Russian Roulette (game show)

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Russian Roulette
Russian Roulette (game show - screencap).jpg
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
Production
Location(s) Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, California
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Columbia TriStar Television
GSN Originals
Broadcast
Original channel GSN
Original run June 3, 2002 (2002-06-03) – June 13, 2003 (2003-06-13)

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.[citation needed]

Gameplay[edit]

The Russian Roulette set consists of a circle with six trapdoors, four of which are occupied by the episode's contestants.

First round[edit]

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. 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[edit]

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 $100,000 Bonus Round[edit]

First season[edit]

The winning 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.

Second season[edit]

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.

International versions[edit]

On all versions of Russian Roulette outside of the U.S., U.K., Portugal, and Poland (in 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. The Polish version has 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 a half-hour.

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
 Egypt الدائرة
El Daera
Ayman Kaisouni ERTU1 250.000 ج.م. September 2010
 Greece Ρωσική Ρουλέτα
Rosiki Rouleta
Miltos Makridis MEGA 100.000 2002-2003
 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 4, 2002-December 31, 2003
 Poland Rosyjska Ruletka Henryk Talar
Krzysztof Ibisz
Polsat 100,000 2002-2004
 Portugal Decisão Final José Carlos Malato RTP1 30.000 May 28, 2012 – January 13, 2013
 Romania Ruleta Rusească Razvan Exarhu
Florin Mihoc
TVR 1.000.000.000lei 2003
 Russia Русская рулетка Valdis Pelsh Channel One 1,000,000руб April 2, 2002 – August 6, 2004
 Serbia and Montenegro Ruski Rulet!
Руски рулет!
Irfan Mensur RTV Pink Unknown September 2003-July 2005
Ruski Rulet Show!
Руски рулет шоу!
(VIP version)
Milan Kalinić Unknown Unknown
 Serbia
 Croatia
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Montenegro
 Slovenia
 Macedonia
Ruski Rulet!
Руски рулет!
Dragan Marinković Maca RTV Pink
Pink BH
Pink M
2,000 January 2007 – 2008
 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 October 31, 2002 (Pilot)
April 1, 2003 – April 22, 2003

References[edit]

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