Pictionary (1989 game show)

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Created by
  • Robert Pittman
  • Brian Bedol
Based onPictionary
Presented byBrian Robbins
  • Julie Friedman (as Felicity)
  • Rick Zumwalt (as Judge Mental)
Narrated byHarry Stevens
Music byJohn Hodian
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes65
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseJune 5 (1989-06-05) –
September 8, 1989 (1989-09-08)

Pictionary is an American children’s game show based on the picture-drawing board game of the same name. This was the first of three game shows based on the board game, with later editions for adults launched in 1997 and 2022.

Pictionary ran from June 5, 1989 until September 8, 1989 in syndication and was a joint production of Barry & Enright Productions and QMI Television. The program was distributed by MCA Television.


Two teams of three competed against each other, drawing pictures on a telestrator.

Round one[edit]

One player at a time drew a picture for his/her teammates to guess. Once the picture was guessed or 20 seconds had elapsed, the next player in line began to draw. Each team had 60 seconds to guess as many pictures as possible, and the high scorers received 10 points. If the round ended in a tie, both teams scored.

Round two[edit]

One player drew pictures for 60 seconds, attempting to get his/her teammates to guess up to seven words that were clues to a puzzle. If the team solved the puzzle once time was up, they scored 10 points; if not, the opposing team was given 30 seconds to draw more clues and could then offer a guess to steal the points. Both teams were given one turn.

Round three[edit]

Each team chose one player to draw for the entire round. These two players took turns, with a maximum of 20 seconds per picture, and the teammates of the drawing player could buzz in and respond. A correct guess scored the picture, but a miss allowed the opposing team to offer unlimited guesses for the remainder of the 20 seconds, based only on whatever had been drawn to that point. After 90 seconds, the team with more pictures scored 30 points; in the event of a tie, both teams scored.

Near the end of the run, guest stars from children's entertainment took over drawing duties during this round, and all three members of each team attempted to guess the pictures.


At the end of the three rounds, the team with the most points won the game and advanced to the Waterworks bonus round for a chance at the grand prize. If the game ended in a tie, one final picture was played and the first team to buzz in and solve it was declared the winner.

A team could score up to 60 points during the game by winning the first/third rounds and solving both puzzles in the second, and any team that did so won an additional prize.

Bonus Round (Waterworks)[edit]

The object of the bonus round was to guess a famous person depicted in a caricature drawing, which was hidden behind a tank filled with plastic balls and divided vertically into five compartments.

Each team member took on one of three roles. One member had to hold two hoses together so that water would flow from a pump into an overhead dispenser. A second member stood under the dispenser, holding a pitcher above his/her head to catch the water as it ran out through a spout in the bottom. The third member, wearing diving flippers, had to carry the filled pitcher across the stage and pour the water into the tank. As each compartment filled with water, the plastic balls would rise and spill out to reveal portions of the caricature. They would continue doing this for 90 seconds, after which the water was turned off.

Once the time had expired, the team got ten seconds to study the caricature and offer a guess. Correctly identifying its subject won the grand prize.


Actor Brian Robbins, who at the time was starring on the sitcom Head of the Class, was the host of this edition of Pictionary. He was assisted by Julie Friedman, who was referred to on air as “Felicity” and whose duty consisted largely of keeping score, which she did using an apparatus resembling a faucet which dispensed colored balls into a tank.

Harry Stevens, who had just finished announcing for the syndicated version of the Nickelodeon game show Finders Keepers, filled the same role on Pictionary while arm wrestler Rick Zumwalt served as the game’s rules enforcer and judge as the character of “Judge Mental”.


The pilot episode was shot in 1988, with a few differences.

  • The pilot was produced by QMI Television with MCA distributing; Barry & Enright Productions began its involvement once the show went into production.
  • John Cramer served as the announcer.
  • The judge and rules enforcer was named “Stanley J. Heartless” and was played by actor Earl Boen.
  • In the second round, both teams were shown a picture hidden behind a nine-square grid. One member of each team was “sentenced” by Judge Heartless to pull fish out of an onstage swamp and hand them to the host; each fish had a number on it corresponding with one of the nine squares on the board. The teams went one at a time, with the first team setting a time and the other trying to beat it; the fastest team won the round.
  • For the third round, the teams received a choice of categories before drawing and each category had a maximum of seven pictures in it. If both teams got all seven pictures, the faster team won the round. If the teams tied without getting all seven, the sudden death tiebreaker described above was played.
  • The bonus round was called the Triathlon, had a 90 second time limit, and was played in three stages, which were as follows.
1. Two team members stood with their heads in wooden photo prop boards, both of which had blank areas where the picture’s hair would be; the other teammate would spray the boards with whipped cream until the areas were filled in.
2. Two trees needed to have their leaves painted green. Two team members would wear foam gloves and sit on one end of a seesaw, then move up and down so each one could reach the tree. The third teammate stood by with a tray of green paint in case they needed more.
3. A drawing hidden behind a mystic square with sixteen tiles was placed on the stage floor. One teammate put on a boot with suction cups on the bottom and, assisted by the other two team members, moved around the square taking off the tiles in numerical order. The team had to identify what was going on in the drawing before time ran out, and doing so won the grand prize.


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