Cram (game show)

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Genre Game show, reality show
Presented by Graham Elwood
Starring Berglind Icey
Arturo Gil
Andrea Hutchman
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 80
Running time 22–24 minutes
Original network GSN
Original release January 6 (2003-01-06) – September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)

Cram is a game show that aired as an original series for GSN in 2003. The show featured two teams, each composed of two contestants. For 24 hours before taping, the contestants were sequestered in a warehouse, with the intent of staying awake and "cramming" various material such as trivia questions and jokes, which they would then answer on the show while attempting physical stunts in an attempt to stay awake.[1] Graham Elwood was the host and Berglind Icey (referred to simply as "Icey" on the show) was the co-host. Saturn was a major sponsor of this show. When the contestants left the store window where they crammed, they were delivered to the studio in a Saturn ION.

The Rant[edit]

To start, both teams were given 100 points. Each team was required to talk about one of three articles they had been assigned to read while exercising inside a giant hamster wheel.

The winners of a "3 a.m. coin toss" selected one of three topics (two in the second season); the other team picked from the two remaining choices. Each player had to talk continuously for 20 seconds (40 seconds total); stopping, stalling, stuttering, freezing, or going off-topic at any point penalized the team five points per violation. If a team said one of eight hidden key words or phrases related to the article, ten points were added to their score. After the first team Ranted, the second team attempted their Rant. However, both teams had to continually walk inside the wheels during both Rants.

Stunt round[edit]

For round two, each team (starting with the team in the lead) performed a stunt and answered a list of questions for 40 seconds (45 seconds in the first season). The round tested the teams' ability to multitask after being deprived of sleep. Stunts took various forms, such as demonstrating yoga positions, matching cuts of meat to a picture of a cow, or even firing hard candies at small chocolate bunnies using a slingshot. All of the physical aspects of the stunts were things that the contestants had been given to study overnight. Every stunt had seven physical items. Each successful part of the stunt won 20 points for the team.

While the partners alternated playing the stunt, they also alternated answering a list of questions read by Elwood. After he read the item, the partner had to give the relevant answer to score 10 points. Both parts of the round happened at the same time and never stopped, so one contestant might be assuming a yoga position and answering a question simultaneously if both their turns came up at the same time. Passing on any question was considered a wrong answer. Each list consisted of 12 questions; if the team completed the entire list, they would continue doing the stunt until time ran out.

At any time, the team not participating in the stunt had to continue walking inside their hamster wheel.

Riddle round[edit]

After the stunt round, both teams had one last chance to add to their points. Starting with the trailing team, one partner climbed into an exercise bike or rowing machine, and the other would ride a sidecar. The rider had 40 seconds (45 seconds in the first season) to answer riddles posed by Elwood, each worth 30 points. Before he/she could answer, however, the exercising partner had to reach and maintain a certain threshold, such as a speed of 10 miles per hour on the bike or 100 watts of power output on the rowing machine. Every passed or missed question increased this threshold. Later episodes added more challenges for the non-answering player, such as blowing into an anemometer strongly enough to register a certain wind speed, or drinking a shot of lemon juice.

At the end of this round, the higher-scoring team won $1,000 and advanced to the bonus round, while their opponents won $500. If the game ended in a tie, a question with a numerical answer was asked; both teams wrote down a guess, and the team that came closest was the winner. Each team's winnings were split evenly between the two partners.

$10,000 quiz[edit]

The two winners climbed into a pair of twin beds onstage and donned blindfolds while the lights were dimmed. "Miss Pickwick," the "resident sleep therapist" (Andrea Hutchman),[2] would read the team a series of bizarre facts during the commercial break. In addition to the facts, contestants were also read various suggestions such as "You're getting so sleepy" to make staying awake even more difficult. When the show came back from the break, the team's memory was tested on the facts Miss Pickwick had just read to them.

The lights were turned on in time with a loud alarm, often accompanied by Icey making a loud noise such as banging trash can lids, running a chainsaw, or playing an electric guitar at full volume. A 60-second countdown started, and the team had to get out of bed and run across the stage to Elwood. Before they could answer a question, they had to get all four feet off the ground and onto a balance beam, a small stump, a pair of surfboards on springs, or a moving log. Every time a player's foot or any part of their body touched the ground, a buzzer will sound and Elwood would stop reading and start the question again from the beginning. Players could answer at any time their feet were off the ground, without waiting for him to finish the question.

The team moved up one level for every correct answer, with the first such answer putting them at Level 1, but they drop one level down for every incorrect answer. If the team reached Level 5 before time ran out, they split $10,000; if not, they split $100 for each level they had reached (i.e. Level 3 - $300). Cram souvenir coffee mugs were given to $10,000 winners in the first season, and to all game-winning teams in the second season.

April Fools' Day episode[edit]

The 2003 April Fool's Day episode was hosted by Marc Summers and featured Elwood in drag as Miss Pickwick. Elwood was also featured in the POV video during round 3 appearing to be running from a vehicle trying to run him down.


  1. ^ Mason, Dave (13 January 2003). "No sleep for the weary on game show 'Cram'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Vincent Terrace. "Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010, 2d ed.". p. 217. Retrieved 2016-01-07.