The Challengers (game show)
The Challengers opening logo.
|Created by||Ron Greenberg|
|Directed by||Morris Abraham, Chris Darley|
|Presented by||Dick Clark|
|Narrated by||Don Morrow
Bob Hilton (substitute)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location(s)||Hollywood Center Studios
|Running time||approx. 22-24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Ron Greenberg Productions
Dick Clark Productions
|Distributor||Disney-ABC Domestic Television|
|Original run||September 3, 1990 – August 30, 1991|
The Challengers is an American syndicated game show from Ron Greenberg Productions, Dick Clark Productions, and Buena Vista Television. The show was hosted by Dick Clark. The show premiered on September 3, 1990 and ended on August 30, 1991. Don Morrow was the announcer, with Bob Hilton occasionally substituting.
The game included elements of Greenberg's earlier show, The Who, What, or Where Game, seen during the early 1970s and hosted by Art James. Unlike most syndicated game shows, the series continued airing new episodes well into the summer of 1991, a time when most syndicated programming was generally in reruns.
Three contestants, one a returning champion, competed.
Challengers Sprint Round
Contestants were spotted $200 to start the round, and host Clark would read a series of rapid-fire questions. Correct answers added $100 to a player's score, while incorrect answers deducted $100 and took the question out of play for the other two players. Prior to this, if a player missed, either of the other two contestants could buzz in and attempt to answer the question. At the end of 60 seconds, whoever was in the lead took control of the first round. If two players were tied, one final Sprint question was asked, with a correct answer or an incorrect answer by an opponent gaining control.
This round was briefly removed partway through the run in favor of a single toss-up question. The contestant who answered correctly scored $100 and control of the Round 1 board. The Sprint later returned.
The contestant leading after the Challengers Sprint picked one of six categories, each of which has three questions. The contestants are then given clues to the subjects of the three questions worth, in increasing order of difficulty, $150, $200, and $250 (later reduced to $100, $150, and $200). Correct answers added the value of the question to the contestant's score, while incorrect answers subtracted the same value.
Contestants then secretly chose the question they wanted to face using buttons on their podiums. What happened next depends on how the vote broke down:
- Each contestant chooses a different question. The three questions are asked in increasing order of value; each player must answer his or her question.
- Two players choose one question, the third player chooses a different question. The questions were asked in increasing order of value. The solo contestant must answer his or her question, while the two players who chose the same question use their buzzers. If the first player of the two who chose the same question is incorrect, the second player may attempt to answer or pass.
- All three players choose the same question. All three question values were immediately doubled, and the question is asked. The same toss-up rules as above apply. A contestant answering the question correctly has the option to play either of the remaining questions unopposed. Contestants who successfully answer the second question have the option to play the third. An incorrect answer on either question subtracted the doubled value of that question from the contestant's score and ended the category.
In each case, the last contestant to give a correct answer then picks a new category. Play continues until all six categories were played or time ran out.
Six new categories were introduced and play continued as described above. Question values doubled to $300, $400, and $500 ($200, $300, and $400 after the Sprint Round was removed).
As in Round One, play continued until all six categories were played or time ran out. If any player had $0 or less at the end of this round they were eliminated from further play.
One final category was presented, with three questions. The difficulty of the individual questions determined the payout odds for that question. The easiest question paid off at even odds, the harder question paid off at 2:1 and the hardest paid off at 3:1. The players were then given fifteen seconds to choose a question and decide how much of their score they wanted to wager. As before, if all three players chose different questions each player got a chance to play their own question. However, if two or all three players chose the same question, only the player with the highest wager got to answer. Correctly answering won the value of the wager multiplied by the odds, while an incorrect answer only deducted the value of the wager.
In the rare instance that only one player remained in the game to play the Final Challenge, that player was given the option as to whether or not they wanted to play the round. Should the player decide to play the round, the round was played in a different fashion. The player picked a question and declared their wager, and if they answered correctly they could elect to attempt any of the remaining questions. An incorrect answer at any time ended the round and the game.
Whoever was in the lead won the game and returned the next day, although all contestants kept what they had earned. Winnings were awarded either by cash or by a Citibank debit card, originally Visa and later a choice of Visa or MasterCard. Champions on The Challengers continued to play until they were defeated.
Like many game shows before it, The Challengers featured a bonus game where champions could win thousands of dollars. The round was called The Ultimate Challenge and was conducted in two different ways. The Ultimate Challenge made its debut on the sneak preview pilot episode that was televised before the premiere and was removed from the proceedings sometime in early 1991.
When the Ultimate Challenge was introduced, it was a game played for an accumulating cash jackpot beginning at $50,000. The difference between this and other bonus rounds was that it was not played every day. Instead a champion had to qualify for the Ultimate Challenge by winning three matches consecutively. The only exception to this rule was the aired pilot, where the winner of the match became the first player to play the Ultimate Challenge.
Once the champion won the necessary three matches, the Ultimate Challenge was played at the very beginning of the following show. The champion was given a choice of two categories to play, with each one featuring three subjects and questions of increasing difficulty. For each question, the champion was given a five second thinking period before giving the answer. Answering all three questions correctly won the jackpot.
Initially, the idea was for the value of the Ultimate Challenge to increase by $5,000 each time it was not completed successfully. After the pilot, where the round was played by initial champion Doak Fairey and lost, no contestant had won the necessary three matches. So, beginning on September 17, 1990, the rules were changed. The jackpot started at $55,000, where it had been, and increased by $1,000 for every day the round was not played. On September 24, 1990, champion Larry Kaplan became the first champion since the premiere to play the Ultimate Challenge and won a $60,000 jackpot.
After this, the starting value of the Ultimate Challenge was reduced to $25,000. The same rules, including the $1,000 increase per day, remained in effect. For each day that the round was played, the first round was abbreviated with only enough time available for three categories.
At midseason, the Ultimate Challenge became a daily bonus game played for an additional $10,000. The champion was given a category and (usually) a question featuring multiple answers. Answering it correctly added the money to the champion's total winnings, while answering it incorrectly won nothing.
Tournament of Champions
During the week of November 12, 1990 a five-day Tournament of Champions was held featuring the nine biggest winners to that point. The field included eight past champions and Stanley Newman, who was at that time the current champion in regular play and whose winnings at that point were high enough for him to qualify.
The tournament structure was similar to that employed by Jeopardy! for its tournaments. The nine players faced off on the first three days of the tournament, with the three winners playing a two-day cumulative score final. All three players kept whatever they earned in the two games, with the tournament winner earning an additional $25,000.
Newman won the tournament and over $40,000; on November 18, he became the all-time Challengers champion with a $31,000 Ultimate Challenge win. He retired with $112,480.
Nine teachers competed, using the same format as the Tournament of Champions; $10,000 was awarded to the winner.
In March 1991, a second Tournament of Champions was held with nine players. The rules were the same as the prior two Tournaments, with an additional $10,000 awarded to the winner. Lorin Burte, who had won $46,075 during his time as champion, won the Tournament and an additional $44,685 ($34,600 in the two-day final) to retire with $90,760.
Many questions were related to current events, an aspect that the producers saw as a selling point. Episodes were taped shortly before their airdate, which was prominently displayed in the opening and on a screen behind Clark; generally, a week of episodes were taped on the Friday of the previous week, which allowed such categories as "This Week On TV" and "Today At The Movies" to be used frequently.
Most of the current event questions and answers were taken from, or verified by, Newsweek; this was announced on-air at the midpoint of each episode.