Hot Potato (game show)
|(Celebrity) Hot Potato|
|Written by||Scott Wyant|
|Directed by||Richard S. Kline|
|Presented by||Bill Cullen|
|Narrated by||Charlie O'Donnell|
|Theme music composer||Hal Hidey|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||115|
|Executive producer(s)||Jack Barry
|Running time||30 Minutes|
|Production company(s)||Barry & Enright Productions|
|Original release||January 23 – June 29, 1984|
Hot Potato is a television game show that was broadcast on NBC in the United States from January 23 to June 29, 1984. From April 23 until its conclusion, the show was known as Celebrity Hot Potato.
The series was produced by Barry & Enright Productions, the company's first for NBC since the company was a central figure in the 1950s quiz show scandals. Hot Potato was the first game mounted for a network by Barry & Enright since 1976's Break the Bank aired on ABC, the last one the company did not produce exclusively for syndication, and the last original production Jack Barry was a part of; he died on May 2, 1984, a little more than a week after Hot Potato made the switch to the celebrity format.
Two teams of three players competed, one of which consisted of the previous game's champions. The members of each team shared a common trait (hobby, occupation, etc.). All questions used during the main game had at least seven correct answers. Some were trivia questions with a set number of factual answers - for example, naming the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - while others required the players to guess the most common responses to a survey.
In each round, Cullen asked a question and stated the number of acceptable answers. One member of the team with initial control started by either giving an answer or challenging an opponent to do so. If the player gave a correct answer, control passed to the next team member in line. An incorrect response sent the player to a bench behind the team's podium, where he/she had to sit out the rest of the round, and gave control to the opposing team. If an opponent responded correctly after being challenged, his/her team took control and the challenging player was eliminated. If not, the opponent was eliminated and control passed to the player after the one who issued the challenge.
As the players gave correct answers, they were displayed on-screen for the viewers' benefit. Once five answers had been given, Cullen would read them back to the players. A player would be cautioned if he/she repeated a previous answer; doing so twice on the same turn sent him/her to the bench.
A team could win a round either by giving the seventh correct answer (regardless of who gave the first six), or by eliminating all three opponents through successful challenges and/or their own mistakes. The first team to win two rounds won $1,000, took/retained the championship, and advanced to the bonus round. The champions started the first round (and the third, if necessary), while the challengers started the second.
A "Seven Straight Jackpot" was later offered to any team that gave seven correct answers in a row without making a mistake or challenging. The jackpot started at $500 and increased by that amount for each match it was not won. This bonus was discontinued the day the format became Celebrity Hot Potato.
The winning team was given a subject of comparison (e.g., which weighs more, who has been married more times, etc.) and shown two possible choices. The team discussed the choices and then selected one of them. Each correct response awarded $500; a mistake at any time ended the round and forfeited the accumulated money. The team could pass on one question, and could stop at any point and keep the money. If they answered five questions correctly, they won a jackpot that began at $5,000 and increased by that amount for every game in which it went unclaimed. The jackpot reset to $5,000 whenever a defending champion team was defeated in the main game.
Hot Potato suffered, as many games did when airing in the 12:00 Noon slot, from many NBC affiliates preempting the show in favor of local newscasts. The show was hurt further by being up against Family Feud on ABC, and in some markets The Young and the Restless on CBS.
On April 23, 1984 the show became Celebrity Hot Potato. From that point until the show's cancellation, teams consisted of one contestant and two celebrity players. Each set of four celebrities appeared on the show for one week, and the team assignments of the celebrities were shuffled after each game in order to maintain variety (usually, one celebrity from the champion's team would remain in place, while the other switched places with one of the celebrities on the challenger's team). A few weeks were played where all three players on a team were celebrities (usually sharing a common bond, such as comedians or stars of a particular TV series]), with their winnings going to various charities.
On July 2, Hot Potato was replaced by repeats of Diff'rent Strokes, which had ended its sixth season on the network a month earlier. The repeats in turn only ran until September 21, with the game show replacing it – Super Password – lasting over four and a half years at Noon.