TV Powww

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TV Powww (often stylized as TV POWWW) was a franchised television game show format, in which home viewers controlled a video game via telephone in hopes of winning prizes.

History[edit]

The TV POWWW format, produced and distributed by Florida syndicator Marvin Kempner, debuted in 1978 on Los Angeles station KABC-TV as part of A.M. Los Angeles, and by the start of the next decade was seen on 79 local television stations (including national superstation WGN as part of Bozo's Circus) in the United States, as well as several foreign broadcasters. While most stations had dropped TV POWWW by the mid-1980s, stations in Australia and Italy were still using it as late as 1990.[1]

Stations were originally supplied with games for the Fairchild Channel F console, but following Fairchild's withdrawal from the home video game market, Intellivision games were used. Kempner later unsuccessfully attempted to interest both Nintendo and Sega in a TV POWWW revival.[2]

While the underlying technology was standardized across participating stations, the format of TV POWWW's presentation varied from market to market. Many presented TV POWWW as a series of segments that ran during the commercial breaks of television programming (a la Dialing for Dollars), while some (such as KTTV in Los Angeles) presented TV POWWW as a standalone program.

Gameplay[edit]

In the video game being featured, the at-home player would give directions over the phone while watching the game on their home screen. When the viewer determined that the weapon was aiming at the target, they said "Pow!", after which that weapon would activate.

Accounts vary as to what kind of controller technology was involved. Some sources state that the gaming consoles sent to the stations were modified for voice activation.[2] However, a 2008 WPIX station retrospective claimed that for the station's version, where the player said "Pix" (Pron: picks), an employee in the control room manually hit the fire button when the caller indicated a shot.[3]

One of the pitfalls of the gameplay was that, due to broadcasting technicalities, there was significant lag in the transmission of a television signal. The player would experience this lag when playing at home, which likely made playing the game somewhat more difficult. (For similar reasons, such a game would be impossible in digital television without the use of a second video chat feed for the player, due to the time it takes to process and compress the video stream; most stations also mandate a seven-second delay to prevent obscenities from reaching the air.)

Featured games[edit]

Crystal128-tv.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

Channel F[edit]

  • Shooting Gallery

Intellivision[edit]

TV POWWW variants[edit]

City/Market Local name Host Show Featured on Network Air dates
Baltimore, MD TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WMAR Unknown
Battle Creek, MI TV Powww! Unknown Star Blazers WUHQ Unknown
Calgary, Alberta Switchback Unknown Unknown CBRT 1985
Chicago, IL
(Nationwide Cable)
Ray's TV Powww!, Bozo's TV Powww! Ray Rayner, Frazier Thomas Ray Rayner and His Friends, Bozo's Circus WGN
Superstation WGN
1979-1980
Cleveland, OH TV Powww! Candy Cramer Video Arcade WCLQ 1982–1984
Columbus, GA TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WYEA Unknown
Dallas, TX TV Powww! B.J. Cleveland Unknown KXTX Unknown
Dayton, OH TV Powww! Unknown
Unknown
Clubhouse 22 (children's version)
Evening (adult version)
WKEF Unknown
Unknown
Flint, MI TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WEYI Unknown
Green Bay, WI Clubhouse Powww! Gerald "Uncle Jerry" Drake[4]
"Barney"
Weekday afternoons WLUK-TV c. 1979–1981
Greensboro, NC TV Powww! Unknown Captain Triad WGGT Unknown
Hartford, CT TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WTXX Unknown
High Point, NC TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WGHP Unknown
Hobart, Tasmania TV Powww "Jim Shoes" Saturday Fun Show TVT6 1980s
Honolulu, HI TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KHNL Unknown
Houston, TX TV Kid POWWW Unknown Unknown KHTV Unknown
Jacksonville, FL TV Powww! Gary Rogers Unknown WAWS Unknown
Kingsport, TN
Knoxville, TN
TV Powww! Frances Eden Unknown WKPT
WTVK-TV
1981
Los Angeles, CA TV Powww! Unknown A.M. Los Angeles KABC 1978–?
John Rovick TV Powww KTTV 1979
Unknown TV Powww KCOP Unknown
New York, NY TV Pixxx Ralph Lowenstein N/A WPIX 197?–1982
Oakland, CA TV Powww! Pat McCormick Unknown KTVU Unknown
Perth, Western Australia TV Powww Chris Mills N/A GWN7 1980s
Philippines TV Powww Various N/A BBC-2 1970s–1980s
Phoenix, AZ TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KPNX Unknown
Raleigh, NC TV Powww! "Barney" Barney's Army WPTF-TV 1980–1982
Rochester, NY TV Powww! "Ranger Bob" N/A WUHF 1981
Sacramento, CA TV Powww! Mitch Agruss Cap'n Mitch KTXL 1980
San Diego, CA TV Powww! Unknown Unknown KCST Unknown
San Francisco, CA TV Powww! Pat McCormick Unknown KTVU 1970s–1980s
São Paulo, Brazil TV Powww! Luis Ricardo
Mara Maravilha
Paulo Barboza
Gugu Liberato
Sérgio Mallandro
Tânia Alves
Christina Rocha
Show Maravilha SBT 1984–1989
Spokane, WA Q6 Powww! Cal Fankhouser Unknown KHQ-TV Unknown
United Kingdom TV Powww Unknown Get Set for Summer BBC1 1980s
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales TV Powww Unknown Unknown RVN2 Unknown
Waterbury, CT TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WTXX Unknown
Wodonga, Victoria TV Powww Unknown Unknown AMV4 Unknown
Youngstown, OH TV Powww! Unknown Unknown WYTV Unknown

TV PIXXX[edit]

One notable version of TV POWWW was used by New York based television station WPIX, called TV-PIXXX (a play on the station's call letters). Hosted by station staff announcer Ralph Lowenstein, it was aired during the traditional weekday afternoon slot of children's TV as an interlude. Participants would be called at home to play a videogame that appeared on their screen.[1]

Participants interacted with the game by saying the word "PIXX" to perform game-related actions. Prizes included T-shirts and $10 U.S. Savings Bonds. They could double their prize or win a bonus prize (such as advance tickets to see upcoming films) by guessing a "Magic Word" (originally common everyday words, later in the last 2 years one of the 50 U.S. states). For a chance at playing, children could send a postcard with their name, address, and phone number to TV PIXXX.

WPIX's program lasted until 1982; for many New York viewers, TV PIXXX was their first glimpse of the Intellivision home game system.[2]

Switchback[edit]

Switchback aired on CBC Television station CBRT in Calgary, Alberta in 1985, also including Intellivision games.

Zap[edit]

Zap aired in the mornings from 1978–1979 on Cleveland, Ohio NBC station WKYC which had a feature similar to TV Powww.

International versions[edit]

Australia[edit]

In the early 1980s, Golden West Network (GWN) had a version called TV Powww (or possibly TV Pow), hosted by Chris Mills. There was a spaceship game, a boxing game and a soccer/football game.

A basic version of Space Invaders was broadcast daily after school hours in Rockhampton, north-east coast of Australia during the early 1980s. Children would yell "Pow!" over the telephone, with the host pressing the fire button in the studio. Reaction time varied with the mood of the host. The game was often chaotic, with contestant rapid firing, and sync abandoned when the host was unable to keep up.

Brazil[edit]

The game premiered on SBT in August 1984 and its first host was Paulo Barboza. Shortly thereafter, other hosts like Tânia Alves, Mara Maravilha, Luís Ricardo, Sérgio Mallandro, Gugu Liberato and Christina Rocha presented the game. TV Powww! became a segment of the Bozo show in 1986 and continued until 1989.

The Philippines[edit]

Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation aired the version of TV Powww in the 1980s.

United Kingdom[edit]

The game was also a regular part of the BBC Saturday morning children's show Get Set For Summer in the early 80s.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Erickson, Charles (June 9, 2002). "When the Future of TV Was a Youngster Yelling 'Pow!'". New York Times. pp. 27, sect. 2. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  2. ^ a b c Intellivision Lives website: Newsletter, March 2002
  3. ^ Tsiokos, Costa (June 15, 2008), Population Statistic: "TV PIXXX: Remote Gaming, 80's Style", retrieved 2009-11-05
  4. ^ Obituary for Gerald Drake from Legacy.com, 6/2013
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2014-10-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)