CBS (ended 1980)


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Welcome to the Whew! guide at TV.com. "Close calls! Narrow escapes! Split-second decisions! And $25,000 in cash! A combination guaranteed to make you say... Whew! That's the exclamation many contestants and viewers likely heard themselves uttering when watching this fast-paced game show, where strategy often dictated how well contestants did moreso than finding mistakes in the writer's statements. Not that the writers were bumbling idiots, of course, but that'll be explained in a bit. Two contestants, including a returning champion, competed in this show, which lasted 14 months on CBS (which, BTW, was Match Game 79's successor). The object was to correct "bloopers" (mistakes in the writers' statements, always underlined) on the gameboard within a 60-second time limit, while avoiding time-penalty "blocks" placed on the board by his/her opponent. An example of a "blooper": "Elmer Fudd is the host of The Tonight Show." (correct answer: Johnny Carson). The gameboard was a six-tier, 28-space display – a 5-by-5 grid of "bloopers," ranging from $10 (in the leftmost column) to $50; and Level 6 (the top row) having just three mis-statements of $250, $350 and $500. Host Kennedy read two categories, and the challenger decided which role s/he would play first, either as Blocker or Charger. Their roles were defined thusly: • Blocker – While the other player was off-stage, places up to six "blocks" on the gameboard, spaces he/she hoped the Charger would find as they made their way up the gameboard. Only one of the Level 6 questions could have a block, while no more than three could be placed in any of the five lower levels. • Charger – Once the blocks were in place, he/she tried to navigate his/her way up the gameboard, starting at the bottom level and correcting the underlined "bloopers." An incorrect answer meant having to choose another question on that level (he/she could not advance until a correct answer was given), but while it no doubt cost the Charger time, the Blocker was really hoping his/her opponent would uncover one of the "blocks." Those "blocks," when uncovered, were visually depicted by the show's mascots – a gang of motley mobsters, each holding a "no" sign. Revealing the block earned the Charger a five-second penalty (which they sweated out while their opponent, and oftentimes the audience, gleefully counted out the seconds). If time is running short and the Charger believes there is no way he/she can complete the five rows, he/she can yell out "Longshot!" That stopped the clock and automatically allowed that player to answer one of the Level 6 questions ... after the Blocker chooses one to hide a block behind. Should the Charger uncover a block, the Blocker wins the round (and cash for each uncovered block); otherwise, the Charger could correct the "blooper" to win the round and whatever cash he/she had collected on the board. The Blocker also won if the Charger gave a wrong answer or failed to answer in time. The roles were switched for the second round (i.e., the Blocker became the Charger and vice versa). If necessary, a tie-breaking third round was played, with either the champion or the player that lost the coin toss given the choice of roles. The winner of the best-of-three round advanced to the Gauntlet of Villians bonus round. In the Gauntlet of Villians, the player was given 60 seconds-plus one second for every $100 won (e.g., $850 meant 68 seconds) to solve 10 more "bloopers" (one per member of the show's mascot villians, now represented by large cardboard cutouts). The player had two seconds to correct the blooper. A correct response allowed the player to advance; a wrong answer or failing to answer in time (the answer was shown on the villian's screen) meant he/she had to stay put until giving a correct answer. Each correct answer was worth $100, but answering all 10 correctly won the $25,000 grand prize. A player stayed on for up to five shows or winning the grand prize. In November 1979, the producers of Whew! reverted to an age-old scheme to breath live into the ratings-starved game show: adding celebrity partners. The celebs played for an entire week. The players and their celebrity partners worked together to place "blocks" (when they were the Blockers) or correct the bloopers (when they were the Chargers). Other changes: • A team that swept the first two rounds played the third round against the house for more cash and extra bonus time; the show's staff now hid the "blocks" while the team took the Charger's role. • The champion decided whether he/she would tackle the first five and have his/her celebrity partner answer the remaining bloopers, or vice versa. Regardless of the outcome, the champion was paired with the other celebrity when playing against a new challenger. The best-known contestant during the year-long run of Whew! was Randy Amasia, a college student who won $26,190 during his abbrieviated championship reign (since he had won the grand prize on his first try at the Gauntlet of Villians and thereby exceeded CBS's $25,000 winnings ceiling). Amasia – who was one of the show's most brilliant contestants – later presided over several game show-related newsgroups, but it was his search for the videotape containing his championship run (he didn't have a copy) that soon made him famous. The search became more frantic in 2001 when he was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer. The story does not have a happy ending. Oh yes, a studio master containing the show in question was found. However, Amasia never got to savor his moment of glory. Shortly after a copy of the tape was prepared, Amasia succumed to his illness, leaving no doubt many game show fans to mourn a true legend of game showdom.moreless