Dream House (game show)

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Dream House
Dream House (game show).jpg
Created by Don Reid
Directed by Alan Mifelow (1968–70)
Dick Schneider (1968–70)
Jeff Goldstein (1983–84)
Creative director(s) Charles Colarusso (Creative Consultant, 1983)
Richard Reid (Creative Consultant, 1983–84)
Presented by Mike Darrow (1968–70)
Bob Eubanks (1983–84)
Narrated by Chet Gould (1968–70)
Johnny Gilbert (1983–84)
Composer(s) Don Reid (1968–70)
Edd Kalehoff (1983–84)
Country of origin  United States
Executive producer(s) Don Reid
Bob Ruben (1983)
Bob Synes (1984)
Producer(s) Ron Greenberg (1968–70)
Ron Kweskin (1968–70)
George Vosburgh (1968–70)
Bob Synes (1983)
Lee Goldstein (1983)
Peter Noah (1983)
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California (1983–84)
Running time approx. 26 minutes
Production company(s) Don Reid Productions (1968–70, 1983–84)
ABC Productions (1968–70)
Group W Productions (1983–84)
Lorimar Television (1984)
Original network ABC Daytime (1968–70)[1]
ABC Primetime (1968)[1]
NBC (1983–84)[1]
Original release March 27–September 19, 1968 (Primetime)
April 1, 1968–January 2, 1970
April 4, 1983 – June 29, 1984

Dream House is an American game show that saw contestants competing to win, as the title of the show indicates, a new house.[1] The show originally premiered in primetime on ABC on March 27, 1968, with a daytime edition premiering on April 1, 1968. The primetime series aired weekly until September 19, 1968 and the daytime series aired daily until January 2, 1970.[1] The daytime series was revived for NBC's daytime schedule and premiered on April 4, 1983, running until June 29, 1984.[1]

The original Dream House was hosted by Mike Darow[1] with Chet Gould announcing.[1] Bob Eubanks hosted the revival series[1] with Johnny Gilbert[1] as announcer. The ABC version was recorded in New York City,[1] while the NBC run was staged at the network's studios in Burbank, California.[1]


The first format involved two couples competing in a game of quick recall. The first contestant to buzz-in answered and received five points for a correct response. If the contestant was wrong, however, the other couple could try to answer for ten points. When a contestant gave a correct answer, he or she was locked out of the next question.[1]

Two minutes before the end of the game, which lasted from four to five minutes, the point values doubled,[1] and at the end was the "Catch-Up Round" in which the team that was trailing could choose one last question from 10 to 50 points (if they answered correctly, the other couple got one last shot).[1] The winning couple won a room of furniture.

Couples who won seven rooms of furniture on the daytime version (four on the 1968 primetime version) won their choice of either a new house (worth over $40,000, plus $7,000 to purchase land)[1] or $20,000 in cash.

Beginning in 1969, three couples competed in the first round in which the first couple to buzz-in with a correct answer scored five points. A wrong answer, however, gave the other couples a chance to score ten points. Only during that first round would all contestants be allowed to buzz-in on all questions. The points were doubled during the last two minutes of the round. The two highest-scoring couples advanced to the next round, played exactly the same as the previous two-couple format. Five-time champions were offered an airplane in lieu of attempting to win two more games.


Main Game[edit]

Two teams of two (usually married couples), one of them a returning champion, competed to win a house worth approximately $100,000.

The host read a true or false toss-up question, with a correct answer giving that couple $50 and control of a question board of four categories. Each category had a multiple-choice question with three possible answers. After the couple gave their answer, the opponents had the option to challenge and select a different one. The couple with the right answer won $100, or $150 in the event of an unsuccessful challenge. Each team could challenge twice during the round. Once a category had been played, it was removed from the board and a new toss-up was asked. The round continued until all four categories had been used.

The game was played in two rounds, with the leader after the first round winning a prize. The second round was played the same as round one, except that each team had a one-time opportunity to double the value of the question before the question was asked. The couple leading after two rounds won the game, received a room of furniture, and advanced to the bonus round. Couples kept whatever they earned, win or lose. Should the game end in a tie, one more true or false question was played to break the tie.

During the show's 15-month NBC run, special weeks were set aside for siblings, single couples with children and engaged couples. There was also a week in November 1983 where the cast of Diff'rent Strokes played for a designated couple, as well as one from May 1984 in which two different celebrity teams played for charity each day.

Rule changes[edit]

Several rule changes went into effect in April 1984. The couple in control was required to hit their plunger to determine the question value displayed on a "money machine", a random light which stopped at $50, $100, or $150. The amount could also be accompanied with "Prize," which awarded a bonus prize to the team that answered correctly, or "Turnover," which gave control of the question to the opposing team. In the second round, a "Number Off" space was added to the machine, which allowed the team who answered correctly to remove one extra number from the combination lock if they reached the bonus round. Also, if the winning team led by $500–$950 after two rounds, they originally received a prize, but this was later changed to a $500 bonus. Winning by $1,000 or more was worth a new car. Unlike the first format, there was no double option available in round two.

Bonus round[edit]

In the bonus round, the couple tried to open a set of "Golden Doors" by programming the correct combination into the electronic lock that kept the doors closed. The lock consisted three rows of four numbers each, and only one of the numbers in each of the three rows was part of the combination. To narrow the odds, the couple attempted to remove the incorrect numbers from the lock.

Originally, each day that a couple reached the bonus round, one incorrect number was automatically removed from the lock (starting with one from the top row, then one on the middle row, and finally one in the bottom row). This was later changed to having one number removed for each time the couple returned, thus depriving them of having one eliminated on their first day. A couple could also have a number removed if they had landed on "Number Off" on the Money Machine once the format for the front game was changed.

After the initial removal of numbers, the couple then faced three questions from a category of their choice, with each question having two possible answers. Answering correctly knocked another number off the lock, and as before the numbers were removed in order from top to bottom.

After the questions, the couple entered their guess at the combination. Once a number was chosen, it could not be changed. After making their guess, the couple pressed a button referred to as a "time release bar," which caused a series of four lights built into the frame of the Golden Doors to activate from the bottom up. If the combination was correct, all the lights came on, the Golden Doors opened, and the couple won the house. If not, the topmost section remained dark, a buzzer sounded, and the host revealed the correct combination.

Champions returned to face the Golden Doors each day until they either programmed the winning combination, won enough games to automatically win the house, or were defeated by another couple. Seven victories were initially required to win the house; this threshold was later lowered to five, then raised to six. In a match where a couple was in a position to win the house if they won the main game, a plunger alternately called a "Golden Circuit Breaker" and a "Hotline Switch" was brought out at the beginning of the second round. If the couple won, the plunger was pushed after the match and the Golden Doors automatically opened.

Any couple that won the house — either by guessing the combination or by winning the requisite number of games — retired undefeated, and two new couples competed on the next show.

Broadcast history[edit]


Replacing reruns of the cult crime drama The Fugitive (an unusual offering on daytime television), Dream House began on April 1, 1968 at 1:00 PM (12:00 Central); its competition depended on each local market, as both NBC and CBS went down for a half-hour in order for their affiliates to run newscasts, homemakers' or farm shows, or syndicated programming.

ABC used the show as a promotional device – questions were frequently about the network's shows and stars, and Monty Hall appeared in December 1968 to promote the move of his Let's Make a Deal from NBC to ABC.[1]

The show did not end due to its competition (or at least not directly) – in a summer 1969 article, TV Guide reported that none of the houses given away on the series at that point had been completed; further, the article revealed that some winning couples had to borrow considerably more than the $7,000 the show awarded for the purchase of land. Shortly after this article was published, Dream House began offering the option of $20,000 in lieu of the house, but the damage had already been done and the ratings began to decline.

The controversies and bad publicity resulting from houses that remained unbuilt or half-finished for various reasons may have caused ABC to view the whole situation as a headache. The network pulled Dream House two days into 1970, replacing it with the debut of the long-running soap All My Children.


NBC gave Dream House the 11:30 AM (10:30 Central) slot on April 4, 1983, replacing the 13-week game show Hit Man. Airing opposite the second half of The Price is Right on CBS and Loving on ABC, the series ran for over a year, and ended on June 29, 1984. The following Monday, NBC introduced a television adaptation of the board game Scrabble, which ran for nearly six years.

Episode status[edit]

The studio master tapes of the 1968-70 version were perhaps all wiped by ABC; this was the standard practice with its daytime programs prior to the year 1978, although the TV Guide article on the show might have also played a role in this fact.[1] At least one kinescoped episode of the 1968-70 version is available on YouTube; however, it's in black and white instead of color.

In 2013, it was reported that the studio master tapes of the 1983–84 version, which were in the possession of series creator Don Reid, were destroyed by a flood.[2] It is unlikely either incarnation of the show will ever air on television again, as a result of both the damages and (as stated earlier) of then-current network practice; however, several complete episodes of the 1983-84 version have been posted on YouTube.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Schwartz, David; Steve Ryan; Fred Wostbrock (1999). "Dream House". The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3rd ed.). Facts on File. p. 64. ISBN 0-8160-3847-3. 
  2. ^ "Facebook post by TVPMM". Facebook. Museum of Television Production Music. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2014. Just confirmed that all 395 episodes from 1983/84 Dream House videotape masters were destroyed in a flood with production materials/music.