Second Chance (game show)

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Second Chance
Second Chance game show logo 1977.png
Created by Bill Carruthers[1]
Jan McCormack
Directed by Chris Darley[1]
Presented by Jim Peck
Narrated by Jay Stewart
Jack Clark
Joe Seiter (pilot/substitute)
Theme music composer Score Productions[1]
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 95
Executive producer(s) Bill Carruthers
Producer(s) Joel Stein[1]
Location(s) ABC Television Center
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 22-26 minutes
Production company(s) The Carruthers Company
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Original network ABC
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Mono
Original release March 7 – July 15, 1977
Followed by Press Your Luck (1983-1986)
Whammy! (2002-2003)

Second Chance is an American game show that ran from March 7, 1977 to July 15, 1977 on ABC. Jim Peck hosted, with Jay Stewart and Jack Clark serving as announcers. The show was a production of the Carruthers Company in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Second Chance shared many similarities with the 1980s game show Press Your Luck, which premiered in 1983 and was produced by the Carruthers Company for CBS.[1]

Game play[edit]

Three contestants competed on each program.

Like its successor series six years later, Second Chance saw players answer trivia questions in order to earn turns on a large game board with various cash amounts and prizes. Two rounds of play, consisting of one question round and one round at the board, were played.

Question rounds[edit]

Each question round consisted of three questions. After hearing the question, the contestants had five seconds to write their answers on pieces of cardboard and place the answers in a slot in front of them. None of the contestants could see what the others had answered.

Once the contestants answered, Peck would inform the contestants that at least one of them was either right or wrong (or that the contestants had all given the same answer). He then gave the contestants a choice of whether to stick with their answers or take a second chance by changing their answer to one of three choices provided by Peck.

Correct answers earned points which were converted to "spins" in the second half of the round. Three points were awarded for a correct initial answer; one point was awarded for a correct "second chance" answer.

Board round[edit]

Second Chance game board

Each contestant used their spins to accumulate money and prizes on an 18-space game board. To do this, the contestants used a buzzer in front of them to stop a flashing randomizer light which moved in a pattern around the board at a high rate of speed, and whatever the randomizer landed on when the contestant stopped it was given to him/her.

The gameboard featured nine cash squares with orange and yellow backgrounds and six squares with gift boxes in them which were used to represent prizes. Once one of these was landed on, a slide showing a prize was revealed and the prize's value was added to the contestant's score. There were also three squares with a cartoon figure referred to as the Devil in them. Hitting one of these cost a player whatever he/she had earned to that point, and hitting the Devil four times eliminated a player from the game. Unlike the board from the future Press Your Luck, the squares on this board did not change as the randomizer moved.

Initially, the top dollar value in the first round was $2,500 and $5,000 in the second. Later, the second round also rewarded players that hit the top dollar value with an additional spin. Later still, the top value decreased to $1,000 in the first round. In the second round, a randomizer with an eggcrate display was placed in the big money square and its value could be anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 in thousand dollar increments.[2] Prizes were typically worth less than $1,000 in the first round and significantly more in the second.[3]

In both rounds when the players faced the board, play began with the player with the least amount of spins and went in ascending order. If any of the players were tied, the player closest to Peck was given first chance. At any time, a player could pass his/her remaining spins. If any of the trailing players passed, those spins went to the leader. If the leader passed, they went to the player in second place unless there was a tie, in which case the player got to select which player received them. The player receiving the passed spins was forced to take all of them. If a Devil was hit, all of the remaining passed spins (if there were any) became earned spins and the player could do what they wanted with them. If the big money square was landed on with a passed spin in the second round, the player earned a regular spin.

The player in the lead at the end of the second board playing won the game, and kept whatever he/she earned. This show did not have returning champions like the later, better known version of the show, Press Your Luck, did.[2]

Broadcast history[edit]

Second Chance debuted on March 7, 1977 at Noon, replacing a short-lived variety series starring Don Ho (which had itself replaced Peck's Hot Seat on October 25, 1976). Almost immediately the series faced problems as the Noon timeslot on the networks was long subject to preemptions for local newscasts and other programming. The CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, which was starting to become a ratings success in its fourth season, also proved troublesome for Second Chance in the timeslot (NBC, which aired Name That Tune and Shoot for the Stars at Noon during the first three months of Second Chance's run, was also struggling).

Unable to compete with the hit soap on CBS, Second Chance came to an end after nineteen weeks and aired its final episode on July 15, 1977. The Goodson-Todman game show The Better Sex replaced it the following Monday but was cancelled after almost six months in January 1978.

Press Your Luck[edit]

Press Your Luck, a game similar in format to Second Chance, later aired on CBS from 1983 until 1986. Although both shows featured nearly-identical gameplay, Press Your Luck employed a more colorful, constantly changing gameboard, its villain was the animated "Whammy", and its question rounds were conducted differently. Also, the leader at the end of the first round got to play the board last in the second round while the player with the lowest score went first. Also, players stayed on the show until they were defeated, won five days, or amassed $25K or more in winnings (raised to $50K or more on 11/1/1984).

Episode status[edit]

Most episodes of Second Chance have likely been destroyed due to network policies of the era.

Two regular episodes, the May 31 and June 27 episodes, have surfaced in video form and are available for viewing on YouTube through multiple site users. The third pilot episode for the show, taped November 9, 1976, is also available on YouTube; this episode has circulated among the game show community since the 1990s and was formerly thought to be the only surviving episode. The July 15 finale exists, but only in audio form. In place of the lost video portion, fan-made visuals accompany the audio track. An undated audio clip of a show open also exists.

Australian version[edit]

The show ran in Australia in 1977 on Network Ten hosted by Earle Bailey and Christine Broadway and produced by Reg Grundy.[4] There was later an Australian version of Press Your Luck from 1987 to 1988 on Seven Network hosted by Ian Turpie and also produced by Grundy.


  1. ^ a b c d e Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. p. 196. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5. 
  2. ^ a b Second Chance. Episode 94. July 15, 1977. ABC. 
  3. ^ Second Chance. Episode 81. June 27, 1977. ABC. 
  4. ^ The Saddle Club to Ship to Shore|Memorable TV Guide to Australian Television Archived April 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]