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Whew! logo.png
Created by Jay Wolpert[1]
Directed by Bill Carruthers
Chris Darley
Tom Trbovich[1]
Presented by Tom Kennedy
Narrated by Rod Roddy
Theme music composer Alan Thicke
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes Unknown
Executive producer(s) Bud Austin
Burt Sugarman[1]
Producer(s) Jay Wolpert[1]
Location(s) CBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running time Approx. 25 minutes (with commercials)
Production company(s) The Bud Austin Company
Jay Wolpert Productions
Burt Sugarman Inc.
Original channel CBS
Original release April 23, 1979 – May 30, 1980

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.

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.


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. Two contestants (or during the later half of the run, two teams of a celebrity and a non-celebrity) 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. No more than three blocks could be placed on any of Levels 1 through 5, and no more than one on Level 6.

The Charger was brought back onstage and given 60 seconds to advance through all six levels by correcting "bloopers" - factual statements with one word changed to create a pun. (Example: "The B&O was the first American passenger smell", with "railroad" as the correct answer.) The Charger started on Level 1 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. 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, he/she was allowed to advance.

If the Charger believed that he/she would not have enough time to clear all six levels, and if he/she had not yet reached Level 6, he/she could call a Longshot. The clock was stopped, the Charger immediately advanced to Level 6, and the Blocker hid one block on that level in addition to any 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 6 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 first contestant to win two rounds won the match and advanced to the bonus round, while the opponent received a consolation prize. Regardless of who won each round, the Charger received money for the total value of all corrected bloopers, while the Blocker received the total for all blocks hit. The contestants traded roles for the second round; if a third was needed, Kennedy revealed its category at that time and the champion decided who would play which role.

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. The villains' screens often displayed mocking comments before and after the round, whether the contestant won or lost.

The villains in the Gauntlet, from left-to-right:

  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]

Broadcast History[edit]

Whew!‍ '​s debut at 10:30 AM was part of a morning lineup shuffle at CBS.[citation needed] In order to make room for the game show and daytime All in the Family reruns in the 10 AM hour, the hour-long game show The Price Is Right was moved[citation needed] to 11 AM where it continues to air in most markets to this day. Its 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. Whew! went up against The Hollywood Squares on NBC for its entire run[citation needed] and the latter show easily beat out Whew!.[citation needed]

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

After the final episode of Whew! aired, the series was replaced the following Monday by repeats of Alice, which aired until September 17, 1982, when it was replaced by Child's Play the following Monday. Press Your Luck would replace Child's Play on September 19, 1983.

Celebrity Whew![edit]

Starting November 1979[1] and originally set to run for just three weeks, but continued until Whew! went off the air in May 1980, the program became known as Celebrity Whew! and two contestant-celebrity pairs competed. When a team was Charging they alternated turns, and when Blocking they each placed three blocks on the board. Although episodes briefly continued to straddle, this was quickly changed. Instead, if a team swept the first two boards, the third board was played for bonus money and (in turn) extra Gauntlet time with the six blocks placed randomly by the Villains.

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 sixty, 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.[3]


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.[4]


  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. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ WHEW! Renewal Gift

External links[edit]