Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2011)|
|Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck|
|Created by||Bill Carruthers|
|Presented by||Todd Newton|
|Narrated by||Gary Kroeger|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||130|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Original run||April 15, 2002– December 5, 2003|
|Preceded by||Second Chance (1977)
Press Your Luck (1983–86)
Whammy! (subtitled The All-New Press Your Luck for its first season) is an American television game show that aired new episodes on Game Show Network from April 15, 2002 to December 5, 2003. The program is updated version of Press Your Luck, which originally aired on CBS from 1983–86. Reruns of Whammy! have aired since production of new episodes stopped in 2003, and the program currently airs in reruns on GSN weekend mornings at 9:30am Eastern/8:30am Central.
Gameplay remained largely similar to Press Your Luck, with contestants accumulating cash and prizes and attempting to avoid landing on a Whammy, who took away the winnings of any contestant who landed on it.
At the start of the game, each of three players was spotted $1,000 and took turns taking one spin at a time on the board. After each cycle of spins, additional Whammies were added to the board replacing cash values or prizes, and contestants chose to spin again or freeze with their score at that point. Landing on a whammy in round one not only reduced that player's score to $0, but also eliminated them from further play in the round. Play continued until all three contestants froze or were eliminated. Cash values ranged from $100–$1,500 in round one, and prizes of similar values also appeared.
Round two consisted of five questions posed to the players. The host read a question, and one of the contestants buzzed-in and provided a response. Their response, along with two other choices, were provided to the other two contestants, who selected one of the choices. Correct answers paid off with three spins for a buzz-in answer and one spin for a multiple choice answer. After five questions, all three contestants advanced to the final round.
In the final round, cash values ranged from $500–$5,000, and some spaces offered additional spins in addition to cash. Other spaces offered the choice of up to four adjacent spaces, or directed the contestants directly to another space. Also added to the board were Double Whammies, which—in addition to reducing a player's score to $0—added a physical consequence following the Whammy's appearance (e.g., spraying the contestant with water, dropping ping pong balls on them, etc.) Play began with the player with the lowest score at the start of the round, or, in the case of a tie for last place, the player with the fewest spins. If there was still a tie in terms of score and spin totals, the player to the farthest left went first. Additionally, players could also pass any remaining spins to their opponent with the higher total, who was then forced to play those spins until they were either exhausted or the player hit a Whammy, at which point any remaining passed spins were added to their earned spin total. If the contestant's opponents were tied, the passing contestant chose to whom the spins were awarded.
The contestant in the lead at the end of the game kept any cash and/or prizes in their bank at that time. Unlike Press Your Luck, three new contestants appeared on each episode.
A space labeled "Pick-a-Prize" appeared in the first round only. Any contestant who landed on it was offered his or her choice of any prize currently appearing on the board at the time it was stopped. In round two, one space labeled "$2,000 or Lose-1-Whammy" gave the contestant a choice of $2,000 a cash prize or removing a previously-landed-upon Whammy (also seen on the classic show). "$1,000 or Spin Again" offered the choice of a guaranteed $1,000 cash prize or the opportunity to spin again (without using one of their earned spins), although this was later changed to "$555 or Spin Again" for Season 2.
Contestants also had an opportunity to win a Gem Car during the game. To claim the prize, the contestant needed to land on the "GEM" space in round one, and avoid landing on a Whammy for the rest of the round. In round two, the contestant needed to land on the "CAR" space, and again avoid the Whammy, and also win the game. In season two, the GEM car was replaced with a Suzuki Aerio SX, and the contestant needed to claim both halves of a car key in order to win the prize.
A new feature called "Big Bank" was added for the second season. The Big Bank on each episode began with $3,000, and any cash and prizes that the contestants lost after landing on a Whammy were added into the bank. If a contestant landed on the Big Bank square, the host asked an open-ended general-knowledge trivia question to the contestant, who collected the money and prizes in the bank if the question was answered correctly. Once the Big Bank was claimed by a contestant it was re-staked with $3,000. Two Big Bank squares appeared in round one, and one square appeared in round two.
Unlike Press Your Luck, Whammy! generated random prizes and light patterns for each space on the Big Board using a personal computer, running at a speed of 200 MHz. This resulted in a very large number of patterns for gameplay, which prevented memorization of patterns as Michael Larson famously did on Press Your Luck.
Also, Whammies were animated in 3-D, created by computer animation studio WIT Animation, instead of being hand-drawn as on Press Your Luck. Animations continued to feature humorous antics or spoofs of then-relevant pop culture (e.g., Steve Irwin, Harry Potter, N'Sync, Britney Spears, Godzilla, etc.).
- Stacie Chambers- Contestant to win the most in cash and prizes during a regular season. She won $24,929 in Episode 78, including $15,000 cash, a spa retreat vacation in Mexico, fitness equipment, an antique rug, a laptop, and a Vermont ski resort vacation. Stacie later returned for the Tournament of Champions, but did not win. Following her appearances, she went on to work behind the scenes for several other game shows including GSN's I've Got a Secret, Annie Duke Takes on the World and 1 vs 100.
- Sandy Fox—Now a voice actress, she won a grand total of $11,337 on May 2, 2002. She later returned for the Tournament of Champions (July 23, 2003), but Whammied out in the finals.
- Lex Lang—Anime voice actor and husband of Sandy Fox; he appeared on June 26, 2002 (under the name "Alexis" Lang), but did not win his game.
- Skyler Stone—Host of Con on Comedy Central, he lost his appearance on the first aired episode (April 15, 2002). Stone was invited back for the special "Tournament of Losers" (July 21, 2003) but lost again – this time losing a near-record $21,989 to the Whammy in his next-to-last spin. Stone was also a contestant (and Top Dog) on Dog Eat Dog later that year.
The April 1, 2003 episode featured Graham Elwood, host of Cram, guest-hosting Whammy!, and Newton made an appearance as a "Double Whammy-in-training", with his face featured on Whammy-like "Newton" spaces – which, when landed on, told of the "prize" the contestant had just "won".
Janie Litras and Ed Long appeared on a special episode coinciding with GSN's documentary Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal. Litras and Long originally appeared on the episodes airing June 8 and 11, 1984, competing against Michael Larson, who had memorized the light pattern and went on to win $110,237. Larson's brother, James, competed in the 2003 episode against Litras and Long as Michael had died of throat cancer in 1999. Original Press Your Luck host Peter Tomarken made a special appearance hosting the question round of this episode, which would be one of his last television appearances.
July 21, 2003 featured a "Tournament of Losers" episode with three past contestants who had lost their game. The episode's winner also received a trip to Maui in addition to their winnings. July 22–25 of that same week featured a Tournament of Champions, with nine of the biggest winners to that point competing for additional cash and prizes. The winners on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday episodes returned to compete against each other on the Friday episode in the finale of the tournament. Friday's episode featured higher-valued spaces in both rounds, and the eventual winner also received a Suzuki Aerio SX as a bonus prize in addition to their grand total winnings.