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Whew! logo.png
Created byJay Wolpert[1]
Directed byBill Carruthers
Chris Darley
Tom Trbovich[1]
Presented byTom Kennedy
Narrated byRod Roddy
Theme music composerAlan Thicke
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes247
Executive producersBud Austin
Burt Sugarman[1]
ProducerJay Wolpert[1]
Production locationsCBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running timeApprox. 25 minutes (with commercials)
Production companiesThe Bud Austin Company
Jay Wolpert Productions
Burt Sugarman Inc.
Original networkCBS
Original releaseApril 23, 1979 (1979-04-23) –
May 30, 1980 (1980-05-30)

Whew! is an American game show that aired on CBS from April 23, 1979 until May 30, 1980. It was hosted by Tom Kennedy and announced by Rod Roddy in his game show announcing debut.

The game was created by Jay Wolpert. Production was initially credited to the Bud Austin Company, then later changed to Jay Wolpert Productions in association with Burt Sugarman Inc. The animated opening sequence was produced by Hanna-Barbera.


Main game[edit]

The gameboard consisted of five rows ("levels") of five squares each, with values from $10 to $50 in $10 increments, and a sixth level of three squares with values of $200, $350, and $500. Levels were numbered from the bottom of the board, working upward. Two contestants (or during the later half of the run, two teams of a celebrity and a civilian) were told the categories for the first two rounds of play at the start of the match. The current challenger decided whether he/she would play as the charger or the blocker for the first round, and the champion took the other role. (If there was no returning champion, a coin toss determined which contestant made this decision.) The charger was led offstage to a soundproof booth, and the blocker then placed six blocks on the board. Up to three blocks could be placed on any of the first five levels, and just one on the sixth.

The charger was brought back onstage and given 60 seconds to advance through all six levels by correcting "bloopers", or factual statements in which one word had been changed. (Example: "The B&O was the first American passenger smell", with "railroad" as the correct answer.) The charger started on level one by choosing one of its squares; if a blooper was hidden there, it was revealed on that space's trilon and read out. The incorrect word was marked with an underline, and was the only part that the charger needed to correct. A correct answer allowed him/her to move to the next level, while a miss or failure to respond within three seconds required him/her to choose another space. Uncovering a block incurred a five-second penalty, which was counted down by Kennedy and the audience (and sometimes the blocker as well) before the charger could continue. If the charger revealed all the spaces on a level without a correct answer, the level was "exhausted" and the charger was allowed to advance.

If the charger believed that he/she was running short on time, and had not yet reached level six, he/she could call a "Longshot". The clock was stopped, the charger immediately advanced to level six, and the blocker hid one secret block on that level in addition to the one that may have already been placed there. The charger then selected one square and attempted to correct its blooper if one was hidden there. The charger won the round by either clearing all six levels or successfully completing a Longshot. If the charger ran out of time, or either hit a block or failed to correct a blooper after calling a Longshot, the blocker won the round. The charger could not call a Longshot after reaching level six or during the five-second penalty for hitting a block, but could do so at any other time, even while Kennedy was reading a blooper.

The contestants traded positions for the second round; if a third round was needed, Kennedy revealed its category at that time and the champion decided who would play which role. The first contestant to win two rounds won the match and advanced to the Gauntlet of Villains. Each contestant received the total value of all bloopers he/she corrected and of all blocks hit by the opponent during the rounds that he/she won. The runner-up also received consolation prizes.

Bonus round: The Gauntlet of Villains[edit]

The contestant stood at the beginning of a path lined with 10 wooden caricatures of stereotypical villains, each with one arm raised as a barrier. He/she had 60 seconds, plus one extra second for every $100 earned in the main game, to reach the end of the path by correcting bloopers. If the contestant either responded incorrectly or failed to respond within two seconds, the correct answer was shown on a small screen embedded in the current villain's chest and Kennedy read a new blooper. A correct response led to the villain's arm being lowered so that the contestant could advance to the next one.

The contestant won $100 for each villain passed, or $25,000 for completing the Gauntlet. Since CBS had a $25,000 winnings limit in effect for its game shows at the time, any contestant who won this bonus round immediately retired from the show. Unsuccessful champions played the main game again. Later, an additional rule forced the champion to retire after five attempts at the bonus round.

The villains in the Gauntlet were, from start to finish:

  1. Alphonse the Gangster
  2. Bruno the Headsman
  3. Mr. Van Louse the Landlord
  4. Nero the Fiddler
  5. Count Nibbleneck the Vampire
  6. Frank and his little friend Stein
  7. Kid Rotten the Gunslinger
  8. Jeremy Swash the Pirate
  9. Dr. Deranged the Mad Scientist
  10. Lucretia the Witch

Production information[edit]

Whew! was taped in Hollywood, California at CBS Television City, with production alternating between Studios 31 and 33.[2]

Broadcast History[edit]

Whew!'s debut was part of a shakeup of the overall CBS daytime schedule. The show was given the spot on the schedule that had previously belonged to Match Game 79; at the time, the long-running Match Game had been airing at 4:00 p.m. Eastern in the last network-programmed daytime slot of the day.

Furthermore, CBS’ morning lineup at the time consisted of All in the Family reruns at 10:00 a.m., the hour-long game show The Price Is Right at 10:30 a.m., and the veteran soap opera Love of Life at 11:30 a.m. where it had been airing for years. The network decided to add Whew! to its morning lineup and placed it at 10:30 following the All in the Family reruns. This resulted in The Price Is Right moving ahead thirty minutes to the 11 a.m. time slot, which it still occupies as of 2021, and the displacement of Love of Life from its long-term morning time slot as it took over the 4 p.m. slot Match Game vacated.[3] Whew!'s actual run time, with commercials, was 25 minutes; the remaining time (in between the show and The Price Is Right) was taken up by the five-minute CBS Mid-Morning News with Douglas Edwards.

Its competition was restricted to NBC’s daytime lineup, as ABC did not program the 10:00 AM hour at the time. From its premiere, Whew! went up against All Star Secrets until that series was cancelled. NBC then relocated Hollywood Squares, which it had been shuffling around the schedule for some time by 1979 (where it aired in three separate time slots that year alone). Both programs would face each other head to head for the remainder of the run of Whew!; incidentally, Hollywood Squares would be cancelled shortly after Whew! aired its finale.

After the final episode of Whew! aired, the series was replaced the following Monday by reruns of Alice, which remained in the 10:30 a.m. timeslot until September 1982 (when Child's Play premiered).

Celebrity Whew![edit]

On November 5, 1979, in an attempt to increase the show's ratings,[1] Whew! changed its format to accommodate the addition of celebrities to the game. Originally conceived as a three-week special series of episodes, the change instead became permanent and the show adopted the title Celebrity Whew! to reflect it.

Each contestant was paired with one of the two celebrities and they both took turns charging. They shared blocking duties, with each of them placing three blocks when it was their turn. The rules were otherwise unchanged except, towards the end of the series, if one of the teams was able to win by sweeping the first two boards, they got to play the third board unopposed for bonus money with a randomly generated set of blocks.

In the Gauntlet of Villains, one member of the team took the first half of the Gauntlet and the other took the second half. The rules were the same as before: each $100 earned in the front game was worth one additional second on top of the base 60-second time, and completing the Gauntlet won $25,000 which retired the player immediately upon winning it.

Episode status[edit]

All episodes are presumed to exist in the possession of Burt Sugarman, the current copyright holder of the Whew! program and format.[4]


The theme song was composed by Alan Thicke. Original recordings of the theme were presumed to have been lost until 2012, when they were discovered by the Museum of Television Production Music.[5]


  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. 254. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.
  2. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "1979 - The Daytime TV Schedule Archive". Retrieved April 13, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Whew! Credits". Television Production Music Museum. 2010. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2010. Burt Sugarman: Checked all the material from WHEW! and absolutely does not have the music, only 100% of original video masters. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ WHEW! Renewal Gift

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