Blank Check (game show)
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|Created by||Jack Barry|
|Presented by||Art James|
|Narrated by||Johnny Jacobs|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||~130|
|Running time||approx. 26 minutes|
|Original run||January 6 – July 4, 1975|
Blank Check is an American game show that aired on NBC from January 6 to July 4, 1975. It was promoted as "television's first ESP game". Art James was host, with Johnny Jacobs as announcer (though Johnny Gilbert would fill in on occasion).
Created by Jack Barry, this short-lived game was the first one produced by Barry on NBC since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, and the first of three games Barry produced at NBC (the other two were the syndicated Bullseye and NBC's Hot Potato, both under the Barry & Enright Productions brand).
Six players competed for an entire week of shows, trying to fill in a four-digit check.
One contestant played as the "check writer" and stood behind a podium positioned stage left. That contestant hit a plunger that stopped five spinning numbers, which could be used to write the check. If the contestant spun a straight (e.g., 1-2-3-4-5) they won a bonus prize. Host James asked the other five contestants, seated in a gallery at stage right, a question requiring a response containing a common relation between two things. The contestant who rang in with the correct answer attempted to guess what number (from the five spun at the start of the game) the check writer chose as the ones digit in their check. Guessing correctly meant they switched places with the check writer and started a new check for themselves, and the check writer won the amount for which the check had been completed up to that point.
If the contestant answering the question was unable to guess which number the check writer had selected, the selected number became the ones digit in the check and play continued for the tens and hundreds digits as described above.
If the check writer was able to complete three digits in their check, the check writer played a game against a studio audience member. The audience member was shown four prizes and their values, and asked to pick one. The check writer had to guess the prize the audience member selected. If incorrect, the audience member won that prize, and the process repeated with the remaining prizes. If the check writer incorrectly guessed three times, the check writer lost their position and the audience member won all four prizes.
If the check writer guessed correctly at any point, the game ended with the audience member winning all prizes accumulated to that point and the check writer earned the chance to place a fourth digit in their check. James then asked one last question to the gallery contestants. The correct respondent tried to guess the final digit selected by the check writer for the thousands digit in their check. If successful, the respondent became the new check writer. If the correct digit was not guessed, the number was placed in the check and the check writer won that amount in cash.
Once a check writer completed a four-digit check (or if they lost the audience game), another question was asked to the remaining five contestants. The person with the correct answer then exchanged places with the former check writer.
The contestant who wrote the biggest check during the week also won a car.
James expressed dislike with the show's format. He and staff members sometimes referred to it as "Blank Mind" because they thought that it "was dumb luck, a guessing game".
Blank Check debuted at 12:30 PM (11:30 AM, Central) replacing, in a scheduling shuffle with Celebrity Sweepstakes, a daytime version of Name That Tune hosted by Dennis James. At this point, the program had to end five minutes before the half-hour in order to accommodate an NBC News bulletin anchored by Edwin Newman. Check was the eleventh program to air in the 12:30/11:30 slot since that newscast began in October 1960; The Who, What, or Where Game (hosted also by James) ran the longest, from 1969-1974. NBC discontinued the five-minute newscast, its last daytime newscast, on New Year's Eve 1976.
The series was replaced on July 7 by The Magnificent Marble Machine at 12:00 Noon (11:00 AM, Central) in a scheduling shuffle with Geoff Edwards' ailing Jackpot! (which had overhauled its format the previous Monday); Jackpot! was canned twelve weeks later. The frequent scheduling changes of game shows reflected NBC's struggle to overcome CBS's resurgence in the field since 1972 and, increasingly, ABC's success with daytime serials such as All My Children.
The pilot used Quincy Jones' Chump Change, which had previously been used on Now You See It, whilst the actual series featured a similar-sounding song composed by Alan Thicke, called Hip Check. Hip Check would later be used as a prize cue on Wheel of Fortune.
- Hyatt, Wesley (2003). Short-lived television series, 1948-1978: thirty years of more than 1,000 flops. p. 232. ISBN 0-7864-1420-0.