Play the Percentages

(ended 1980)


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Play the Percentages

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Play the Percentages was a short-lived game show which, according to the opening tease, tested everyone's knowledge. The show, in fact, tested people's knowledge in two ways. It also tested the interest levels of all those who had watched the show, as well as testing its host, Geoff Edwards. The first format featured teams of married couples. Each couple competed in a main round whose details are sometimes forgotten. Play the Percentages had asked questions of all different categories to 300 ordinary people. The two couples on the show were asked about a question that had been posed: "What percentage of the people we polled knew the answer?" One member of each couple would submit a percentage number. Then Geoff Edwards would stand back to show the center of the set, where the actual percentage was projected on a screen. Whoever was closer to the actual percentage would win that correct percentage number of points. (e.g., If the correct percentage was 57 percent, the team closer to it would earn 57 points.) In the rare event of a tie, the question was thrown out. (The correct percentages were always rounded off to the nearest whole number.) The lucky couple closer to the actual percentage then had one of two ways to earn a total of 100 points on the question: A. One could answer the question himself or herself, or B. One could challenge the other couple to answer and hope the opponent got it wrong. Of course, the opponent got the remaining points if he/she got the correct answer by challenge or after the first contestant's failure to get the answer right. If someone hit the correct percentage exactly, that couple won the entire game and a progressive jackpot, which started at $10,000 and increased $1,000 after every game that no couple guessed an exact percentage. (At its peak, this exact percentage jackpot reached $56,000.) The regular game went through several questions, until one couple won the game with a score of 300 points. That gave the couple $300 cash and the right to go into a bonus game, which also went through two formats. At the beginning, the bonus round consisted of more knowledge questions. Many thanks to those who set up the Play the Percentages page at Geocities for detailing the forgotten first bonus game: The couple was given three possible responses to a question. The top 2 answers, plus one with no score were shown. The couple set a "target percentage" (a nonzero number), and if any answer matched the target percentage, the couple won the bonus game, with its accumulating jackpot. (That jackpot was moved into the front game in the show's first format change.) When the couple picked a response they thought most people said, Geoff revealed the percentage of one of the answers the couple didn't pick, then the percentage of the answer that was picked. (These percentages were all revealed on one circle within the lifesized percent sign, which was lifted from the studio floor for the bonus game). The couple can keep going till they score 100% to win the game, or picked a response that ranked zero and left the game with no winnings. In short order, the bonus round was changed to this format: The couple was given three possible responses to a question and then had to guess the two responses that had been given in the survey. (One was the correct answer; the other was a wrong answer given by those surveyed.) As points piled up, the couple had the option of quitting at any time or keep going, hoping to reach 100 points. Reaching 100 points won the couple a prize package worth about $3,500. Stopping prematurely gave the couple a dollar amount equalling ten times their point total. If at any time the couple selected a response not given by those surveyed, they left the bonus game with no winnings. (A disclaimer in the show's crawl explained that "the top ten answers collected in the survey served as the 100% basis. The percentage of each answer was then proportionately calculated.") Toward the middle of its short run, Play the Percentages changed its bonus game to reflect people's feelings. Surveyors asked questions à la Family Feud and collected people's opinions. The top five answers collected in the survey (proportionately calculated as explained before) and one zero-percent response were displayed. The champion couple had to determine the five answers that were mentioned to win the $3,500 or so in prizes. As with the other bonus game, they could stop at any time and collect a small dollar amount (ten times the total number of percentage points they had already revealed). Very little of Play the Percentages proved successful, despite little perks so common to Jack Barry-Dan Enright game shows (such as the Pontiac Sunbird Coupe for five-time champions). Close to halfway through the season, the format of the main game was rewritten entirely. This time, the questions they had asked ordinary people, were grouped into categories and filed by degrees of difficulty. Competition was broken down to single contestants. Each was asked beforehand for a category that they liked. These two categories, along with a potluck category, formed the basis of the new main game, divided into five rounds. Always the category for any round was chosen at random. The two contestants were each asked one question in each round. Each time a contestant was asked what degree of difficulty he or she wanted the question to be before the question was asked. The percentage of people got the question wrong (all the percentages were rounded to the nearest ten), reflected on the point value. Either the contestant guessed correctly, or he/she missed and the opponent had a chance to answer. Potluck questions were always buzz-ins, however. Thus a player was never really out of a game, even if it was the fifth round and he/she was down by 100 points or more. Play continued until one or the other contestant got 250 points and the win or, if no one had reached 250 points after five full rounds, a toss-up question decided the winner. Main games now awarded $500. Given these format changes, it was very difficult for Play the Percentages to establish a fan base of any worth. The show was stopped after one season, never fulfilling the worth of Geoff Edwards' closing line: "Hope the percentages are always in your favor."moreless
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