Time Machine

NBC (ended 1985)


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Time Machine

Show Summary

The early 1980s brought a wave of trivia-based game shows, all trying to duplicate the success of Jeopardy! (which had recently entered syndication). The short-lived Time Machine tried to tie another relatively recent craze – nostalgia – with trivia in a conglomeration that people probably thought was better-suited for a radio call-in game than an entire series. Contestants who dared step into the Time Machine competed to answer questions about popular culture and recent (usually post-World War II) history. Most of the questions focused on the year an event occurred. Several mini-games were played, with two players each. Some of the games included: • The "Jukebox Game" – A year was given (e.g., 1963) and contestants had to guess whether a hit song occurred before or after (for instance, "The Twist," hit BEFORE (1960). • The "Tube Game" – Questions centered around television and when a particular show was on (see above example). • "Decades" – Players had to guess when a particular event occurred (e.g., the start of the Korean War occurred in 1950). Other games centered around news events, sports and other entertainment genres. The winners from each of those rounds competed against a returning champion in a question and answer-type quiz. The winner of that round played a bonus round. Two different bonus games were used during the show's run, played thusly: • January to early February – Davidson read a list of items all tied to a specific year – for instance, "West Side Story," Chevrolet Impala Super Sport introduced, "I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline, Peace Corps started and Roger Maris' 61st home run. If the contestant correctly identified the year (1961), he/she won a bonus prize. • Early February-April – A specific year was given (e.g., 1959) and up to four questions relating to whether a certain event happened before or after that year were read (e.g., Vietnam War started; correct answer, BEFORE). Four correct answers won the player a new car, while an incorrect answer before then stopped the game. Many viewers decided to bypass this Time Machine (opting for The $25,000 Pyramid instead), and after the concept was stretched way, way beyond its limit (16 weeks), NBC decided to set the Time Machine's destination for "oblivion."


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