This is my salute the the Prime Time Access Rule of the 1970s.
What is the Prime Time Access Rule?
Until the fall of 1971, network programming from ABC, CBS and NBC started at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) time. The FCC then ordered the three networks to give back a half-hour of air time per day to local affiliates, known as the PrimeTime Access Rule. As a result, beginning that fall network programming was pushed back to an 8 p.m. start. It was hoped that the affiliates would have more time to produce their own programming - in fact, stations in the most populated areas were even forbidden to use sitcom reruns during this time slot for the first couple of years.
Producers used this new rule to their advantage, and offered stations first-run programming for those slots (usually 7-8 p.m. Eastern). Most of the shows they offered were intended for once-a-week broadcast, so a different show was seen every night resulting in kind of a checkerboard-type schedule. Although some series like The Muppet Show and Wild Kingdom were widely seen, most of these slots were used for game shows - in many cases nighttime versions of games already seen in the daytime.
The following is a list of all the game shows that were seen during these (usually) once-a-week time slots between the falls of 1971 and 1980 (when most stations returned to "strip" - or five-days-a-week programming). These shows may or may not have been aired in every area - or may have even aired at different times of the day, or even on weekend afternoons in some areas (all the shows were seen in my area except where noted). Also, because these were the days before satellite transmission was common, most of these shows were "bicycled" around - meaning different episodes aired in different cities during the same week, instead of the same episode in every city that we see today.
Celebrity Bowling (1971-78)
Jed Allan hosted this show whose title says it all. Two teams of two celebrities played one game of bowling. Only the first couple of years were seen in my area, but the show had a surprisingly long run. Several game show hosts, such as Tom Kennedy and Richard Dawson participated. All episodes exist and it's currently being run by ESPN Classic.
Let's Make a Deal (1971-77)
The nighttime version of this still-popular daytime game. Bigger prizes were awarded and I even remember one show where host Monty Hall gave a player who got zonked a chance at the Big Deal of the Day (almost unheard of). The "Super Deal" was added for one season in 1975-76 that gave players a chance at an additional $20,000. Celebrities also played for home viewers that year, but reportedly it did nothing for the ratings. The show moved to Las Vegas for its last season. Has been rerun on the Family Channel and GSN.
Having debuted on NBC in 1966, this show was the No. 1 daytime game show by the early '70s. The syndicated version started as a once-a-week outing in November 1971, and soon after that was seen twice-a-week in most cities. Expanded to five-nights-a-week in the fall of 1980, continuing on for one year after the daytime NBC version left the air. Much to the surprise of many people, GSN actually ran this version for a couple of years after hundreds of episodes were found. Previously it was thought most of the run was destroyed. Included in the GSN package were some episodes from the 1968 primetime version and the '70s syndicated version. It's unconfirmed whether the daytime episodes still exist.
Chuck Barris' first attempt at a serious game show, this show questioned prospective parents' on hypethetical situations with their children. Prizes sometimes included new cars for the winners. All 24 episodes have been rerun on GSN.
I've Got a Secret(1972-73)
A popular show on CBS from 1952-67, Goodson-Todman brought this back for once-a-week syndication in 1972. Steve Allen continued as host (having hosted the last couple of years of the CBS version) and Richard Dawson was a regular panelist. Has been rerun on GSN.
Price is Right (1972-80)
A week after reviving this show for CBS daytime, it debuted in syndication with Dennis James as host. Much bigger prizes were offered on this version, including expensive fur coats and luxury cars. Bob Barker took over hosting duties in the fall of 1977 and did double-duty with this and the daytime version until the end in 1980. Although most episodes are thought to exist, because of the furs given away on this version and Bob Barker's stance against them, we may never see this again. A few episodes exist on the trading circuit.
New Dating Game (1973-74)
After the popular ABC daytime version of this show left the air in July 1973, Chuck Barris sold this once-weekly version into syndication. Basically the same as the ABC version, except some new music cues were added - the same ones Barris would use on virtually every show for the next 10 years. This was not seen in my area, but I did see eps. of it during syndicated reruns in 1985. GSN has it and has aired several episodes of it.
Sale of the Century(1973-74)
Towards the end of its original NBC run, the format was changed to include two couples (rather than three contestants) playing against one another. This was also the format for the syndicated version, which continued on for one year after the NBC version left the air. Joe Garagiola was the host. This was not seen in my area, but I remember the daytime version, and did see one ep. of this version on a trip to Florida in 1973 (when I was very young). No episodes of this version are currently known to exist.
New Treasure Hunt(1973-77)
Jan Murray hosted the original version of this show in the '50s. Chuck Barris bought the rights to it and remade it. Geoff Edwards was the host and was perfect for the job. Whether the contestant was "klunked", or won a big prize, you'd never know until the end. Seen Saturday nights in my area. The show came back in 1981 for a "strip" (daily) run, but the '70s version was much better (at least to me!). GSN has this, but can't currently air it apparantly because of a problem with music clearances. Would love to see this again!
This show started on CBS in March 1973 as The $10,000 Pyramid. Dick Clark hosted, and stayed with the show when it moved to ABC in May 1974. It was popular enough to spin off this once-weekly syndicated nighttime version, with Bill Cullen as host. Debuting in Sept. 1974, it gave any contestant who won two games in one show a shot at $25,000 (more than double the daytime version - which was still at $10,000 when this debuted). Dick Clark even played the nighttime version twice during the second season, and helped his contestant to the top prize both times. Only the first two seasons were seen in my area. Apparantly all 150 of these episodes still exist, but are owned by the syndication company and not Bob Stewart - that's why they won't appear on GSN.
Celebrity Sweepstakes (1974-75 and 1976-77)
One of my favorite daytime game shows, I watched the NBC version of this in the summer and whenever I was home from school. The audience bet, and placed "odds" on the chances of one of six celebrities answering a question correctly. Contestants then bet on a celebrity based on those odds, which determined how much money they'd win if the celebrity was correct. Unfortunatly, neither version of the nighttime show was seen in my area. We might never see this one again either. Although it's recently been stated that this show could still exist, only the pilot, final NBC episode and one additional clip are in the trade curcuit. NBC's tape wipeout in the late '70s could have claimed this show. Anyone out there have any additional episodes?
This nighttime version of the original series - hosted by Art Fleming - gave top winners a chance to come back at season's end to increase their winnings. Basically the same as the daytime version except some extra lights were added to the set. The NBC version was cancelled on Jan. 3, 1975, but this version stayed in syndication until the end of the season (probably all reruns after March 1975). GSN may or may not have a few episodes of this. They surprisingly ran the 2000th daytime episode with Mel Brooks a few years ago, and anything that does exist of this they'd have the rights to.
Richard Dawson hosted this game where celebrities disguised themselves, and a panel had to try to guess their identidy. Bill Bixby, Lee Meriwhether and Nipsey Russell were the regular panelists. An episode of this recently turned up.
Name That Tune (1974-81)
NBC revived this show in July 1974 for its daytime schedule with Dennis James as host. It was cancelled by January 1975. The nighttime syndicated version premiered in Sept. 1974 and featured Tom Kennedy as host. It became a big hit, lasting until 1981. I especially liked the games where contestants ran 20 feet to ring a bell, and even the vocalized theme song (another rarity) that was dropped after the first season. In 1976, the show changed to "$100,000 Name That Tune". In early 1977, NBC brought the show back to daytime and offered a top prize of $25,000. The daytime show was cancelled by that summer, but the nighttime version continued. They were hoping for another renewal in the fall of 1981, but because of the changing syndicated marketplace, not enough stations were interested in those once-weekly shows by the early '80s. One memorable moment came when the security guard forget the combination of the safe containing the $100,000! I used to watch it Friday nights in my area, but hardly saw either of the two daytime NBC versions because of school. It was switched to Wednesday nights in my area in 1976. In 1984 it came back again for daily syndication, with Jim Lange as host.
Diamond Head Game(1975)
Fresh off the cancellation of the daytime Newlywed Game, host Bob Eubanks flew to Hawaii for this game named after the famous volcano. Some interesting elements to this game - especially the bonus round - but generally referred to as a bad game. Never seen in my area, but I did watch some of the GSN repeats.
Don Adams Screen Test(1975-76)
Considered a game show, this show actually featured two potential actors who re-created famous movie scenes with celebrity guests. The winner at the end of the show actually got a bit part in a series (like MASH, for example) or an upcoming movie. A great show with a lot of laughs - I was hoping it would have lasted longer than just the one season! The hour-long pilot is available in the trading circuit.
The NBC daytime version premiered July 1, 1974, and was still going strong when this version debuted in the fall of 1975. Alex Trebek hosted, and Elaine Stewart (rather than daytime's Ruta Lee) was the dice-roller. The daytime version was cancelled in the summer of 1976 and the nighttime version followed soon after. It came back on NBC daytime in 1978, but very few episodes - if any - of the original are reported to exist. Despite lasting two additional years in daytime, another syndicated version was never planned. The show did come back one more time, in the fall of 1987 with Wink Martindale as host. That version still exists.
Match Game PM(1975-81)
After debuting on the CBS daytime schedule on July 2, 1973, this show shot to the No. 1 daytime slot by early 1974, and was a natural for a nighttime spin-off. Gene Rayburn was excited when he first promoted it as a panelist on Tattletales in the summer of 1975, and it got good enough ratings for a six-year run. Basically the same as the daytime CBS version, except the contestants played three rounds and had a chance to win up to $20,000 in the Super Match. It probably could have lasted longer, but by the end of the run the daytime version was syndicated and - in some cities - competing with this verison. The whole series has been repeated several times on GSN.
Chuck Barris hosted the daytime version of this show which premiered in June 1976. It did very well in the ratings, and this once-weekly nighttime version followed that fall. Gary Owens hosted the first season, and Chuck took over for the rest of the run. The show was a little wilder than the daytime version - and had a slightly bigger prize (I remember an episode where it was an even $1000 - but that might have been the nighttime pilot). Most of the time it was $716.32 ($200 more than the daytime version). GSN has this, but chose only to run the NBC daytime version when it was on their regular schedule a few years back. Also, reportedly because of music clearances, at least half the shows can't be aired again.
This show oddly enough had two Canadian hosts in its two years on the air. Mike Darrow hosted the first season - taped in New York - and Alex Trebek took over for the second - taped in Toronto. This was a remake of the '50s $64,000 Question which was a huge hit. One of the reasons this new version failed to make it was that it was taped in advance - somewhat missing the drama of going live in primetime with all the money at stake as was the case in the '50s. Several episodes of this are available for trade.
Break the Bank(1976-77)
A personal favorite of mine that should have had a longer run. This show featured nine celebrities sitting around a huge game board. Contestants had to match three of the same dollar figures to win, or three "money bags" to break the bank. The ABC daytime version with Tom Kennedy debuted to high ratings in April 1976, but was forced off the air in 15 weeks due to then-ABC president Fred Silverman's preferance for longer soap operas. The show was syndicated that fall with Jack Barry as host, and offered slightly higher prizes than the daytime version, and also added a bonus round. I personally found the Barry version to be a bit better and really looked forward to watching it every Friday night. Unfortunatly, it didn't come back for a second season because Jack Barry was more in favor of reviving The Joker's Wild, which he also hosted. It was also noted that Jack didn't always look to comfortable working with celebrity guests. Game show hosts Bill Cullen and Bob Barker were among the celebrities who appeared on the nighttime version. GSN has played a couple of Cullen eps. and one Barker ep. This is one show I'd really like to see GSN return to the schedule. Please...!
A hit on the CBS daytime schedule after debuting in early 1974, this show was spun off into a nighttime version in the fall of 1977. This was never seen in my area so I have no idea if there were any differences between this and the daytime version (anyone out there care to comment?). Bob Newhart and his wife were frequent quests, but because Newhart (or possibly his wife) hasn't given permission for past game show eps. to air, we may not see this version. Still, GSN should have *some* episodes of this that they can air.
All-Star Anything Goes (1977-78)
The show that wouldn't die. It started during the summer of 1975 as an ABC hour-long five-week competition. It returned as a mid-season replacement in January 1976. It then moved to Saturday mornings in September 1976, called Junior Almost Anything Goes with kids playing. After one season, it was then syndicated with stars from various shows featured - one episode had stars of The Brady Bunch against stars of Gilligan's Island. It was somewhat reminiscent of Beat the Clock with contestants performing wild stunts in a certain time limit. I used to watch this Tuesday nights, and I loved the theme song - one of the few to use vocals. No episodes are known to exist, but if you've got one, please e-mail me!
Truth or Consequences(1977-78)
Bob Hilton presided over this update of the long-running Bob Barker version of the show, which ended in 1974. Not much was memorable about this version, except its use of the old Money Maze theme for a prize cue during the aired pilot. An episode featuring Lassie recently hit the trade curcuit.
The show that replaced Match Game as the No. 1 daytime show - it was so popular that it was partially to blame for the demise of the "checkerboard" schedule. It debuted on the ABC daytime schedule in July 1976. It went nighttime once weekly in the fall of 1977, offering $10,000 as top prize instead of $5000 on the daytime version. By early 1979 was expanded to twice a week. In the fall of 1980, it moved to five-nights-a-week where it remained until it left the air in 1985. Host Richard Dawson started out very friendly in the beginning, but his ego got way out of control towards the show's final years. Sometimes he became testy and rude with contestants or even members of the crew. This has been widely reported, and even talked about in a TVGuide article from January 1984. Reruns can be seen everyday on GSN.
$1.98 Beauty Show(1978-80)
Another Chuck Barris show that made fun of beauty contests. Six women of all shapes and sizes were paraded before a group of three celebrities (who really did nothing the whole show) and the winner got $1.98. GSN has this, and has played selected eps. from both seasons.
Dick Martin hosted this show that made fun of game shows. The prizes were determined by a rat that ran around his cage - whatever prize he stopped on was what the contestants got to keep. It was never seen in my area, although I wasn't really impressed with the one ep. I got from a trade.
Joker Joker Joker(1979-81)
Jack Barry hosted this children's version of The Joker's Wild, which in some cities (including my area), competed with Joker. Jack certainly enjoyed working with the kids, and some very funny moments occurred during the contestant interviews. It was seen once a week, but had returning champs. Parents' came up on stage for the bonus round. GSN ran every episode on the weekend "Kid Zone" in the late '90s.
A neat attempt at a different kind of game show. Contestants on this show predicted whether or not other contestants would break world records and wind up in the Guinness Book. Actor Don Galloway was the host. I used to watch this every Sunday afternoon, but it was gone after a year. There are conflicting reports as to whether episodes of this show still exist.
In the fall of 1979, Chuck Barris had Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Three's a Crowd in daily strip syndication (Gong Show was still once a week at this point, but some cities aired reruns five days a week). The former two were doing very well until a backlash started over the latter. Three's a Crowd tried to find out who knew more about a man - his wife, or his secretary. The questions were very sexually suggestive. The show was considered bad taste by many. The negative press over this show actually pulled down the ratings of the other two. Barris decided withdraw all of his shows from the marketplace, but had one last entry up his sleeve. Camouflage was one of the few "serious" game shows he ever did. It had contestants try to find a hidden drawing inside a larger picture. It ran for 13 episodes but was pulled off when Barris decided to get out of the business for a while. In the fall of 1980, Newlywed Game reruns could still be seen on many stations, and he did try an updated version of Treasure Hunt as a daily strip in the fall of 1981, but that only lasted a year. By fall 1984, Dating and Newlywed were back in daily repeats, which led to new versions of each show a couple of years later. Barris sold his company in late 1986.
Although shows like Three's a Crowd, Concentration, What's My Line, and even To Tell the Truth may have been seen during these checkerboard slots in some cities, they were intended for five-a-week runs and not included on this list. Also, those shows were seen during the mornings in some cities, while the shows described above were primarily seen during the evenings.
Any that I've missed? Please e-mail me and I'll include them.
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