The Magnificent Marble Machine

NBC (ended 1976)


No Editor

User Score: 0

User Rating
8 votes

By Users

Write A Review
The Magnificent Marble Machine

Show Summary

Add a general-knowledge quiz to one of the crazes of the mid-1970s - pinball - and what do you get? One of the best known flops in game show history. That's how many historians regard The Magnificent Marble Machine, which enjoyed a brief one-year run on NBC in 1975-1976. The two-stage game went something like this: Two contestants (one a returning champion) compete, each paired with a celebrity partner. In the first half of the game, the teams competed to answer general knowledge questions, which were displayed on a huge electronic readout on the machine (e.g., Q: "He's center and he's square." A: Paul Lynde). To help the contestants answer, they were told the number of words and letters in the answer, with letters filling in as time progressed. Each correct answer was worth one point; five points allowed the winning team to advance to the game's second stage. That second stage was The Magnificent Marble Machine's centerpiece - an oversized pinball machine (20 feet tall and 12 feet long) containing seven "bumpers," a pair of "out" holes (one near the center and one towards the bottom of the machine) and various noisemakers, lights and flippers. Each partner manned one of the flippers and played two balls for a maximum of 60 seconds each. The bumpers were worth 500 points and other noisemakers 200 each. Each of the bumpers was also worth a prize for the first time they were hit, with certain bumpers hit in a combination (bumpers 3 & 4) worth a larger announced prize, such as a car, trip or fur coat. Play on each ball ended when either 60 seconds elapsed or it fell out one of the "out" holes. If after both balls were played the team reached a target score (15,000 points for the first time, minus 1,000 points for each return visit), the team played a "gold money ball" was played for bonus cash, earning $200 for each bumper or noisemaker hit. A contestant continued as champion until he/she was defeated. The Magnificent Marble Machine was heavily hyped before its premiere in July 1975; however, the show's ratings were anything but magnificent. Modifying the rules and changing the format all-celebrities (with a lucky studio audience member playing the bonus round only) didn't help, and after 39 weeks, the pinball machine met the wrecking ball - figuratively speaking, at least. Because of a strike, reruns aired from March to June 1976, until enough episodes of its replacement were taped).moreless