CBS (ended 1975)


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Think Yahtzee. Then add questions to the proceedings and make the game 100 percent more tedious and frustrating. That's how some likely viewed Spin-Off, a short-lived game show starring Dating Game icon Jim Lange and based on the best-selling dice game. Two couples, one a returning champion, competed. Lange asked a toss-up general knowledge question, and the first couple to answer correctly got control of the board (they also won control if the opposing couple was wrong or failed to answer in time). Then, the almost hedonistic part of the game began. Before each couple was a set of five numbers, each corresponding to a "spinner" (i.e., a space on their display). Each space had the numbers 1-6 on them. With each correct answer, the spinners would be set in motion, randomly flashing the numbers in rapid-fire sequence. When they stopped each spinner (which, according to memory, had a sound effect similar to Ernie's "gee-hee-hee-hee-hee" laugh on Sesame Street) one by one, the numbers went up on the display. The idea was to build the best Yahtzee-type combination. The couple could freeze with the hand they built, or – if the hand was not to their liking – they could reject some or all of the numbers by answering another toss-up and rolling again. Couples were automatically frozen on the third roll, however. The couple with the best hand won the following rewards: • One Pair – $50. • Two Pair – $75. • Three of a Kind – $100. • Straight – $125. • Full House – $150. • Four of a Kind – $175. • Five of a Kind – $200 plus a bonus prize. The first couple to win $250 (though it could be up to $425) was champion and advanced to the Super Spin-Off bonus round. In the Super Spin-Off, the couple had up to three tries to build the best hand possible. Rewards were paid thusly: • One Pair – $250. • Two Pair – $500. • Three of a Kind – $1,000. • Straight – $1,250. • Full House – $1,500. • Four of a Kind – $2,500. • Five of a Kind – $5,000. A straight in the exact order (1-2-3-4-5, 2-3-4-5-6, or either hand in reverse order) won the $10,000 grand prize! Though we still heard the aggravating Ernie-type laugh for the Super Spin-Off round, the bonus round was the best part of Spin-Off (heck, even today's casino Yahtzee-type games don't pay an easy $10,000 for an in-order straight!). But the few viewers who tuned in apparently agreed that the question element and pacing made Spin-Off an atrocity, and it wasn't long before this game spun off into TV game show heaven. About 13 years later, someone else tried to televise Yahtzee by adding in Match Game and Family Feud elements. The result? Get ready for this – Yahtzee! Didn't work there, either. The moral – don't add any other elements to this classic dice game so as we can play Yahtzee on TV.moreless