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Author Topic: The Many Formats of Majority Rules  (Read 3366 times)

JasonA1

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The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« on: November 16, 2015, 04:56:26 PM »
In deference to a post on the Video and Audio Clips forum, here's a project I took on earlier this year - documenting all the format changes on Majority Rules. This covers about 90 episodes (give or take), which appears to be the entire run.

On show 001:
In round 1, 49 people in the audience formed the voting pool. An opinion question was asked with two choices (i.e. who is better qualified to host a television show for children? Pee-Wee Herman or Michael Jackson?). Marc Summers would ask a member of the audience holding up their hand to state their choice and defend their opinion. Arthel Neville would then ask an audience member who picked the other choice to defend their position. The "forty-niners" were then asked to vote between the two answers. Those voting for the majority answer, including those asked to speak, stayed in the game, while those voting for the other answer sat out.

After three questions, the remaining players were asked to stand up, as the remaining questions would be "speed votes," with no talking beforehand. Players voting in the majority stayed in the game, while those who did not would sit down. When the pool got down to seven or fewer audience members, those players moved down to the stage for round 2.

Marc asked the remaining players two-choice questions from the show's own polls, or outside sources, looking for the majority answer. The first player to buzz in selected one of the choices. If it was the majority answer in the poll, their check mark remained lit while the other players competed to join them in the next phase of the game. If a wrong answer was given, there was no penalty, and another question was asked. Once three players lit up their check marks, they moved to the bottom row of the set for more questions. The first of these three players to give a correct answer moved to the "speaker's circle." For the last question between the two remaining players, a wrong answer defaulted the game to their opponent.

In the "speaker's circle," Arthel read an open-ended question for the players to consider during the break (i.e. where is the best place to propose?). Both players were separated, and told their answers to the producers, so as to prevent a duplicate. The player who qualified first had the choice to speak first or speak second. Each player got 20 seconds to plead their case and drum up votes for their answer. After each player had a turn to speak, the audience voted for their favorite answer. The contestants collected $100 for every vote they received in this portion of the game. The player with the most votes advanced to the bonus round.

For the bonus, one last question was put to the audience with three choices (i.e. who does more screaming? Football fans, rock musicians or cab drivers?). The winner's job was to arrange those answers on the board in order of popularity. The percentage of votes those answers received became digits in a blank check. So if 52% of the audience chose the top answer, the correct check would begin with the digits 5-2 in the thousands and hundreds places, continuing down to the least popular answer filling in the cents spaces. If they arranged the answers properly, thereby writing the biggest check possible, they won that amount, plus a $10,000 bonus. If two answers tied, either order was considered correct. Before the percentages were revealed, Marc offered to double their cash from "speaker's circle" if they would walk away from the bonus round. Either way, they kept the money earned in round 2.

On show 004:
Only one correct answer was required for the players in round 2 to advance to "the speaker's circle."

The bailout offer in the bonus round was now personified by a smaller check in Marc's hand. (This likely occurred after a contestant in the second show taped said she wanted Marc's bailout during a stop tape, and thought "going for the check" meant taking that money.)

On show 009:
Questions in the "forty-niner" portion were now open-ended. The first person selected by a host gave their answer and defended it, while the other host picked another contestant who "told and sold" a different answer. The audience voted on their favorite of the two. Whoever gave the more popular answer went down to the stage behind one of the check mark podiums. After four such questions, round 1 ended.

Marc now conducted a brief interview with each player before asking two-choice questions from national polls. Buzzing in first with the right answer advanced you to the "speaker's circle," while a wrong answer introduced a new question for all players.

The "speaker's circle" now had a 15-second time limit on the speeches. Second place earned a $500 gift certificate, while the amount for winning the game was fixed at $2,500. This made Marc's bailout at the big check fixed at $5,000. The player now selected a bonus question at random before the big check round began.

On show 019:* (*I was missing most of show 18, but it didn't appear to have any changes)
Starting here, a flashback intro with previous winners is occasionally used. The backplate is removed from the opening logo. Check marks are added to scrims on either side of set.

When a player makes it down to the stage, they pick up the $300 in cash waiting on an empty podium. In round two, there are now five questions in total. When a player buzzes in, they pick one of the choices and wait for a challenge - in other words, if one of the other three players wants to buzz-in and select the other choice. A correct answer earned $100, while a wrong answer lost $100. If there was no challenge, Marc awarded the money, or took it as appropriate. If the answer was challenged, the players exchanged the appropriate money. If a contestant ran out of cash, they had to leave the game. After five questions, the top two scoring players moved on to "speaker's circle." In the event of a tie, the players with tied scores played sudden death questions. A right answer advanced them to the next round, while a wrong answer sent them out of the game. All players with money at the end of the round kept their cash.

The option to go first or second in "speaker's circle" went to the player with the most money from round two. In the event of a tie, a coin toss determined who had the option. The $500 for second place and $2,500 for the win were added to cash earned from the previous round.

On show 020:
Round 2 goes up to 6 questions.

On show 029:
The open is truncated to eliminate the opening question. The host copy now makes it clear the bonus round is for a check worth "between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars." It is also made clear that all players sitting in the voting section will get to participate at least once during the week (given the new format described below).

A open-ended opinion question is asked to the first row of the audience (e.g. What famous personality looks the most ridiculous doing an infomercial?). Using their voting keypads, the players in that row jump in to respond with their own answer. Marc & Arthel interview the first three players who buzzed in the order they responded. The remaining audience members vote for their favorite answer. The players who responses rank as number one and two go down on the stage to claim $500 in cash. One more question is played in this fashion with a different row in the audience.

The player (or players, in a tie) who got the most votes in round 1 got a $100 bonus added to their stash. Now, score displays aided in keeping track of the money in hand. Marc asked as many two-choice questions as he could before a buzzer sounded, with the previous rules for challenging and winning or losing $100 in place. At the buzzer, Marc asked a three-choice opinion question to the voting players in the audience called "the grand question." While they locked in their votes, the four players on stage used cards to lock in the answer they thought would get the majority vote. Any players with the right answer won a share of $1,000, with a three-way split giving each sharing player $350. If two answers tied in the vote, they would both qualify the player for a share of the thousand. The two players with the most money went to the "speaker's circle."

The remaining part of the game proceeded as before, with Marc's bailout doubling the $2,500 won in the speaker's circle, and the money from round 2 staying untouched.

On show 030:
Marc & Arthel now quiz the first four rows of the audience one row at a time, looking for the first two to lock-in. The audience votes between the two answers, with the winner going to the stage. After four players make it to the stage, the game proceeds as it did before, sans the $100 bonus for the player who got the most votes in round 1.

On show 039:
The names of 40 audience members were put on cards before the show and shuffled. Marc read the first name and Arthel went to that player in the audience with a two-choice question a'la round 2. If the selected player gave the right answer, they joined Marc on stage at one of the podiums, taking the $500 waiting for them. If the selected player gave a wrong answer, they sat down, and the next random audience member got to play. The timing was such that the next portion of the game, with the $100 answers and challenges, went for two questions in the first act, with the interviews happening when they returned for act two.

On show 044:
The audience pool goes back to 49 players. A returning champion waits on stage to meet three challengers. (While not stated on air, this first champion is randomly selected from the contestant pool.) An open-ended opinion question is asked to the "forty-niners," who all try to be first to jump-in using their voting keypads. The first player to buzz in gives an answer. Another player can then jump in with their own answer. The audience votes on their favorite response of the two. The player giving that response goes on stage. This continues through three face-offs, after which, Marc starts the second portion of the game alone in act 1.

The game proceeds the same way from there, with the higher scoring player after round 2 still making the decision on who goes first in the speaker's circle. A champ could only make two appearances on the program. When that happened, the player who lost the speaker's circle returned as the de facto champ on the next show. This meant a player who was made the de facto champ only played one more day before being replaced again.

On show 060: (Not format changes per se...)
The opening changes again, with one host by the big check asking "would you like to try to win almost $20,000?" The other host then explains how "On our last show, [returning champion] (almost) did that..." and that three people will challenge them, each coming from the studio audience.

In the previous taping cycle, Marc found himself without his small bailout check. Perhaps over-correcting the one episode error, his bailout check now has a permanent shelf on the big check. The small check pays to "WINNER" for "five thousand dollars," whereas big check winners receive a slightly smaller prop check that pays to "BIG WINNER" for "oodles of money." When the contestant is shown one of their possible answers, their face now appears in a small box alongside the check.

Episode 52 is also the earliest tape to contain a home-viewer contest. Four digits from the winning bonus round check are drawn to make a combination. Viewers with a dollar bill whose serial number ends in this exact combination can call in to claim their share of $12,000 in cash. Viewers who only match the last three digits of this combination can still redeem their bill for a free combo meal from Burger King. This contest only runs in the Phoenix viewing area where the show airs, so there's now a hiccup on the national versions where Marc stays at the big check (to make the announcement of the winning number for Phoenix), joining Arthel and the champion in the audience after a dip to black.

The big check's animation changes. Whereas before it would cycle through various five-figure numbers (as high as $90,000), it now counts up from $4,000 to $20,000 in a progressive jackpot fashion, cycling back around when it reaches 20-grand. This was to better reflect what the contestant could actually win. For you fans of lady's looks, Arthel begins wearing her hair down at this point.

On show 071:
Minor updates to the set aplenty, as the buzzers move over on the podiums to accommodate a new device for "The Grand Question." The back of the audience area is closed off with a sky backdrop as the contestants no longer come from the voting pool. The voting pool is now filled with regular audience members. The graphics and fonts are all updated. The opening changes to accommodate the new format, and features a big win clip from a past episode.

The game now begins from the stage straight away, with three new contestants joining a returning champion, each with a $500 stake. Marc & Arthel now alternate asking the $100 two-choice questions together from a big podium on stage. All the same rules from the previous version of this round apply.

When they return from the first act break, the rules change. The choices for each question now read "A, B or something else?" When a player buzzes in, they can give one of the pre-selected answers, or come up with one on their own. A second player can buzz-in and challenge with the same options. If one player buzzes in alone, they win $200 automatically - $100 from the hosts, and $100 from the player of their choice. If two players participate, the audience votes between the two answers. The winner of the vote collects $100 from the loser of the vote. In one episode of this format, a vote ends in a tie, meaning no money changes hands. It appears they no longer stopped down to tabulate the votes as they did in the past, so my assumption is one of the 49 voters didn't lock in, resulting in a perfect split.

The Grand Question is still played at the time's up signal in act two. The players now slide their answer cards into a new permanent appendage on their podium and tilt it up when Marc calls for their answer When a correct answer is revealed, the money is now automatically added, as opposed to being added after all the guesses have been revealed. The two players with the most money play in the "speaker's circle." If there's a tie, the tie-breaker question is now completely open-ended. The first player to jump-in gives an answer, and the other player follows with their own response. An audience vote between the two determines the winner.

The speaker's circle/speaker's face-off plays as before. A new music cue is played underneath the answers, and a different cue is used while the winner plays the bonus game. In the big check round, Marc no longer demonstrates the payoff structure by sliding an answer in place. He also asks the winner what they believe is the most popular answer before they go over to arrange the answers on the check.

On show 072:
The returning champ on episode 71 is asked to take a breather while they bring in special contestants for "Super 70s Week." In the opening, Marc & Arthel tease the viewer with a big question mark on stage, behind which is a star from the 70s. They come out to read the Grand Question, which has something to do with their 70s fame. One of these episodes is on the circuit, featuring Jimmy Walker. The set is dressed with disco balls and other 70s items, with dancers performing in the back of the set. Contestants are also furnished a more "seventies wardrobe."

During this week, the returning champion (or on day 1, the player standing in that position) picks from two categories before the first question in act two. Whoever wins that vote picks the category for the next question. The speaker's circle now has two microphones in it, so the players no longer have to move in and out between turns. As it is a special week, it's not clear whether this was a permanent rule change or not, but one champion manages to stay on for three appearances.

On show 077:
Start of another "Phoenix Week," with the audience all flown in to Burbank from the show's Phoenix viewing area. Unlike "Super 70s Week," the returning champion slot is eliminated. The categories in act two are also eliminated from this point on.

On show 082:
Returning champions come back, and the opening changes again, with Marc & Arthel standing by the champion and introducing the flashback clip from a past show. They then introduce the remaining challengers by name before acknowledging the studio audience and going into the show title. The jib camera starts to get "edgier," flying faster and staying on askew angles when shooting the four contestants.

This week is "Cinema Week," with movie questions in the game and movie paraphernalia on the set.

I honestly don't recognize the champion who joins here. Marc says he's won $13,000 from two previous days, and announces there's a three-day limit. As evidenced by future shows, when a player reaches day three, four new players compete on the next episode.

In the speaker's circle, a lighting cue highlights each contestant as Marc reviews the two answers the audience is voting on. The consolation prize for second place is changed from a $500 gift certificate to $250 in cash.

===================

That covers the formats. The last week of shows was "Every Day is a Holiday Week." On episode 64, Oscar Nunez of "The Office" was a stage contestant. Episode 70 was a Halloween special.

I think my favorite format was the returning champions format where the audience qualified by answering open-ended questions. I liked the money flying around in challenges. The two-day limit was absurd, and gave us many awkward "loser becomes the champion" moments a'la Now You See It.

It's a shame this never got a national roll-out, or at least a quick rerun cycle on GSN or something, because I think it's Marc Summers' best work outside of Nickelodeon. It's an interesting picture in time, as a number of polls come from the internet and sometimes discuss a growing (but still small) online culture. The show seemed to have a distinct problem getting female winners in the open-ended question shows, which may have necessitated some of the later changes. Perhaps Arthel's diminishing role as they shifted focus to the Marc-helmed second round had something to do with it as well.

In talking to those close to the show, the staff seemed to regret relenting to the first round of changes. Once the execs saw how "easy" it was to get a new format, the tweaking seemingly never stopped.

-Jason
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Sodboy13

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2015, 11:30:03 PM »
I'd never heard of this show before the episode posting on here. Given the listing of format changes over, what, 18 weeks?, I imagine this would make a fascinating case study in How Not To Run Anything.
"Speed: it made Sandra Bullock a household name, and costs me over ten thousand a week."

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Mr. Matté

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2015, 12:45:17 PM »
I was just making a light-hearted joke about there being multiple formats on the other thread; I didn't actually think that there'd actually be a new format almost every week.

TLEberle

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2015, 09:34:10 PM »
Jason, thank you for your meritorious service.

You have a host who is clearly in his element with a large crowd. It has the feel of a talk show without me wanting to bathe afterward and there's no disrobing or swearing. The first round is better when you have two people bantering about their choice, and it works as the last round as well. For all the changes the show made why did they not eliminate the stupid second round where there's no discussion at all? Why not expand the opening round to allow both players two-fifteen second chunks: one to establish their choice and one to rebut? Card Sharks is dull when you have no discussion about the questions, and the pace of Power of Ten was such that you could ponder your answer or argue with your friends or couchmates: why Majority Rules did what they did is inexplicable.
Travis L. Eberle
Director of Ludic underlings.

Adam Nedeff

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2015, 11:00:21 PM »
You have a host who is clearly in his element with a large crowd.
Interesting note about the host: I've seen audition reels for this show. They actually brought in a live audience for the auditions just to see how each host would interact with them. Marc's audition was good, but you know who honestly did a killer audition and who I would have hired just from the tapes I saw? Wayne Cox.

JasonA1

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2015, 11:08:06 PM »
The first round is better when you have two people bantering about their choice, and it works as the last round as well. For all the changes the show made why did they not eliminate the stupid second round where there's no discussion at all? Why not expand the opening round to allow both players two-fifteen second chunks: one to establish their choice and one to rebut?

I liked the middle format (make up your own answers, then answer 2-choice questions) because it had the best of both of these worlds. Most contestants had an iffy time filling 20 seconds, and even the later time limit of 15, so giving them more time to argue on points they just came up with would probably be dicey. Normally you'd fix that with casting, but the show required such a large pool of potential talkers. Personally, I'd rather keep their talking time manageable if it saved the "49 players" aspect, which was something unique Majority Rules offered.  A rebuttal could make it feel a little more confrontational and less fun as well.

I liked that the pre-written questions based on polls allowed for a more hands-on play along, more of an exciting game, and it moved fast. I love polling questions, and I think the multiple types they asked on this show each had merit. Just like Family Feud has a "WHAT??" factor, they found (and conducted their own) great polls for the buzz-in questions that had me talking back at the television. That round also gives you the natural twist of "now that you have the majority's vote, it's time to see if you can think like our majority."

-Jason
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tvwxman

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2015, 11:19:49 PM »
They actually brought in a live audience for the auditions just to see how each host would interact with them. Marc's audition was good, but you know who honestly did a killer audition and who I would have hired just from the tapes I saw? Wayne Cox.
Interesting. Who else did they bring in?
-------------

Matt

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TLEberle

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Re: The Many Formats of Majority Rules
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 02:50:26 AM »
Personally, I'd rather keep their talking time manageable if it saved the "49 players" aspect, which was something unique Majority Rules offered.  A rebuttal could make it feel a little more confrontational and less fun as well.
I'm not sure I agree. It doesn't have to turn into The McLaughlin Group, but given how fun and light most of the questions were it would have been interesting to allow a little more than a single sentence of explanation. Everyone has an opinion and most people are eager to give theirs, and it wasn't like the show went to any hot-button issues. Marc was good enough to have a feel for how long to let it go on.

Quote
I liked that the pre-written questions based on polls allowed for a more hands-on play along, more of an exciting game, and it moved fast. I love polling questions, and I think the multiple types they asked on this show each had merit. Just like Family Feud has a "WHAT??" factor, they found (and conducted their own) great polls for the buzz-in questions that had me talking back at the television. That round also gives you the natural twist of "now that you have the majority's vote, it's time to see if you can think like our majority."
My favorite format was the one that felt most like a game show, where you have the eggcrate tote and people waving money around, but you also have the jeopardy of losing money when you're wrong, as opposed to the versions where you just hammer the button to get in first because there's never any risk.
Travis L. Eberle
Director of Ludic underlings.