NBC (ended 1987)



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Show Summary

Are two heads really better than one? That's what the early 1980s version of Blockbusters attempted to determine. That's because a solo player was pitted against a family pair (siblings, parent/child, uncle/aunt and nephew/niece, grandparent/grandchild ... anything except husband and wife or other form of couple), with one set of contestants the returning champion(s). The object was to connect both sides of the 5-by-4 board of hexagons through correct answers. The solo player (red) had to connect vertically (at least four blocks), while the family pair (white) went side-to-side (needing to connect at least five blocks). Each hexagon had a letter, which was the first letter in the answer to a question host Cullen read. For example, if a player chose "B," the question might be – "What 'B' is a male amphibian or Jerimiah in the Three Dog Night song 'Joy to the World'?" Answer – Bullfrog). Anyone could buzz in and answer, with a correct answer gave the player/team the box and a wrong answer allowing the opponent(s) to answer. If nobody answered correctly, another question whose answer began with that same letter is asked. Players always tried to block the opponent's progress at all times (requiring them to work their way around and answer more than the minimum number of questions needed to win); often, players chose a box that could help them but not do their opponent's a bit of good. Each game in the best-of-three match was worth $500, with two games winning the match and a trip to the Gold Run bonus round. In the Gold Run, the player (or one member of the family team) had 60 seconds to connect the left to right sides of the board by answering Blockbusters-style questions. Each block represented a single letter or (much more often) an acronym (e.g., "YP" could lead to the question, "Telephone directory containing business listings and advertisements." Answer: Yellow Pages). Passing on a question or giving an incorrect answer caused that box to turn black, and the player had to work their way around it. The player/team won $5,000 for making a connection, but if they were unsuccessful, they earned $100 for every question they had right; and yes, Cullen was kind enough to provide the answers to those questions that were missed. (Note: If the player gets blocked out, he/she he/she could still continue and try to build up the consolation prize of $100 for every correct answer. Also, early in the 1980-1982 run, a player/team played the Gold Run after every game won for $2,500 the first time and $5,000 the second time.) Teams competed until defeated or winning 10 games; thus $60,000 was possible (achieved by several players/teams). On August 31, 1981, the 10-game limit was upped to 20 and successful contestants were invited back to compete for more cash; more than once, the $120,000 maximum was achieved. Oh, did two heads really prove better than one? On the last show, Cullen let us know – not really, since about half of the champions were solo players and the other half were the family pair. But it was an interesting concept and a fun game to watch. Nearly five years after the original Blockbusters left NBC, a new version appeared. While the major rules were similar, two solo players competed in the best-of-three affair (now hosted by Bill Rafferty). The champion (white) had to connect side-to-side and the challenger (red) went top-to-bottom in game 1, with both players switching in game 2. If a tie-breaker game was needed, the board was reduced to a 4-by-4 grid, with neither player having an advantage (white still went from side-to-side, red still went top-to-bottom). Games were worth $100 each instead of $500, and champions played the Gold Run as before (except that later in the run if the bonus game isn't won, the $5,000 bonus is increased by that much for every playing until claimed, but is reset to $5,000 if a new champion is crowned). Blockbusters is currently airing on weekday mornings at 9am on GSN.

Bill Cullen

Bill Cullen

Host (1980-1982)

Bob Hilton

Bob Hilton

Announcer (1980-1982)

Bill Rafferty

Bill Rafferty

Host (1987)

Rich Jeffries

Rich Jeffries

Announcer (1982/1987)

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  • Two heads, or one head!

    Really a great show as I grew up watching this as a kid in Miami. Living at the time. Because this show, was a cutting edge of it's time. It shows that you can either be two heads or one. As sometimes, one or the other, can call each other's bluff. Matching letters and spelling out catch phrases. The one that I watched the most, was the late Bill Cullen one. He was the host that I most associate him with this show. He got his first emmy nod, as he seemed to always be overlooked. But he is one of my favorites.moreless

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