The Chair (game show)
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|Directed by||Michael A. Simon|
|Presented by||John McEnroe|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13 (4 unaired)|
|Running time||approx. 44-52 Minutes|
|Original run||January – March 2002|
The Chair is a game show television program that premiered on ABC in January 2002. It was hosted by former tennis champion John McEnroe and directed by Michael A. Simon. Among the show's writers was writer/actress Teresa Strasser, who had served on ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and later hosted While You Were Out after The Chair was cancelled.
Before the Show
Contestants on the program underwent extensive medical supervision before they ever made it to the actual game. They were given intelligence tests and had their heart monitored for several hours, among other diagnostic procedures such as seeing how the contestants would react to sudden surprises. If they were declared fit, they would move on to the game.
Once seated in the Chair, the contestant found him/herself looking up at a large video screen on which McEnroe's image was displayed, as well as the information for the current question. He/she began with a stake of $5,000 and could increase it to a maximum of $250,000 by answering a series of seven multiple-choice questions. However, the contestant's heart rate was continuously measured throughout the game and compared to a "redline" threshold. This value started at 60% (later 70%) above the resting heart rate, and it was lowered by 5% of the resting heart rate after each question.
Money was subtracted from the contestant's total for every second that his/her heart rate exceeded the redline value ("redlining"). In addition, he/she was ineligible to give an answer during this time; only after the heart rate dropped below the threshold could an answer be given. (Redlining between questions, or while a question was being asked, carried no penalty.) The third question involved recalling information from a video clip, the fifth was a list, and the seventh involved choosing which event occurred first/last (However, in Stephen Benjamin's game, he was asked a question about animal groups for #7). After the fourth question, McEnroe would make a one-time offer: keep the redline rate constant for the next question, at a cost of $25,000. This was rarely - if ever - accepted.
As long as the contestant had money in the account, and continued to answer questions correctly the game continued. The game can end if these events occur.
- Answering a question incorrectly
- Money runs out from redlining
- Receiving three warnings from the Countermeasure rule
The question values and penalties for redlining are shown in the table below.
|Question||Value||Redline penalty (per second)|
At two points during the contestant's campaign, a "heartstopper" event took place. These were designed to raise the heart rate (coming face to face with an alligator, a hive of bees, a large pendulum swinging just over their head, having McEnroe serve tennis balls at the contestant's head, etc.). If the contestant could endure the event for 15 seconds, or 20 seconds in the Korean version of the show, the event would end. If he/she went over the redline rate, the event would continue until the heart rate was under control, and he/she would lose money at the rate for the previously answered question. In the Korean version, the host is responsible for initiating the heartstopper by saying, simply enough, "start the heartstopper," at which point the countdown begins.
After answering the $15,000 question correctly (for a potential prize of $35,000), the contestant earned the chance to "stabilize". Once during the rest of the game, he/she could exercise this option after a correct answer; if he/she misses a question or receives three warnings, he/she would leave with the money won up to the "stabilize" point. However, if the contestant redlined in the interim and went below the stabilized amount, the stabilized amount would fall and match the current prize amount.
In the UK Version of the show, if you keep Gambling after your third & fourth question, you have to stabilize after correctly answering the fifth question regardless on how low your winnings are. This may have not happened in the US show.
If a contestant could answer all seven questions correctly and keep his/her heart under control for the entire game, the top prize of $250,000 is awarded.
Contestants were required to stay alert during the game at all times. If a contestant tried to close his/her eyes or perform some other task in an attempt to lower the heart rate, McEnroe gave a warning. Three warnings would end the game (contestants can still leave with their stabilized amount). The latter never happened, though one contestant on the US show was warned twice and almost disqualified for the above actions. On the first episode, one contestant closed her eyes for the entire time on the one heartstopper she reached and was not given a warning. In the Korean version, that warning rule only applies in heartstoppers.
The Chair lasted for nine episodes on ABC in 2002, but not before two people managed to answer the final question correctly; Kris Mackerer won $224,600 and Steven Benjamin won the maximum $250,000. Just a week before Mackerer's $224,600 win; another player, Dean Sheffron, saw the last question but redlined away a massive $132,200 and lost it all after he was unable to get his heart-rate under control.
13 episodes were taped but the remaining four were never aired, despite ABC originally announcing they would air the entire order, but soon changed their minds.
Many episodes were taped post-midnight hours to hurry production in order to compete with Fox's show The Chamber. The latter was also cancelled quickly, airing only three episodes.
The Chamber vs. The Chair
The Chair premiered around the same time FOX's torture show The Chamber premiered. Both production companies fought over this, each claiming the other show was a rip-off of theirs. A lawsuit was filed, but nothing became of it.
|Country||Name||Host||Channel||Prize||First year aired|
|Ibrahim Abu Joudeh||Abu Dhabi TV||US$100,000||2003|
|Australia||The Celebrity Chair||Shamar Stewart||Nickelodeon||250.000||January 2002 - March 2002|
|Austria||The Chair||Oliver Stamm||ATV (Austria)||€25,000||2003|
|Asparuh Minchev||NOVA||25 000лева||2002 - 2003|
|France||Zone Rouge||Jean-Pierre Foucault||TF1||€30,000||January 2003-April 2005|
|Masanori Hamada||TBS||¥10,000,000||May 25- September 28, 2005|
|Mexico||La Silla||Juan Manuel Bernal||TV Azteca||MX$250,000||2005|
|New Zealand||The Chair||Matthew Ridge||NZ On Screen||NZ$50,000||2002|
|Fedor Bondarchuk||STS||RUB1,000,000||Septemder 7, 2002 — August 28, 2004|
|South Korea||더 체어 코리아
The Chair Korea
|Seo Gyeong-seok||KBS||₩20,000,000||December 14, 2011|
|Shin Dong-yup||₩50,000,000||March 14, 2012|
|Thailand||The Chair เก้าอี้ระทึก
The Chair Kao-Ie-Ra-Teuk
|Noppon Komarachun||BBTV CH7||฿3,000,000||July 8 - November 25, 2003|
|United Kingdom||The Chair||John McEnroe||BBC One||£50,000||August 31-November 9, 2002|