Hit Man

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NBC (ended 1983)

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Hit Man

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In late 1982, game shows were unbelievably rare on network television. Where once had been a six-show empire, NBC closed 1982 with only Wheel of Fortune on its daytime schedule. But hope was in sight. On Jan. 3, 1983, three new game shows premiered. One was a revival of $ale of the Century, so popular on Australian television. Another was a female contestants only effort called Just Men! In between these new efforts, at 11:30 A.M. EST, was this unique program. Hit Man was perhaps the most educational game show in history, more educational, if the truth be known, than PBS's future efforts with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and its spinoffs. The game started with three players listening to a very thought-provoking story in the PBS documentary mold (of that time). Contestants had to provoke thoughts from watching this piece, because afterward, Peter Tomarken asked questions. The four contestants buzzed in and, if they answered correctly, advanced on a ladder. Any incorrect answer prohibited the guilty contestant from competing in the next buzz-in question. The first player to answer five questions correctly won $300 and advanced to the second round. The second player to finish the ladder climb, won $200 and also advanced. The second round pitted the two remaining challengers with the returning champion. Again, the round began with a very thought-provoking documentary, usually covering history. Peter Tomarken again asked questions about the documentary. This time, the three contestants were given a different number of "Hit Men" to eliminate: Seven Hit Men were superimposed around the champion Four Hit Men were awarded the challenger who finished his ladder-climb in the previous round faster Three Hit Men were awarded the other contestant to complete the first-round ladder-climb Each correct answer allowed the contestant to eliminate one of his/her opponents' Hit Men. Of course, a wrong answer and the contestant saw one of his/her own Hit Men disappear. Play ended when only one contestant had any Men left. He or she was the winner and advanced to the end game. The bonus round (Triple Crown) featured eight columns of varying height (the exact heights were kept secret). Peter Tomarken asked the day's champion questions on both documentaries. His/her mission was to get correct answers to climb these columns in 60 seconds or less. Any time the champion gave an incorrect answer, that column was taken out of play. Filling one column in 60 awarded $1,000, two columns yielded $2,000, and filling three columns won the grand prize of $10,000. Champions stayed on up to 10 times (done only once). Sadly, only thirteen weeks of Hit Man were ever produced. It couldn't compete against the second half of The Price Is Right. As novel an idea this was to game show history, Hit Man proved too expensive to continue. The last show, broadcast (ominously enough) on April Fools Day 1983, ended with what may have been the late announcer Rod Roddy's most memorable quotation: "If you would like to be a contestant on Hit Man, forget it!" The final episode also had future game show announcer Randy West as champ. Peter Tomarken and Rod Roddy did establish a fine working relationship on Hit Man, though. That proved vital when Bill Carruthers hired both of them to front the unforgettable CBS game show Press Your Luck half a year later.moreless
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