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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]

Two contestants (or during the later half of the run, two teams of a celebrity and a non-celebrity) are told the categories for the first two rounds of play. The current challenger is given the decision of becoming the blocker or the charger (If there is no champion, a coin toss determines which new challenger makes the decision). The charger is led offstage to a soundproof booth, then the blocker places six blocks on the game board, consisting of a 5×5 matrix of 25 spaces (with ascending values from $10 to $50) with an extra row of three additional spaces at the top (worth $200, $350 and $500). No more than three blocks could be put on any of the first five levels, and only one block could be put in the sixth level.

The designated charger is then given 60 seconds to progress his or her way up the six levels of the board by choosing one of the five spaces on a level and correcting a blooper, a factual statement with an incorrect word creating a pun (e.g., "The B&O was the first American passenger smell", with train as the correct answer). After the blooper was read, the contestant must correct the incorrect part of the statement (marked out in underline on the board's trilons) to progress to the next level. If the charger chooses a space concealing one of the blocks placed earlier, a five-second penalty is incurred and counted down by Kennedy, the audience, and (sometimes) the blocker. If the charger reveals all five spaces on a level without a correct answer, the row is exhausted; the contestant "advances" to the next level automatically, as if s/he answered the "fifth" blooper correctly.

If the charger believes that there will not be enough time to complete all six levels, and has not yet reached Level 6, he/she could call for a "Long Shot." The clock is removed from the round; the charger advances to Level 6 (often skipping levels). Before the charger selects one of its three bloopers, the opposing player/team places a "secret" block in Level 6, resulting in two of the three bloopers having a block if one of the originally-chosen blocks was placed on Level 6.

The charger wins the round if they clear all six levels within the time allotted, or if they successfully complete a "Long Shot." If time runs out, or, if the charger calls a "Long Shot" and either uncovers a block or fails to solve the blooper, the blocker wins the round. Regardless of who wins the round, the charger earns the money attached to the bloopers that he/she corrects, while the blocker earns the money attached to the blocks that the charger encounters.

The main game is played in a best-of-three format; the contestants switch roles for the second round; if a third round is needed, the champion (or, the loser of a coin toss) chooses roles for the tie-breaker. The first player to win two rounds wins the match, and progresses to the bonus round, the "Gauntlet of Villains", for a chance at a $25,000 grand prize. Their opponent received a consolation prize. Both players kept the money earned from charging and blocking.

The Gauntlet of Villains[edit]

In the Gauntlet of Villains, the winner of the main game is faced with a path lined with 10 wooden caricatures of stereotypical villains. The player must progress down the path in the time limit given by correcting bloopers as in the main game. The player was given a base time of 60 seconds to clear the gauntlet, with one second added for each $100 the player won in the main game; for example, a player who won $370 had 63 seconds to clear the gauntlet.

If the contestant successfully cleared the gauntlet, he or she won the grand prize of $25,000 and retired (the CBS daytime winnings limit was $25,000 at the time.) Otherwise, they earned $100 for every villain cleared, and faced a new opponent in the next game. Originally, there was no limit on how many matches a contestant could win, but soon after a seven-time champion successfully cleared the Gauntlet, a five-match limit was implemented.[citation needed]

If the contestant either responded incorrectly or failed to answer within the two second time limit, the correct response was shown on a screen within the caricature.

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, 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 continuing 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]