Double Dare (Nickelodeon game show)

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This article is about the Nickelodeon game show. For the unrelated game show that aired on CBS, see Double Dare (CBS game show).
Double Dare
Double Dare logo.png
Also known as Super Sloppy Double Dare (1987, 1989)
Family Double Dare (1988, 1990–93)
Double Dare 2000 (2000)
Genre Game show
Created by
  • Geoffrey Darby
  • Michael Klinghoffer
  • Dee LaDuke
  • Robert Mittenthal
  • Debby Beece (Family Double Dare)
Written by
  • Alan Silberberg (1986–89)
  • Gary DeLena (1990–91)
  • Bobby Lory (1992–93)
  • John Ten Eyck (2000)
Directed by
  • Dana Calderwood (1986–88)
  • Hugh Martin (1989–91)
  • Lexi Rae (1992–93)
  • Hal Leigh (2000)
Presented by
Narrated by
Theme music composer
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 525 (1986–93)[1]
67 (2000)
Executive producer(s)
  • Geoffrey Darby (1986–93)
  • Eileen Braun (2000)
  • Michael Klinghoffer (1986–88)
  • Dana Calderwood (1989)
  • Angelika Bartenbach (1990–93)
  • Marc Summers (1992–93)
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Nickelodeon
Original network
Picture format NTSC (480i)
Original release
  • Original series
    October 6, 1986 (1986-10-06) – February 6, 1993 (1993-02-06)
  • Double Dare 2000
    January 22, 2000 (2000-01-22)
 – November 10, 2000 (2000-11-10)
External links

Double Dare is an American television game show where two teams compete to win cash and prizes by answering trivia questions and completing messy stunts known as physical challenges.

Hosted by Marc Summers, the program premiered on Nickelodeon on October 6, 1986 as Nickelodeon's first game show. A continuation for syndication premiered on February 22, 1988, later renamed Super Sloppy Double Dare and continuing until September 8, 1989. The program also had a short run on Fox as Family Double Dare, airing from April 3 to July 23, 1988. Nickelodeon continued Family Double Dare, premiering a new version on October 6, 1990. The original series ended on February 6, 1993. A later revival hosted by Jason Harris, titled Double Dare 2000, aired from January 22 to November 10, 2000.

Almost immediately after its debut, Double Dare had more than tripled viewership for Nickelodeon’s afternoon lineup, becoming the most watched original daily program on cable television. The program was a major success for Nickelodeon, helping establish the network as a player in cable and revitalize the genre of game shows for children. Double Dare remains Nickelodeon's longest-running game show. In January 2001, TV Guide ranked the show number 29 on its list of "50 Greatest Game Shows."


Main game[edit]

Each team on Double Dare and Super Sloppy Double Dare consisted of two children, while teams on Family Double Dare and Double Dare 2000 consisted of two adults and two children.[2] Originally, both teams wore red uniforms, but after Double Dare entered syndication in 1988, one team wore blue uniforms while the other wore red.

Each round began with a toss-up challenge in which both teams competed, with the winning team receiving both initial control of the round and money as shown below. After the toss-up, the host began asking trivia questions to the team in control. Each correct answer awarded money and allowed the team to maintain control, while an incorrect answer or a failure to respond within approximately ten seconds turned control over to the opponents.[3] However, the team could dare their opponents to answer the question, doubling its value; in response, the opponents could double dare for quadruple the original value. When the team in control received a double dare, they had to either answer or compete in a physical challenge. An incorrect answer or not responding within approximately five seconds on a dare or double dare awarded both control and the appropriate amount of money to the team that issued it.[4] The second round played the same as the first, with question values doubled. On Double Dare and Super Sloppy Double Dare, a question was initially worth $10. On Family Double Dare and Double Dare 2000, a question was initially worth $25.[5][6]

After the toss-up challenge at the start of the first round, the host explained the rules as follows:

I'm going to ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, or think the other team hasn't got a clue, you can dare them to answer it for double the dollars. But, be careful, because they can always double dare you back for four times the amount, and then you either have to answer that question or take the physical challenge.[7][8][9]

Physical challenges[edit]

A Family Double Dare physical challenge showing two teams sitting on balloons filled with whipped cream

Physical challenges were stunts, often messy,[2] that a team had to perform in a specified time, usually 20 or 30 seconds, although occasionally 10 or 15 seconds.[6] All physical challenges on Double Dare 2000 were 30 seconds in length, unless a time reduction was in play due to the Triple Dare Challenge.

Many challenges involved filling a container past a line with one of a variety of substances, including water, uncooked rice, green slime, whipped cream, and milk. Others involved catching a certain number of items before time ran out. For example, during "Pie in the Pants," a contestant had to catch a set number of pies in a pair of oversized clown pants within the specified time limit, while the teammate launched them from a foot-operated catapult at the opposite end of the stage.[5]

The team won money and retained control for completing the stunt. Otherwise, the money and control went to their opponents.[6]

On Double Dare and Super Sloppy Double Dare, both contestants of a team competed in all physical challenges. For the 1988 version of Family Double Dare, all four members of a team compete in the challenges. On the 1990–93 version of Family Double Dare and on Double Dare 2000, two members of a team competed in round one, and all four members competed in round two.

Double Dare 2000 introduced the Triple Dare Challenge. Available only in round two, this allowed a team to make their physical challenge more difficult, increasing its value by $100 and putting a bonus prize at stake. Difficulties included reducing the time limit, adding an extra item to the stunt, or increasing the overall difficulty of the stunt. The actual modifier was not revealed unless the team decided to accept the challenge. If the team did not successfully complete the challenge, the money, prize, and control went to their opponents.[2]

Obstacle course[edit]

The team with the highest score at the end of round two went on to the bonus round, the obstacle course (renamed the Slopstacle Course for Double Dare 2000). Regardless of the outcome, both teams kept all money earned.[5]

The course consisted of eight obstacles which had to be completed within 60 seconds. Each obstacle had an orange flag either at its end or hidden within it. One team member ran the first obstacle, then passed its flag to a partner, who then moved on to the next obstacle. The team continued to alternate in this manner until they completed the course or until time ran out. For safety reasons, team members were given helmets and elbow and knee pads to wear while running the course.[5]

Obstacles were frequently based on body parts, food and enlarged items found in daily life.[10] Popular elements of the obstacle course included The One-Ton Human Hamster Wheel, an oversized hamster wheel; Pick It, a giant human nose with a flag hidden inside; The Sundae Slide, a chocolate-covered ramp leading to a playground slide with ice cream; and Gum Drop, a gigantic gumball machine replica filled with plastic balls into which contestants would leap.[10][11]

The team won a prize for each obstacle completed, escalating in value up to a grand prize for completing the entire course. Two-person teams split the cash earnings and both contestants received an identical prize for each obstacle. Prizes included televisions, concert tickets, encyclopedias, gift certificates, non-motorized modes of transportation and, on the Fox Family Double Dare, cash.[6] On the original and Super Sloppy versions, the grand prize was usually a vacation or an experience at Space Camp. All eight prizes were usually worth a total between $3,000 and $4,000, with some episodes featuring a prize package nearing $10,000.[12] On the Fox Family Double Dare, as well as the first season of the Nickelodeon run, the grand prize was a vehicle, making all eight prizes worth between $15,000 and $25,000. The grand prize was once again a vacation for the second season of Nickelodeon's Family Double Dare.[5]


Hosts and personalities[edit]

Marc Summers served as host of Double Dare from 1986 to 1993.[13] John Harvey, known on-screen as Harvey, served as announcer from 1986 to 1992.[13] In order to spend time with his wife and his newborn son Caleb, Harvey did not announce the final season of Family Double Dare.[14] Doc Holliday became the announcer for the final season of Family Double Dare. Harvey made a cameo appearance on the final episode of the season and the series.[15] Jason Harris hosted Double Dare 2000, and Tiffany Phillips served as announcer for that version of the program.[2] Several stage assistants appeared on-camera and assisted in setting up physical challenges and obstacles, most notably Robin Marella, who worked the entire length of the original series. Other assistants included Dave Shikiar, Jamie Bojanowski, and Chris Miles.[11]

Production staff[edit]

Geoffrey Darby served as executive producer for all original versions of the program. Dana Calderwood and Hugh Martin directed most of the original series.[11] In 1992, Marc Summers became one of the show's producers.[16] All the original Double Dare music was composed by Edd Kalehoff.[17]

Eileen Braun, who worked on the original Double Dare as a production assistant and a production coordinator, was the executive producer for Double Dare 2000. Marc Summers advised production as an executive consultant.[2] The music for Double Dare 2000 was composed by former Crack the Sky guitarist Rick Witkowski.[18] Byron Taylor served as set designer for all versions of the series.[2]

Broadcast and production history[edit]


Marc Summers hosted Double Dare from 1986 to 1993.

In the mid-1980s, Nickelodeon was approached by production and consulting groups with the idea of doing a game show for children, a first for the network.[19] Nickelodeon conducted focus groups and concluded that children enjoyed watching game shows with adults, but they did not have a game show targeted at their demographic.[20][21][22] Dee LaDuke, Robert Mittenthal, Michael Klinghoffer, and Geoffrey Darby worked to develop a new format, basing it on a combination of trivia, Truth or dare?, and the board game Mouse Trap.[19] The pilot presentation was recorded in May 1986, hosted by Darby.[11] Double Dare was green-lighted and announced in June 1986.[23] Initial candidates to host the program included Soupy Sales and Dana Carvey,[21] but by September 1986, the role was awarded to Marc Summers.[19]

Production originated at the studios of PBS affiliate WHYY-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the 65-episode first season was recorded in a 23-day period beginning September 19, 1986.[24] Double Dare first aired on Nickelodeon on October 6, 1986, and new episodes aired Monday through Friday.[25] After the success of the first 65 episodes, a second 65-episode season was ordered.[6]

A weekend edition titled Super Sloppy Double Dare began taping in July 1987[6] and premiered August 2, 1987 with an initial 26-episode run.[26][27] Super Sloppy Double Dare featured gameplay identical to the original format; however, physical challenges and obstacles were designed to make a larger mess. Viewers were encouraged to send in a postcard with their contact information and could win a prize if their card was selected and a team performing a physical challenge completed the stunt successfully.[28][29] Episodes of Super Sloppy Double Dare were taped at Unitel Studio in New York, New York before production moved back to WHYY-TV.[30]

In July 1987, pilots hosted by Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner) were produced by Viacom for two possible versions of Double Dare with adult players: one pairing celebrities with contestants and another with married couples. Neither concept advanced to a full series.[31][32]

By November 1987, Fox announced they had partnered with Viacom to purchase the distribution rights for new episodes of the program in syndication.[33] New episodes of Double Dare aired on independent stations and affiliates of Fox beginning on February 22, 1988. There were 130 first-run syndication episodes in 1988.[5]

A 13-episode Saturday night edition titled Family Double Dare aired on Fox from April 3 to July 23, 1988. Teams on this version consisted of four family members, most often a mother and father and two children. The prize total featured during the obstacle course was more expensive than that featured on the Nickelodeon series.[34][35] Another 13 episodes of Family Double Dare were originally ordered, but Fox canceled the series shortly before production was to begin because of "creative differences." [36]

On January 5, 1989, production began on a new version of Super Sloppy Double Dare from Philadelphia at WHYY-TV, continuing in syndication.[37] The series premiered on January 22, 1989.[38] The second half of the series was produced at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, with production beginning in April 1989.[5][39] This version of the show recorded in larger studios with a larger set. The larger set allowed for a lower level devoted to physical challenges with a bigger size and, typically, bigger messes. There were many new obstacles in the obstacle course that were also larger. By the end of Super Sloppy Double Dare, the program was syndicated to 154 stations.[22] The series left syndication on September 8, 1989.[5]

Family Double Dare returned to Nickelodeon on August 13, 1990.[5] The original broadcasts were reruns of the Fox version, following which Nickelodeon launched its own version of Family Double Dare on weekends beginning October 6, 1990.[40] The cash obstacle was removed, but the car was retained as the grand prize, which was later replaced by a trip. Nickelodeon produced the series at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando. Production began in July 1990 and ended in July 1992, taping 80 episodes over two seasons.[5][41] Between the production cycles of Family Double Dare, two special episodes of Double Dare were recorded in January 1992: NBA All-Star Double Dare with NBA alumni and Super Special Double Dare with members of the casts of Clarissa Explains It All and Welcome Freshmen.[42] Family Double Dare concluded on February 6, 1993 with a one-hour Tournament of Champions episode.[5] Physical challenges from Double Dare appeared on Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge, a three-part special combining elements from many of Nickelodeon's game shows, airing on October 3, 1994.[43]

Repeats of the original Double Dare continued to air on Nickelodeon until March 15, 1991 [5] and returned to Nickelodeon's schedule again from June 12 to September 30, 1994.[44][45] Repeats of Family Double Dare remained on the Nickelodeon schedule until January 31, 1999.[46] At this time, development began for the revival that would become Double Dare 2000.[47]

After starting production earlier in the month, Double Dare 2000 broadcast its first episode on January 22, 2000, now hosted by Jason Harris. 41 episodes were filmed in January 2000, with an additional 26 taped later that same year in July. Double Dare 2000 followed the Family Double Dare format with a revamped set and bigger physical challenges. It also featured the new Triple Dare Challenge option in round two and referred to the obstacle course as the Slopstacle Course.[2] In association with Sony and National Mobile Television, five episodes of Double Dare 2000 were produced in high-definition with a 16:9 aspect ratio.[48] The episodes were broadcast in a 4:3 letterboxed format as Nickelodeon did not broadcast in high-definition until 2008.[49] The series concluded on November 10, 2000.[5] Repeats remained on the Nickelodeon schedule until July 29, 2001.[50]

Double Dare has spawned versions in foreign countries throughout the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, India and Brazil.[51] Repeats of all versions of Double Dare aired in various cycles on Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids from the network's inception in 1999 until its shutdown in 2009.[2] Since 2011, Double Dare has been incorporated into the branding of TeenNick's classic Nickelodeon blocks The '90s Are All That, and its successor, The Splat. Episodes of Double Dare have occasionally aired on the blocks.[52][53]


Double Dare logo used since 2012 for live productions

In April 2012, it was announced that the Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando in Orlando would be reviving Double Dare as a nightly live stage presentation, Double Dare Live.[54] As part of the "Studio Nick" feature of the hotel, shows are performed each night for families staying in the hotel. The show features elements and updates from the various versions of Double Dare, including remixed music, physical challenges and an obstacle course featuring obstacles, old and new, from Double Dare. Like the most recent formats of the program, eight contestants are selected to participate for the game-playing teams while additional audience members play additional physical challenges throughout the program. Previews of Double Dare Live began on May 21, 2012 with an official launch date of May 25. Participation in the program was exclusive to the hotel's guests. The production continued until Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando rebranded as a Holiday Inn on June 1, 2016.[55]

On July 22, 2016, special live editions of Double Dare produced by Nickelodeon and The Splat took place at Fluxx nightclub during San Diego Comic-Con 2016.[56] The event was live-streamed on The Splat's Facebook page. The week of July 25, 2016, The Splat aired a Double Dare-themed week featuring episodes and moments from the series' history and included edited versions of the Comic-Con games. These events marked original host Marc Summers' first Nickelodeon-sponsored involvement with the brand since Double Dare 2000.[53]

On October 6, 2016, Nickelodeon announced that Double Dare would be returning to television for a half-hour commemorative special celebrating the 30th anniversary of the show's premiere. The Double Dare Reunion Special aired on November 23, 2016 on Nick at Nite, with a special encore airing on The Splat. The special included vintage footage, behind-the-scenes footage, and the new game recorded at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 played by cast members from All That. Marc Summers, announcer Harvey and stage assistant Robin Russo (née Marella) appeared in the special.[57]

The Double Dare Reunion Special was watched by 1.126 million viewers on Nick at Nite, outperforming all other shows on the network for the evening and finishing as the third-most viewed of all non-sports original cable telecasts among viewers ages 18 to 34 for that day.[58] In February 2017, Summers began stating that due to the success of the special, he is in negotiations to come back to Double Dare in a revival on Nickelodeon, possibly as a version with adult contestants on Nick at Nite.[59][60]

Reception and achievements[edit]

Ratings and impact[edit]

Within a month of its premiere, Double Dare had more than tripled viewership for Nickelodeon’s afternoon schedule and had become the highest-rated original daily program on cable.[2][61] During Double Dare's first year, the program averaged a 3.0 household Nielsen rating, with over 1 million households tuned in each week.[6] Upon its February 1988 debut in syndication, the program averaged a 5.4 household Nielsen rating and a 15.4 rating among children ages 2 to 11,[62] and was the second-highest rated syndicated program in that demographic.[63] By January 1989, Double Dare averaged a 3.1 household Nielsen rating.[64] The premiere episode of Family Double Dare on Fox on April 3, 1988 scored a 4.0 household Nielsen rating, finishing 5th out of 10 programs broadcast on Fox that week[65][66] and helping to give Fox's Sunday night schedule its highest ratings to that point.[67]

When Double Dare 2000 premiered in January 2000, episodes in its first two weeks averaged household Nielsen ratings up to 3.0, finishing in the top 25 basic cable programs each week.[68][69] Double Dare 2000 frequently won its timeslot in viewership among children ages 2 to 11.[70]

At its peak, Double Dare was the highest rated live-action show for children ages 8 to 15.[22] The show was also popular with college students, with multiple schools offering Double Dare fan clubs.[6] Half of Nickelodeon's operating profit in 1988 came from the prosperity of Double Dare and its syndication. [71] On the show's success, senior vice president of Nickelodeon programming Herb Scannell said that Double Dare was like "having a hit record your first time out. Double Dare put Nick on the map."[72]

Double Dare revitalized interest in the concept of a game show for children.[2] Less than a year after the program launched, NBC had premiered I'm Telling!,[6] Lorimar Television had announced plans for Fun House and Nickelodeon's Finders Keepers began airing—all shows based on competition between teams of children.[20] Also during Double Dare's first year on television, junior versions of established game shows including Hollywood Squares and The Cross-Wits were developed for syndication but ultimately were not produced.[73] Game show executive and producer Bob Boden noted that Double Dare "allowed kids to get dirty and have a good time in ways that really were not acceptable before that show."[72] Double Dare remains the longest-running game show produced by Nickelodeon.[53]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviews of the show were often favorable, noting it was fun entertainment for the family. After Double Dare premiered, Kenneth R. Clark, media writer for The Chicago Tribune, observed that when contestants "squeal and make faces, it is somehow natural, wholesome and infectious," and said "Double Dare is so refreshing."[74] Noel Holston of The Minneapolis Star and Tribune wrote that "kids and game shows, when you think about it, go together like hot fudge and ice cream." [75] Some criticism came from the idea that the program was not educational in merit and children were linked to commercialism.[6][76] Others were concerned about the waste of food products like beans and eggs in physical challenges and obstacles.[19][77] In 1989, television and film critic Jeffrey Lyons wrote that he "wouldn't dream of proclaiming that Super Sloppy Double Dare is good for your child. But what's wrong with watching an admittedly dumb—but hilarious—program just for fun?" [78]

Double Dare was nominated for a CableACE Award in the category of Game Show Special or Series in 1989 and 1992, winning the award in 1989.[79][80] Dana Calderwood was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series in 1989.[81] In January 2001, TV Guide ranked the show number 29 on its list of "50 Greatest Game Shows." [82]

Merchandise and promotions[edit]

Reebok was a major sponsor of Double Dare throughout its run. Every contestant and stage crew member wore a pair of the company's shoes.[83]

From 1987 to 1995, various Double Dare live tours visited venues around the United States. Featuring a format similar to the TV show wherein members of a live local audience could participate, the tour would later incorporate aspects of What Would You Do?, another show hosted by Summers for Nickelodeon.[84] The tours and events resumed in 2000 to promote Double Dare 2000.[85]

Double Dare's lasting popularity has led to a variety of products being made available. Pressman Toy Corporation released two traditional board games based on the show: The Double Dare home game was released in September 1987[86] and Wet 'N Wild Double Dare was released in early 1989.[87] Another board game titled Double Dare: The Game was manufactured by Mattel in 2001.[88] GameTek published a PC game in 1988[89] and a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 based on the program.[90] Containing facts about the show, along with trivia and activities to host a home version of the game, two editions of The Double Dare Game Book were released by Parachute Press in 1988 and 1989.[13][91] Based on substances referenced on Double Dare and Double Dare 2000, Mattel and Jakks Pacific manufactured a series of toy slimes called Gak and Goooze.[70][92] Other toys, apparel, lunchboxes and school supplies have been sold featuring the show's logo and art.[83]

Double Dare was heavily featured in the summer 2016 "Remember When" promotion at New York concept store STORY. Their partnership with Nickelodeon offered exclusive in-store products like Double Dare t-shirts and other goods designed in the style of the program's themes. Patrons at STORY could also participate in Double Dare experiences, like running the One-Ton Human Hamster Wheel obstacle. Additionally, other Double Dare-inspired products available in-store, including Keds shoes and Stance socks, were offered online through retail partner Neiman Marcus.[93]

Four collections of Double Dare highlights and special features were released on home video: Double Dare: The Inside Scoop and Double Dare: The Messiest Moments were released by Kids Klassics on October 1, 1988.[94] On October 17, 1989, a home party guide titled How to Throw a Double Dare Party was released by Elektra Video.[95] Sony Wonder released Double Dare: Super Sloppiest Moments on May 31, 1994.[96]

Collections of episodes of the original Super Sloppy Double Dare and versions of Family Double Dare were made available for purchase via digital distribution on Amazon Video and iTunes Store throughout 2013.[97][98] A DVD titled Nickelodeon Games and Sports: All-Star Collection, released by Nickelodeon for on April 27, 2015, features an episode of the original Super Sloppy Double Dare and Family Double Dare.[99]


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External links[edit]