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The Better Sex

Producer: Goodson-Todman
Host: Bill Anderson and Sarah Purcell
Announcer: Gene Wood
Taping Info: Probably 1977 in Los Angeles
Made it to Air: It joined the ABC lineup on July 18, 1977, replacing Second Chance and losing its slot on January 13, 1978 so two soaps could expand from 45 minutes to an hour.
Availability: It's available on the trading circuit.

For the usually conservative Mark Goodson, this pilot certainly took some risks. It had two hosts, one male and one female, and both had never hosted a game show before. Bill Anderson was an unknown pretty much outside the country music world, and Sarah Purcell was a local Los Angeles television personality. Also, the show featured 14 contestants and 70 from the home audience. It's a combination guaranteed to make you say, The Better Sex?

The show begins with a bizarre introduction with the two hosts staging a mock argument followed by all 14 contestants (7 for each gender) running on stage. The men played against the women, with the correctly-gendered host acting as the advocate for the team. The object is to "knock out" members of the opposing team by bluffing them on general knowledge or survey questions.

The men started and one of the seven men was asked a general knowledge question. The man was handed a card with the correct answer, and chose either to give the correct answer or a bluff answer. The other team was then polled on whether they agreed or disagreed with the player until a quorum was reached. If the members of the quorum were correct, they stayed in the game and knocked out the answer man. If they were incorrect, they themselves were knocked out. This continued back-and-forth until one team had all seven of their players knocked out.

The winning team then got to play one of the more innovative bonus rounds ever devised. 70 members of the studio audience were chosen and were given some sort of demented ping pong paddle with a green and red light. One player of the winning team was given the answer to a question and could either give the correct answer or a bluff like the main game. The paddle holders voted, with the correct holders staying up and the incorrect holders forced to sit down and earning $10 per loser for the team. If the team could successfully get all 70 members to sit down, it was worth $7,000 to the team. If anybody remained standing after each team member asked a question, they split $500.

Once The Better Sex made it to air, the format of the game stayed the same but the rules were overhauled. The number of players on a team was cut from seven to six. Instead of a quorum, players on a team were asked to agree or disagree until two did so. If the question giver was knocked out, another player on the team was knocked out as well. This considerably sped up the main game, which in my opinion was very slow. The bonus game involved 30 studio audience members rather than 70. The fingernails-on-a-blackboard theme remained.

I was enthralled with the paddles watching the game as a seven-year-old, and I still like the paddles today. If this were ever tried to be brought back, I would try to make this the main game and devise some other bonus game. It didn't dawn on me until I started the write-up on this that the general concept of game play was resurrected just a year later with Mindreaders. Of the two gender-derived guessing games, this was the better game.

The age-old question will finally now be answered in a 30 minute game show.

Here's your hosts, Bill Anderson and Sarah Purcell.

Sarah gets the answers from her team.

They're not announcing their intentions to really play for the other team, instead, they've been knocked out.

This isn't Scanners. Its just the 70 audience members trying to win a little cash.

On the first question, 43 agreed while 26 disagreed. The 70th person voted for Pat Buchanan.

This pilot has been viewed 10691 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
Feedback? Contact me at usgs-pilot at the usgameshows dot net domain