Russian Roulette (game show)
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|Created by||Gunnar Wetterberg|
|Presented by||Mark L. Walberg|
|Narrated by||Burton Richardson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||131|
|Location(s)||Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, California
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Columbia TriStar Television
|Original run||June 3, 2002– June 13, 2003|
Russian Roulette is an American game show created by executive producer Gunnar Wetterberg that ran for two seasons on Game Show Network from June 3, 2002 to June 13, 2003. It was hosted by Mark L. Walberg, with Burton Richardson announcing. Todd Newton hosted an April Fool's Day episode in 2003. The series was produced by Sony Pictures Television domestically and internationally. The pilot was produced at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City in 2001.
The Russian Roulette set consists of a circle with six trapdoors, four of which are occupied by the episode's contestants.
The four contestants are each given $150 at the beginning of the episode, and questions in the first round are all worth that same amount.
One contestant, randomly selected to start the game, is read a question by the host, and must challenge another contestant to answer correctly. Once a contestant has been selected to answer the question, the multiple-choice options are given (three choices in the first round, four thereafter, all increasing in difficulty as the round progresses). The challenged contestant has ten seconds to answer. If the challenged contestant gives a correct answer, they receive money and control of the next question.
If a challenged contestant gives an incorrect answer or if time runs out before an answer is given, that contestant forfeits all their accumulated winnings to their challenger and is forced to play Russian Roulette by pulling a handle in front of them.
The trapdoor of the contestant who answered incorrectly is unlocked, and the host gives that player a chance to say any last words. The contestant then pulls a handle adjacent to their trapdoor, which triggers the active red drop zone lights to begin spinning around the field. In season one, the result of the spin was determined at random. In season two, the contestant controlled the length of the spin by how long he or she held the handle.
The number of red lights on the field indicates the number of active drop zones. At the start of the round there is only one drop zone active. After each additional question, another drop zone is added, increasing the odds that the contestant will be eliminated after providing an incorrect answer. From the fifth question onward, there are always five drop zones.
If the drop zone light stops on the trapdoor on which the affected contestant is standing, that trapdoor opens and drops the contestant three feet into a room below. Once a contestant drops out of the game, the round is over and the next round begins following a commercial break.
If the contestant avoids being dropped, the game continues until an undefined time limit expires, with the contestant avoiding the drop becoming the challenger for the next question. Following a signal noting time has expired, the winnings of all remaining contestants are compared. The person with the highest score is escorted to the center of the stage, and is safe from dropping. He or she pulls a handle in the center which starts a random-elimination spin in which a single red light revolves around the cylinder until it stops on one of the remaining contestants. That contestant is eliminated from the game, and the winnings of the eliminated contestant are distributed equally among the remaining three contestants. If more than one contestant is tied for the lead, the host pulls the lever and all four contestants are in danger of dropping.
Second and third rounds
The second round is played similarly to the first, with the three remaining contestants answering questions valued at $200 each. One contestant is eliminated in this round, with the two remaining contestants competing in round three.
The two contestants who survive to round three compete against each other by answering questions valued at $300 in season 1 and $250 in season 2. In the third round, after being asked the question, the contestant has two choices, either to answer the question themselves or pass the question to his or her opponent. Answering correctly adds the value of the question to their bank. Answering incorrectly causes the contestant to lose all accumulated money to his or her opponent and forces the contestant to play Russian Roulette. If neither contestant has been eliminated before time runs out in round three, the contestant with the higher score is declared the champion, adds their opponent's score to their own, and their opponent is dropped. As before, if both contestants are tied, a random round of Russian Roulette is played to determine the winner of the game, with the host pulling the lever himself.
The contestant is moved to the top-left zone and has 60 seconds to answer five "brain-teaser" questions referred to by the host as "Five Killer Questions". These usually consist of word jumbles, math problems and general-knowledge questions. The timer begins ticking while the host asks the first question. After every ten seconds, one drop zone opens on the playfield. If time runs out or the contestant at any time gives an incorrect answer, he or she drops, but receives $500 for every correct answer. The contestant has the option to pass on a question and return to it if time allows. Also, the contestant must say "My answer is..." before their answer so that thinking aloud is not mistaken for an answer.
If the contestant gets all five questions correct, the clock stops and he or she wins $10,000. He or she then has the option of exchanging the money for one final round of Russian Roulette, with the number of drop zones unopened being safe. If the contestant risks his or her winnings and survives the round of Russian Roulette, their prize increases to $100,000. If the contestant does not survive, he or she drops and loses the money accumulated in the bonus round and wins only the money won in the first three rounds. The money won through the first three rounds, however, is the winner's to keep and therefore not risked for the bonus round.
If the risk is refused, the contestant pulls the lever to see what would have happened had the contestant taken the risk. However, the contestant gets to step off the trapdoor.
The endgame is similar to the first version, except the contestant must answer ten multiple-choice questions (each with three choices) in 60 seconds in order to win $10,000. The timer only starts ticking after the first question has been read. If the contestant fails, an additional $300 is given for every correct answer given. Saying "My answer is" before the answer is no longer required. As before, should all ten questions be answered correctly, the clock stops, and the contestant then has the option of risking their bonus round winnings for a final pull.
Three people won the grand prize on Russian Roulette:
- Al Winchell: 3 drop zones, $102,150 total winnings (season 1)
- Todd Truly: 4 drop zones, $102,200 total winnings (season 1)
- Maria Lay: 5 drop zones, $102,000 total winnings (season 2)
- Sometimes, the host would jump down one of the open drop zones at the end of the episode, such as the Playboy Playmates episode and the April Fools' Day episode hosted by Todd Newton.
- At the end of every episode, the host would say "Be sure to join us next time for the ultimate game of chance, Russian Roulette. I am Mark Walberg saying 'Until I see you again,watch your step!'".
Legend:Currently airing No longer airing
|Country||Name||Host||Channel||Prize||First year aired|
|Argentina||Decisión Final||Horacio Cabak||América||AR$100.000||June 6, 2003|
|Brazil||Roleta Russa||Milton Neves||Rede Record||R$500.000||October 2002-October 2003|
|Bulgaria||Руска pулeткa||Nikolay Georgiev||BNT 1||100.000лв||2003|
|Chile||Ruleta Rusa||Diana Bolocco||Canal 13||$100.000.000||May 5, 2013|
|Ayman Kaisouni||ERTU1||250.000 ج.م.||September 2010|
|Hong Kong||一觸即發||Dayo Wong||TVB||HK$500,000||2002|
|India||Bachke Rehnaa Zara Sambhalna||Mohnish Behl||SET||Rs.1,000,000||September 9, 2002|
|Indonesia||Russian Roulette||Dede Yusuf||Trans TV||Rp100,000,000||September 2002-December 2003|
|Poland||Rosyjska Ruletka||Henryk Talar
|Portugal||Decisão Final||José Carlos Malato||RTP1||€30.000||May 28, 2012-January 13, 2013|
|Romania||Ruleta Rusească||Razvan Exarhu
|Russia||Русская рулетка||Valdis Pelsh||Channel One||1,000,000руб||April 2, 2002-August 6, 2004|
|Serbia and Montenegro||Ruski Rulet!
|Irfan Mensur||RTV Pink||Unknown||September 2003-July 2005|
|Ruski Rulet Show!
Руски рулет шоу!
Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Dragan Marinković Maca||RTV Pink
|Singapore||灵机一洞||Xu Nailin||MediaCorp TV Channel 8||S$10,000||2003-2004|
|Spain||Decisíon Fínal||Luis Crespo||Telecinco||€10,000||March 18, 2002|
|Taiwan||俄羅斯輪盤||Cai Kangyong||Star Chinese Channel||NT$1,000,000||Unknown|
|Turkey||Rus Ruleti||Berkun Oya||Star TV||1,000,000YTL||April 12, 2008|
|United Kingdom||Russian Roulette||Rhona Cameron||ITV||£10,000||November 7, 2002 (Pilot)
April 1, 2003-April 22, 2003
|United States||Russian Roulette||Mark L. Walberg||GSN||$100,000||-|
On all versions of Russian Roulette outside of the U.S., U.K., the Portuguese, and the Polish version in the season two, there are also displays of the contestants' heart rates on the screen (examples include Russia's, Poland's (season one), and Hong Kong's versions), and most versions even have the contestants themselves asking questions to their opponents. There is also a camera underneath each of the trapdoors to catch footage of the contestant dropping from another angle. Some may also have a maximum time limit of 15 seconds instead of 10 to answer questions. Polish version have a 30 seconds to answer the question in season one and 20 seconds in season two. Most versions of the show (except for the versions in the U.S., Greece, Taiwan and India) run for an hour rather than half-hour.