The Challengers (game show)

The Challengers (game show)

"The Challengers" was an American syndicated game show from Ron Greenberg Productions, Dick Clark Productions, and Buena Vista Television. The show was hosted by Dick Clark, who originally was the host of "Pyramid" and "American Bandstand". The show premiered on September 3, 1990 and was cancelled on August 31, 1991. Don Morrow was the announcer, although on occasion, Bob Hilton would replace him.

The game was a semi-revival of Greenberg's earlier show "The Who, What, or Where Game", a popular show of the early 1970s hosted by Art James; in fact, the original 1988 pilot was produced under the title "The New Who, What or Where Game"Fact|date=April 2008..

A twist to this game was that many questions were over current events, which was made possible by the fact that shows were taped shortly before their air date (a week's worth of shows were taped on the Friday of the previous week, which allowed for popular categories of the program "This week on TV" or "Today at the movies"; most of the current event questions were taken from or verified by "Newsweek", as Don Morrow would announce in a plug during the show). This went against standard American game show practice of taping shows well in advance, usually the five episodes for a week taped in a single day and aired several weeks or a month later. For instance, a question might be about a television show that was schedule to air that night, or about a very recent sports event. To emphasize this up-to-date feature, the air date was announced during the show's opening (though this practice was discontinued toward the end of the show's run), and unlike most syndicated game shows, the series continued airing new episodes well into the summer of 1991, a time when most syndicated programming was generally in reruns.

Three contestants, one of whom was always a returning champion, competed.

Rules of the Game

The Challengers Sprint Round

The game started with a 60-second speed round called The Challengers Sprint, similar to 3 Ws' lightning round. Host Clark would ask the contestants a series of rapid-fire questions, contestants buzzing in when they knew the answer. Each correct answer was worth $100, each incorrect answer cost players $100. If a question was in progress of being asked when time was up, Clark would complete the question and it would still be in play. Contestants were not given any money to start; this later changed to each contestant being spotted $200.

After the Sprint, the person in the lead would get control of the round one board. If there is a tie after the Sprint, Clark would ask an additional question to the tied players for $100 and control.

This game-beginning round was removed partway through its run. The players were spotted $200 to start, and Clark asked a single toss-up question. The player who answered correctly scored $100 and control of the round one board. The Challengers Sprint returned "by popular demand" later on.

Round One

On the board were 6 categories, each with three questions per category. The questions varied in dollar value: originally, the questions were worth $150, $200, and $250 (this was later reduced by $50 for each question with each player getting $200 to start), with values added to a contestant's score for a correct answer, or subtracted for a wrong answer. (Each question had an additional subcategory: in the category "How Do You Like Madonna?", for example, one of the question titles was "Like a Virgin.")

The contestants would lock in the question they wanted to play at their podium. If all three players picked a different question, they would all be asked the different questions. If two players picked the same question, a toss-up was played. Players could buzz in at any time, but if they were incorrect, their opponent could either play or pass (not an option if all three pick differently). The third player would then get their question unopposed.

If all three players picked the same question, the values would double, and a toss-up would be played. The same toss-up rules applied, but the player answering correctly could now choose to play any of the other questions in the category and could pass at anytime. An incorrect answer on any of the other questions lost money in the value of the question and forced the contestant to pick a new category.

Round Two

The rules were the same for round 2, except the dollar values were doubled.

After two rounds were played, the game moved on to The Final Challenge. If any player had $0 or less, they would be eliminated from the game after the second round.

The Final Challenge

One category was played, with the three questions having varying degrees of difficulty, and thus different odds on the question. The easiest question paid off at even odds, a harder question paid off 2:1 (bet $500, win $1,000), and the hardest paid off 3:1 (bet $1,000, win $3,000). This time the players would place wagers on the questions they wanted to play, and would have 15 seconds to do so.

A correct answer netted the player the amount of the wager multiplied by the odds, while an incorrect answer only deducted the amount of the original wager.

As always, if all three picked different categories they would play their questions. If two or more players picked the same category, the player who made the highest wager would get the question. At the end of The Final Challenge, whoever was in the lead won the game and got to return the next day. All players kept their winnings, which were usually awarded in the form of a Citibank Visa or Mastercard with the total winnings as the balance. Otherwise, they can decide to keep their winnings in cash. According to all-time winner Stanley Newman, all contestants chose the "cash" option.

Champions on "The Challengers" played until they were defeated.

The Ultimate Challenge

The Ultimate Challenge was "The Challengers"' bonus game, and was played three different ways.

Originally a player had to win three consecutive games to play the Ultimate Challenge, with the bonus game being played as the first segment of the next show. The player would choose from two categories and would have to answer 3 questions correctly to win. If successful, the player would win a cash jackpot that started at $50,000 and originally went up $5,000 each time until won; this later was changed to having the pot increase by $1,000 each "day" the pot went unclaimed, meaning that the pot would accumulate even if The Ultimate Challenge was not played. If the champ could not answer all three questions (with five seconds thinking time for each) the player would receive $1,000 for each correct answer. Later, the jackpot's starting value became $25,000, with $1,000 added to it for each day it went unclaimed. Since a player played until they lost, it was possible for a long-reigning champion to play multiple Ultimate Challenges during their run as champion.

Still later, The Ultimate Challenge became a daily bonus round, with players playing for $10,000 at the end of each show. The champ was asked a single question; a right answer won the $10,000, a wrong answer won nothing extra.

Finally, the Ultimate Challenge was dropped, and the game ended right after the Final Challenge.


The Challengers held two special tournaments over the year it was on the air.

The Challengers Tournament of Champions

During the week of November 12, 1990, "The Challengers" invited its nine biggest winners at the time to play a tournament of champions. Three games were played, with the winners from those games competing in a cumulative two-day final on the Thursday and Friday shows. Whoever ended the second of the two-day final in the lead won the tournament, whatever they had won in the two days, and an additional $25,000 for winning the tournament.

The original intent of the producers, like in most tournaments of champions, was to have the champion from the show before the tournament return after the tournament was completed to resume his reign. However, since then-defending champion Stanley Newman was one of the nine highest winners when the tournament began, he was invited to participate in the tournament. Newman went on to win the tournament, which pushed his winnings over $60,000, and went on to become the series' all time winner with $112,480 (winning two Ultimate Challenges as well).

Teachers Tournament

This tournament, which aired later in the season, featured teachers as contestants and was conducted the same way as the Invitational Tournament with $10,000 as the top prize.

The Challengers Invitational Tournament

Another invitational tournament was held later in the season. The format of the tournament was the exact same as the Tournament of Champions, with 9 players and a two-day final. Lorin Burt won the tournament and a $10,000 bonus for winning, taking $34,600 for the two day final and over $40,000 for total tournament winnings (winning $90,675 total, making him #2 on the show's all-time winnings list).

Episode status

All 260 episodes exist, but neither GSN nor other networks have broadcast "Challengers" since its original run for unexplained reasons (speculation abounds that it might have something to do with the dates of the episodes appearing in the show's opening, although this has neither been confirmed nor denied).Fact|date=May 2008

ee also

* The Who, What, or Where Game

External links

* [ Rules for The Challengers]

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