Hit Man (U.S. game show)

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Hit Man
Hit Man.jpg
Created by Jay Wolpert
Directed by John "The Fox" Dorsey
Presented by Peter Tomarken
Narrated by Rod Roddy
Theme music composer Paul Epstein for Score Productions
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 65
Executive producer(s) Jay Wolpert
Producer(s) Roger Speakman
Randy Neece
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running time 22 minutes (without commercials)
Production company(s) Jay Wolpert Productions
Metromedia Video Productions
Original network NBC
Original release January 3 – April 1, 1983

Hit Man is an American television game show that ran from January 3 to April 1, 1983, on NBC. Peter Tomarken hosted this Jay Wolpert production in association with Metromedia Video Productions, while Rod Roddy was the announcer.


Four contestants competed on each episode of Hit Man in a memory-based quiz game. One was either a returning champion or champion-designate, with the other three contestants competing for the right to face the champion in the second round. The surviving contestant at the end of two rounds of play played the Triple Crown bonus round for $10,000.

Round 1[edit]

Each game of Hit Man began with the three challengers, who were sitting behind desks colored blue, yellow, and green, viewing a short film narrated by Tomarken. Film topics varied widely and included biographies, the "making-of" specific films, professions, hobbies, etc. The film was also shown to the returning champion offstage, since the subject matter would later come up in the Triple Crown if he/she advanced to the round.

After the film concluded, a series of tossup questions were asked to the challengers about the film they had just seen. For each correct answer the challengers gave, he or she advanced one step on a ladder displayed behind them. Answering a question incorrectly locked a contestant out of the next question.

It took five answers to climb to the top of the ladder, and the first contestant to do this won $300 and clinched a spot in the second round. The remaining two contestants continued playing until one of them gave a fifth correct answer, and that contestant won $200 and ended the round. The remaining contestant was eliminated from further play and received parting gifts.

Round 2[edit]

For the second round, the champion entered the game and sat behind a red desk that was elevated. A second short film was played. After the film concluded, each contestant was given a series of "hit men". The champion was given seven hit men, the winner of the first round got four, and the second finisher was given three hit men, with each player's hit men corresponding to the color of their desk.

As before, a series of tossup questions pertaining to the film were asked. The object for all three players was to eliminate the opposing hit men, with the champion trying to eliminate both challengers while avoiding losing his/her own hit men. The winner of the first round was given a choice of whether to play against the champion first or allow the runner up to play.

Any correct answer knocked an opponent's hit man off the board, while any incorrect answer cost a player one of their own. If the champion lost a hit man, the challenging player kept control until either eliminating all of the champion's hit men or having one of their own hit men eliminated. Once the latter happened, control passed to the other player. If at any point a challenger ran out of hit men, that player was eliminated from further play and the game continued.

If the champion managed to eliminate the challengers' hit men first, he/she retained the championship and advanced to the Triple Crown. If the champion lost all of his/her hit men, the challenger who knocked the last hit man off the board became champion.

Triple Crown[edit]

A contestant about to start the Triple Crown bonus round.

A gameboard of eight columns was displayed, each with a varying number of circles inside: one column held one circle; two columns held two circles; two columns held three circles; two columns held four circles; and the final column held five circles. The contestant's back was then turned toward the board so that he or she could not see the number of circles in each column, and the columns were randomly re-ordered.

The contestant called out a column, the 60-second countdown started and the host asked a question based upon either of the two stories heard that day. If the contestant's answer was correct, the first circle in the column changed to a "money man" and the host asked another question. The process continued until all circles within the column were converted to money men. However, if the contestant passed or gave an incorrect answer, play stopped for that column and the contestant was required to call another column.

The process continued until time expired. The contestant won money for completing each column: $1,000 for the first, $2,000 for the second and $10,000 for the third.

Broadcast History[edit]

Hit Man premiered as one of three new game shows on NBC's daytime schedule, along with the new Just Men! and a revival of Sale of the Century, that the network commissioned to replace the cancelled serials Texas and The Doctors. Hit Man and its lead-in program, Wheel of Fortune, were moved to the slot Texas had occupied, with Hit Man airing at 11:30 AM Eastern.

Although NBC was drawing better ratings in the hour, Hit Man suffered from ratings trouble against the second half of The Price Is Right on CBS and reruns of The Love Boat on ABC and the network did not renew the series beyond its original sixty-five episode commitment. The show was replaced by Dream House, with Bob Eubanks at the helm.

The show has never been rerun even in syndication since its cancellation, although some clips of the show are available for viewing on YouTube.

Peter Tomarken gained greater fame five months later with his best known game show, Press Your Luck, which ran for three years on CBS. Rod Roddy reunited with Tomarken as the announcer of Press Your Luck, but later earned greater fame in his own right in 1986, when he became Johnny Olson's permanent replacement as announcer on The Price Is Right. Roddy would hold this position until his death in 2003.


The series finale of Hit Man aired on April 1, 1983; it had Gene Kelly and United States Vice Presidents as its subjects. Future game show announcer Randy West defeated then-champion Sheila and won $1,000 in the Triple Crown.

After the final commercial break, Roddy substituted the traditional contestant plug with "If you would like to be a contestant on Hit Man, forget it! And now, back to Peter Tomarken!" Afterward, Tomarken explained what Roddy just said.

Other versions[edit]

A British version of Hitman was aired on ITV in 1989 between February 21 to May 30. It was presented by Nick Owen.

Portugal had a version of Hit Man called Babylon.

External links[edit]