The Chamber (game show)

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The Chamber
Directed by Don Weiner
Presented by Rick Schwartz
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 6 (3 unaired)
Running time approx. 44 Minutes
Original network Fox
Original release January 13 – January 25, 2002

The Chamber is an American game show that aired on Fox. It was an hour-long show that debuted on January 13, 2002. The show featured contestants answering questions while strapped into a torture chamber.

Pre-game Faceoff[edit]

To begin, two contestants (always one male and one female) were posed a question by host Rick Schwartz. The contestants went back and forth, providing a single answer that fit the category. Once a correct answer was given, the opponent had to do the same. If a contestant gave an incorrect answer, repeated an answer, or took too much time, the opponent could score a point by giving one more right answer. The first to score two points in this way moved on to the main game, the loser left with nothing.

Main Game[edit]

Before entering the Chamber, the contestant was offered a $500 buyout to leave the game, which nobody took. To begin, the contestant was strapped into a chair, arms raised over the head. Electrodes, muscle contractors and medical equipment were attached to the player before entering. During the pre-game setup, a computer would choose whether the contestant would play against the "hot" or "cold" chamber.

Just before the player is sent into the chamber, he or she must sign a release form, stating that he/she is willing to play the game on his/her own free will, clearly understanding the torture of the chamber. This was likely for dramatic effect, as contestants on any game show must sign forms and contracts before even setting foot in the studio.


Once sealed in the chamber, the game began. Each player's goal was to answer as many questions, and to last in the chamber as long as possible. The game could end in any of the following ways:

  • Answering two consecutive questions incorrectly.
  • The player's "stress quotient" entering a predetermined "Danger Zone" for 20 seconds. Viewers only knew that it was an equation that used blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature as variables. However, unlike ABC's The Chair, players were not penalized monetarily for entering their Danger Zone.
  • The show's medical staff could stop the game if they felt that the player would not be able to continue, or if he or she was rendered unconscious from the stress (which did not happen, however, one contestant, Jennifer Basa, nearly reached that point, and had to receive clearance from the show's medical staff in order to continue)
  • Voluntarily ending the game by saying "Stop the chamber!" (which nobody did), however, doing so would have carried the same penalty for answering two consecutive questions incorrectly.

As each round began, one minute was put on the clock and questions were asked to the player, each worth $1,000 if answered correctly. If the player lost the contest for whatever reason, that money was halved. If the player could survive the entire minute, the game would go into stop down mode for ten seconds, allowing Schwartz to speak to the contestant and check on their status, after which the conditions inside would intensify, and the game continued. The maximum amount of questions has never been stated, but it has been stated that it is possible to win over $100,000 (because with six questions per level and seven levels, the potential top prize would be $126,000).


Depending on the chamber chosen, the player would face a different set of challenges:

Hot Chamber[edit]

  • The inside temperature would begin at 110 °F (43 °C) and increase toward a maximum of 170 °F (66 °C).
  • Flames begin to appear more furiously than the last level.
  • Muscle contractors would work at progressively greater intervals as the contest proceeded.
  • A simulated earthquake would shake the player (Richter scale 5.0 to begin, going all the way up to 9.0)
  • The chair would begin to rotate back and forth (level two), then up and down, through 270 degrees, and finally it would spin in complete circles.
  • On the last episode, foul odors would be piped in after the fourth round.
  • Wind gusts of 40 mph (64.3 k/h) joined in at level two.
  • The oxygen level in the chamber would drop each level (90% down to 70%).
  • Air cannons would blast at up to 140 mph.

Cold Chamber[edit]

  • The inside temperature would begin at 30 °F (-1 °C) and decrease toward a minimum of -20 °F (-29 °C).
  • Muscle contractors would work at progressively greater intervals as the contest proceeded (Level 4 starts its maximum interval "HIGH").
  • A simulated earthquake would shake the player (Richter scale 5.0 to begin, going all the way up to 9.5)
  • Instead of rotating, water jets would squirt the player, causing ice to form on the player. In level 2, Jets would squirt more furiously (50%), then at its maximum in Level 3.
  • Ice Storm begins at Level three (Begins at Stage 4 through 8).
  • Wind gusts of 40 mph (64.3 k/h) joined in at level three.
  • The oxygen level in the chamber would drop each level (95% down to 70%).
  • Air cannons would blast at up to 140 mph.

The contestant would answer as many questions as possible while trying to remain focused around the distractions and pain caused from the chamber. The game would end if the contestant could survive for seven minutes in the harsh environment. If the winner could also manage to answer 25 questions correctly, the total winnings would be tripled. Additionally, that environment would be retired, and something new created.

Show Format[edit]

For the first two aired episodes, there were three games played per hour. For the final episode, a fourth game was added to fill out the time. For the first two episodes, host Rick Schwartz was little more than a color commentator for the Chamber rounds; a male voice asked the questions, and a female voice would let them know when the Chamber was transitioning into higher levels and shutting down. On the final episode, Schwartz asked the questions as well as conducting interviews during the down time.

No one ever won the grand prize of $100,000 by answering 25 questions correctly. One contestant, Scott Brown, managed to survive all seven levels in the 'cold' chamber, and finished with $20,000--more than any other contestant on the show--by getting 20 correct answers. However, after his game, he was hospitalized and sued FOX and the producers of the show. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Brown was awarded an additional $100,000 for compensation.

During the first episode, a controversy occurred on one of the questions, the answer to which was John Glenn. The contestant initially said "Glenn", then began debating aloud, "Glenn somebody...somebody Glenn" before offering the answer "Glenn Armstrong." In her post-game interview, she claimed she thought Glenn was a sufficient enough answer (many game shows have accepted just the last name), but when she didn't get a response, she gave a different answer. Since this was a second consecutive miss, her winnings were halved and she left with $10,500.

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