Now You See It (American game show)

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Now You See It
NYSI 89 opening title.PNG
Created byFrank Wayne
Directed byPaul Alter (1974–75)
Marc Breslow (1974–75)
Andrew Felsher (1989)
Presented byJack Narz
Chuck Henry
Narrated byJohnny Olson
Mark Driscoll
Don Morrow
Theme music composerQuincy Jones, Bill Cosby
Opening themeChump Change
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2 (1974–75 version)
1 (1989 version)
No. of episodes308 (1974–75 version)
75 (1989 version)
Executive producer(s)Frank Wayne (1974–75)
Jonathan Goodson (1989)
Producer(s)Buck D'Amore (1974–75)
Gary Dawson (1989)
Andrew Felsher (co-producer, 1989)
Production location(s)Television City Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time22–26 minutes
Production company(s)Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1974-1975)
Mark Goodson Television Productions (1989)
Original networkCBS
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseApril 1, 1974 (1974-04-01) – June 13, 1975 (1975-06-13)
April 3, 1989 (1989-04-03) –
July 14, 1989 (1989-07-14)

Now You See It is an American television game show created by Frank Wayne for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. The object of Now You See It is to answer general knowledge trivia questions by finding the answers hidden in a grid, similar to a word search puzzle.

Two seasons were produced, both of which aired on CBS. The first series ran from April 1, 1974, until June 13, 1975, and was hosted by Jack Narz. Johnny Olson was the original announcer, with Gene Wood substituting on occasion. The second series ran from April 3 until July 14, 1989, and was emceed by Los Angeles news anchor Chuck Henry. Los Angeles disc jockey Mark Driscoll announced for the first month of the 1989 season, with Don Morrow replacing him for the remainder of the run.


1970s version[edit]

Format #1[edit]

An elimination round in progress.

The first round of Now You See It under its original format began with four new contestants split into two teams, each with one "outside" and one "inside" contestant. This round, called the Elimination Round, was played on an electronic game board on the opposite side of the stage from the contestant desks. The board consisted of four numbered lines, with fourteen letters in each line. The letters were referred to as "positions" for scoring purposes. The board was shown to the contestants momentarily, then quickly turned off before any of them could fully memorize it.

To start the round, the "outside" contestants turned their backs to the board as Narz read a question. The first "inside" contestant to buzz in would say which line the correct answer appeared on. If the correct line was given, it remained lit and the "outside" contestant for that team turned around to give the position of the first letter of the word, then give the answer that Narz was looking for; the entire response would therefore be in the form of "line x, position y, word." If the wrong line was guessed, the other team got a free guess.

Words were not scored by length. Instead, the position of the word's first letter was added to the number of the line it was on to determine a team's score. For instance, a word that started in the first position of the first line (line one, position one) would be worth two points, whereas a word on the same line but with the first letter in the eighth position (line one, position eight) would be worth nine points. Halfway through the round, a bell would ring and the teammates would switch seats. This occurred after six questions had been asked; after another six were asked, the bell rang again and the team that was in the lead when it rang the second time won the Elimination Round.

The winning team advanced to the Semi-Finals, where they competed against each other for the right to play in the Finals. In this portion of the game, a second board with sixteen positions was used.[1] Narz read a crossword-style clue, after which the letters of the answer were filled in one at a time as he said "letter." The contestants could buzz in at any time if they felt they knew the answer. If a contestant buzzed in and gave an incorrect answer, the opponent was given a free guess. If he/she too came up with a wrong answer, play continued until either one of the contestants guessed the word, at which point all of its remaining letters were revealed, or only one letter was left in the word, at which point it would be revealed if neither of the contestants got it. The next word's clue was then given, and more letters were added; the start of each new word always overlapped the end of the previous one by at least one letter. If the row became too full to accommodate any more words, it was cleared before the next clue was read.

Whoever guessed four words out of seven correctly won the round and a prize package, in addition to moving on to face the champion. During the first two weeks, no prize package was given to the winner. Also, during the third week, it took five words out of nine to win the round; this would become permanent when the second format was introduced.

The Finals was played the same way as the Elimination Round, except with single contestants. The contestant who had more points when time ran out won the game and played the Solo Game for a chance at a cash jackpot. In the first show of the series, in the finals, the contestant who scored blocked the other contestant and would be allowed to keep answering questions until he/she missed one. If the other contestant then guessed right, that person took control. If both contestants missed the answer, the next question was a toss-up to determine control. After the first episode, this format was abandoned and all words were played as toss-ups.

Beginning with the 101st episode and continuing until the adoption of the second main game format, contestants were asked to scan the board and write down one word from the board each on an index card at the beginning of each half of the Elimination Round and the Finals. A contestant or team would earn 10 bonus points if they correctly answered a question with one of their "bonus words." The contestant had to reveal his/her bonus word immediately upon using it in order to score the points.

Format #2[edit]

Beginning with the 186th episode and for the rest of the show's run, the format of the main game was changed. The Elimination Round was dropped altogether, and the team format went with it. Now, two new contestants began each game playing the Qualifying Round, which was similar to the previous format's semi-finals with the exception that five words were required to win the round instead of four.

The winner of the Qualifying Round played the day's returning champion in the renamed Championship Round, which kept the same line/position form of scoring. However, instead of being a race against time, the Championship Round was a race to achieve a score of one hundred points. The normal scoring format was used until someone reached fifty points. Once that happened, the bell rang to indicate it and each word played after that was worth double the points. Whoever reached 100 points won the game and the championship and got to play the Solo Game for the jackpot.

The change in format meant that episodes of Now You See It were no longer self-contained and could straddle between episodes, and an episode could end with a game in progress that would have to be continued on the next program. Also, if a champion won the jackpot in the Solo Game and retired, the opponent he/she had defeated in the Championship Round came back to play again in the Championship Round of the following game.

1989 version[edit]

Like the second portion of the original run, the 1989 edition of Now You See It pitted two competitors in a qualifying round to determine who would advance to the championship round to face the returning champion or a champion-designate if there was no returning champion. The game, however, was conducted in a different manner. The most notable change was that made to the scoring system, as the contestants no longer had to name the correct line and position to score. Instead, the contestants only had to name the line and then the word. There was also no physical game board as there had been on the previous series, with the producers opting instead for a computer generated game board.

The qualifying round was played in two parts. In the first part, a clue to the word was given. The point value for the word decreased by five points from a starting value of 100 for every third of a second no one rang in. If the value reached 25 points, host Chuck Henry would tell the contestants what line the word was on. In the second part of the round, a new board was played and the point values doubled. The first contestant to reach 1,000 points advanced to the championship round while the losing contestant went home with parting gifts.

In the championship round each board was worth money, beginning at $200 and increasing by $100 for each additional board until someone won the game. Each board had a specific category for it and six words fitting that category on it. Henry read a clue for one of the words, and the first contestant to buzz in and correctly locate it was given twenty seconds to find the other five words. Doing so won the value of the board, but if the contestant could not do this the opposing contestant got a chance to steal by finding just one of the remaining words within five seconds. Doing so won the opponent the money attached to the board; otherwise, the money stayed with the first contestant.

The round continued until one of the contestants reached $1,000. The first contestant to get there became champion, kept the money, and advanced to the Solo Game.

With the change in format, games could no longer straddle between episodes.

Solo Game (both versions)[edit]

In the Solo Game, the champion was given one minute to find ten words on a brand new board. The champion viewed the board on a telestrator screen. On the original Now You See It, the Solo Game board was the same one used in the Semi-final/Qualifying Round and the screen was embedded in Jack Narz's podium. On the revival series, a separate podium was used and, as in the rest of the show, the board was computer-generated.

After each clue was given, the contestant sought out the word and circled it with an electronic pencil on the screen once he/she found it. Passing was allowed if a contestant got stuck on a word, and if time permitted the champion could play those words again once all ten clues were given. Finding all ten words before time ran out won the contestant the jackpot. If not, $100 was given for each word that had been found before time expired.

On both series, the Solo Game's jackpot started at $5,000. For each unsuccessful playing on the original Now You See It, the jackpot increased by $1,000 and, if the pot reached $25,000, it froze there until it was won. Any contestant that won the Solo Game retired immediately as champion and the loser of the final round became the champion-designate for the next show/match (depending on the format; as noted above the change resulted in games that straddled episodes). A contestant was not limited as champion otherwise; champions played until they were defeated or won the Solo Game.

On the 1989 revival, each unsuccessful Solo Game added $5,000 to the jackpot. Winning the jackpot did not automatically retire a champion on this series, but a contestant was limited to five consecutive match wins before retiring. The highest jackpot won was $50,000.

Production information[edit]


Both versions used the instrumental theme "Chump Change," composed by Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby. For a brief period, the 1970s version used an alternate theme written by Edd Kalehoff.

Broadcast history[edit]


The first version ran from April 1, 1974[2] to June 13, 1975 at 11:00 AM (10:00 Central) with Jack Narz hosting, replacing The $10,000 Pyramid, which moved to ABC one month after its CBS cancellation. Initially, it did well against Alex Trebek's American debut on NBC (The Wizard of Odds) but, three months later, NBC gave Trebek a new show called High Rollers at that slot and Now You See It began to struggle while the producers altered the format several times. The show was taped at Television City Studios in Studio 33, currently home to The Price Is Right. Some episodes used Studio 41, which at the time was the stage of CBS's Tattletales.[3]

NBC's resurgence in its morning lineup in early 1975 with the likes of Wheel of Fortune prompted CBS to clean house, canceling The Joker's Wild along with Now You See It. Gambit (the show actually facing Wheel), which had begun in 1972 at 11/10, returned to that slot after Now You See It's departure from the lineup.

This version aired occasionally on Game Show Network during the 1990s and 2000s until the network chose not to renew its contract with FremantleMedia (which now owns the Goodson-Todman library). The show currently airs as part of Buzzr's weekday morning lineup.


CBS decided to try the show again from April 3 to July 14, 1989 at 10:30 AM (9:30 Central), replacing Card Sharks, with Los Angeles news anchor Chuck Henry hosting. This version was again taped at Studio 33 at Television City in Hollywood for its entire run.

Not only did it face its sister Mark Goodson-packaged game Classic Concentration on NBC, but the new Now You See It faced a vastly changed television market from the days of the original. Syndicated talk shows such as Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael had become popular and made games like Now You See It seem tame and quaint by comparison. Further, daytime viewership had declined greatly overall since 1975, thanks to a surge in cable and pay channels giving the viewer more choices than just the three major networks. With a greater possibility for local advertising revenue from the talk shows, numerous stations passed on the game despite the solid performance of its lead-in, Family Feud.

In order to counteract affiliate preemption, CBS scuttled Now You See It and brought in the daytime Wheel of Fortune following NBC's cancellation of it on June 30. The show has not aired in reruns since its cancellation.


Episodes of the 1974–75 version have been rerun by GSN at various times in the past. Currently, Buzzr airs back-to-back episodes of the show on Sunday mornings at 4:00 and 4:30 ET.

The 1989 revival's episodes are intact, but have never been rerun at the request of Chuck Henry.


Home Game[edit]

A board Game based on the 1974–1975 version was made by the Milton Bradley Company (referred to simply as Milton Bradley) in 1974.

Computer Game[edit]

A computer game based on the 1989 version was made by Gametek in 1990.

International versions[edit]

Country Local Name Host Network Year Aired
 Australia Now You See It Mike Meade & Melvin the Robot
Sofie Formica
Seven Network 1985–1990
Scott McRae Nine Network 1998–2000
 Indonesia Temukan Kata Nico Siahaan
Irgi Ahmad Fahrezi
Kompas TV 2012–2013
 United Kingdom
Now You See It
Celebrity NYSI
Children's NYSI
Johnny Beattie
Jack McLaughlin
Grant Stott
Fred MacAulay
Scottish Television 1981–1984


  1. ^ Now You See It premiere, 1974.
  2. ^ "TV TIMES". Los Angeles Times. 1974-03-31. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  3. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
11:00 AM EST, CBS
4/1/74 – 6/13/75
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Card Sharks
10:30 AM EST, CBS
4/3/89 – 7/14/89
Succeeded by
Wheel of Fortune