Couch Potatoes (game show)

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Couch Potatoes
Presented by Marc Summers
Narrated by Joe Alaskey
Jim McKrell
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 100
Location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time 30 minutes
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original channel Syndicated (daily)
Original run January 23  – September 8, 1989

Couch Potatoes was an American game show that aired in syndication from January 23, 1989 until September 8, 1989. This show was produced by Saban Entertainment and Group W Productions, the latter of which served as distributor.

Marc Summers, who at the time was also hosting Double Dare on Nickelodeon, hosted Couch Potatoes. Comedian and voice actor Joe Alaskey was the announcer and appeared on camera in the role of Summers' next door neighbor. Alaskey left the show toward the end of its run and was replaced by veteran host and announcer Jim McKrell, who did not appear on camera.


Couch Potatoes featured two teams of three players each competing to answer trivia questions about television. Both teams had TV-centric names, and one was usually a returning champion.

The game started with a toss up question, referred to as the "Tune-In" question, a multiple choice question worth 25 points and control. All six players had the ability to ring in and answer, but answering incorrectly forfeited control to the other team.

The team in control was then asked three questions referred to as "Spin-Offs". Each question was worth 25 points (referred to as "ratings points") and each member of the team could only attempt one question. If at any time the team answered incorrectly, the other team was given a chance to steal control.

Four rounds were played in this manner, and for the third and fourth the point values doubled to 50 for each correct answer.

Late in the run, two additional rounds of questioning were added; the first three rounds were worth 25 points and the last three 50.

Couch Up Round[edit]

The Couch Up Round was the last round and was played face-off style.

Each question was a toss up, and the value for each question was determined by a randomizer. After the question was asked, whichever team member that buzzed in first was told the value of the question and prompted for an answer. Answering correctly awarded the points, but answering incorrectly gave the opponent a chance to steal.

The question values ranged from 50 to 200 points in increments of 50. The randomizer could also display "Couch Up", which meant that if the trailing team answered the question correctly they would immediately tie the score. If the leaders answered correctly the team did not gain or lose anything.

Six questions were asked, and play moved in order from one end of the couch to the other.

At the end of the six questions, the team in the lead won the game, $1,000, and a chance for $5,000 more in the Channel Roulette bonus round. The opponents, by virtue of not having enough ratings points, were considered "cancelled" and left with parting gifts.

If there was a tie at the end of the Couch Up Round, one final question was played and whoever answered it correctly won the game for his/her team.

Bonus Round: Channel Roulette[edit]

In Channel Roulette, the objective for the team was to identify TV shows using pictures of their casts. There were twelve "channels", laid out in a 4-by-3 grid and numbered 2-13 as on a standard VHF setup, and eleven of them featured pictures. Each of those pictures had a point value attached, with amounts ranging from 100 to 1,000.

One at a time, moving end to end as before, each team member would choose a channel. If a picture was hidden behind the channel Summers would inform the team of its point value before the player guessed.

One of the channels hid a screen called "Pay TV". If this came up at any time the team's score reset to zero, but play would continue as long as there was time left.

The team had thirty seconds to accumulate at least 1,000 points, and doing so won $5,000. If they did not do so, they received $1 for each point they had earned before time expired.

Teams stayed on the show until they won five games or were defeated.

Episode status[edit]

All episodes of Couch Potatoes exist. Reruns began airing on USA Network on September 11, 1989, three days after the show aired for the final time in syndication, and continued to air until March 23, 1990.


During its eight-month run, Couch Potatoes had numerous celebrity guests on the show; they usually appeared in Round Four asking questions about their career or show. One show featured Jack Larson and Noel Neill, better known as Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane from the 1950s series The Adventures of Superman, asking questions about that classic series. Another notable guest was Gary Coleman, who asked questions about Diff'rent Strokes and mentioned to host Summers he was asked to be the youth chairman for the Just Say No Foundation. During one week, game show celebrities Bob Eubanks, Jim Lange, Janice Pennington, Wink Martindale, Peter Marshall, Johnny Gilbert, and Gary Owens appeared.

Other celebs included Larry Mathews from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Isabel Sanford from The Jeffersons, Dick Sargent from Bewitched, Alaina Reed Hall from 227, Dorothy Lyman from Mama's Family, Steve Allen, and Rebeca Arthur from Perfect Strangers. The premiere episode had Dennis Franz as a guest asking questions about Hill Street Blues.