiastic player. I have no clue why this one didn't sell. Too bad, because Bill could really use the money right now, he has the worst hair plugs I have ever seen.

A Pilot Light Bonus:
A photo of the set and a picture of Bill Anderson's awful hair plugs (towards the bottom). This is from one of the creators of the show, Steve Ryan. Please note that the picture here is somewhat washed out, the backdrop and the neon was a medium blue while the large ovals and set carpet was green.


A ticket for either I pilot I haven't seen or was never shot.



This pilot has been viewed 4752 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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