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Author Topic: The Challengers: a Discussion  (Read 2372 times)

TheInquisitiveOne

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The Challengers: a Discussion
« on: March 03, 2021, 04:58:44 PM »
Good afternoon.

Taking a trip down the YouTube rabbit hole, I started watching a bunch of episodes of the underrated Dick Clark show The Challengers. There were quite a few changes in the one year it was on (more on that later), but there was one reply in one of the episode uploads that took me aback.

In my area (Chicago-NW Indiana), The Challengers aired as a companion show to Jeopardy, the former coming on at 3pm and the latter following at 3:30 pm on WLS 7. However, the commenter said that in his area (which he didnít specify), the Challengers aired AGAINST Jeopardy, which played a role in its quick demise. For those of you who remember, was this the case? Did it air as a lead-in to Jeopardy, or did it air completely separate from Jeopardy where you live?

Also, was it ever mentioned that Disney had a stake in the show? In an ad from my 1990 TV Guide, there was an ad for the show which had a Disney copyright written on the side. Oddly enough, in the weeks that this show was advertised (it was about six weeks for the Chicago Metro edition), the Disney copyright showed up for that one week, and that was that.

Finally, as is the case with some fledgling shows trying to find its footing (thinking of Play the Percentages and the CBS Jokerís Wild as I type this), the show went through various format changes. As I remember: the immediate downgrade of the Ultimate Challenge Jackpot (from $50,000+$5,000 for each unsuccessful attempt, to $25,000+$1,000 per day until hit - which happened immediately after a win with format 1, to $10,000 daily, to completely gone), and the removal and eventual return of the Challengers Sprint (temporarily replaced with a single $100 tossup) I ask you: which format was the best one? Or, if thereís no clear answer, how would you combine the formats to create one definitive format?

IMO: I would keep the sprint and the main game format as is. The winner would play the Ultimate Challenge for $10,000 (using the multilayered answer style instead of the three questions format, which I thought hurt the flow of the rest of the game when it happened). If the champion made it to his or her fifth and final day, the Ultimate Challenge would be played for a flat $50,000, with content difficulty to match.

Sorry if this ran a little long in the tooth, but besides the questions I posited above, I love to hear your overall thoughts on the show. I appreciate your time. Be safe.

The Inquisitive One
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 09:15:14 PM by TheInquisitiveOne »
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BrandonFG

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 05:25:39 PM »
Around here, it aired at 5 pm on WVEC, the same channel that airs Jeopardy! to this day ay 7:30. Then it moved to 10:30 am in spring or summer of '91.

I loved The Challengers and think that this, like Caesar's Challenge, were two shows that were either several years too early or too late. Maybe if it premieres in 1986 or 2000, it grows legs and runs for a few years on a network. But by 1990, J! was the clearly established favorite, and the genre was already headed in a downturn, and I don't think syndication was gonna allow for two difficult quizzers at that point. Never mind all the other trivia shows that premiered in syndication that season (TJW, TTD, Trump Card.
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JasonA1

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 05:56:50 PM »
The Challengers has always been a sentimental favorite of mine, and something I've talked a lot about on this board. Many of their changes were for the better, but I think the rigors of the production schedule contributed to not having enough time to slow down and pick the best possible format to stick with.

In short, letting everybody keep their money was a big hindrance. The question amounts on offer were likely kept low because of the once-in-a-lifetime chance somebody could go hog wild in the main game and triple their total in the Final Challenge. I really think they could have afforded doubling the values on the board and only letting the winner keep their cash. For whatever marketing edge it affords you over Jeopardy! to say it's real money in front of the players, when it's $850, the ratings needle isn't moving enough to warrant it.

I thought the Ultimate Challenge was a dud. And it took up way too much time from actually playing the game that gets you there. When rounds were called early for time on Ultimate Challenge episodes, I didn't feel like any of the day's players got their best shot at the game. Imagine if Jeopardy! let champions play the old five-in-a-row Super Jeopardy! board every so often, and on those shows, time is called with half of the clues still covered. Yuck. If I'm a contestant, I might fake a stomach flu.

In an era where Jeopardy! was retiring five-time champions, The Challengers' lot in life could have been as the show where the best players keep winning and winning as long as they can. If you want to reward streaks of wins, fine, but to do so in a "we play this sometimes"-segment didn't work for me. So that's what I'd do: simply let winners stay on day after day, and play the format the begins with the Sprint.

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Jeremy Nelson

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 06:23:04 PM »
I live in Chicago, so you've already covered my airing history!

Definitely one of my favorite quizzes of all time. I agree that the pacing on Ultimate Challenge days in the Jackpot era did a disserrvice to the contestants playing that day, but I like the final format where it was played every day with one big question for $10k. Speed round quizzing wasn't Dick's forte, so I would have eliminated the Sprint totally and just asked a $100 tossup to decide control or just ceded control of the board to the champ.

JasonA1

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2021, 06:32:36 PM »
I agree that the pacing on Ultimate Challenge days in the Jackpot era did a disserrvice to the contestants playing that day, but I like the final format where it was played every day with one big question for $10k.

FWIW, Wiki is saying the one-question version lasted from November 21, 1990 to February or March of '91. I know it wasn't played on the finale.

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PYLdude

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2021, 08:13:02 PM »
I agree that the pacing on Ultimate Challenge days in the Jackpot era did a disserrvice to the contestants playing that day, but I like the final format where it was played every day with one big question for $10k.

FWIW, Wiki is saying the one-question version lasted from November 21, 1990 to February or March of '91. I know it wasn't played on the finale.

-Jason

As the person who relayed that bit of information...

The latest point in the run that I saw the daily UC played was February 15, 1991, the Friday episode for that week. Dick doesnít say anything about being the last UC, and the next episode chronologically that Iíve been able to see is the April Fool episode, which fell on a Monday; wherever that date of the retiring of the bonus falls is somewhere between.
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mmb5

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2021, 09:31:59 PM »
In Detroit, it aired after Nightline.  Because everybody's up for a hard quiz at midnight.  And if you're able to make it up past Letterman, The $100,000 Pyramid aired at 1:35 AM.
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splinkynip

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2021, 08:26:30 AM »
I also recall Dick not saying anything about being the last daily Ultimate Challenge (which was barely won anyway). Besides,  it would seem cheap if he mentioned that they weren't doing it anymore,  they probably just hoped viewers would forget about it. 

Jimmy Owen

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2021, 04:32:22 PM »
In Detroit, it aired after Nightline.  Because everybody's up for a hard quiz at midnight.  And if you're able to make it up past Letterman, The $100,000 Pyramid aired at 1:35 AM.
Because of the nature of the auto industry, that was actually a good time slot in Detroit.  Supposedly the HUT levels were equal to primetime due to shift workers.
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Neumms

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2021, 03:20:20 AM »
Here's a question: Has any hard quiz game had a good bonus round? I loved Kennedy's Split Second and The Big Showdown, but one with a vague connection to the front game and some element of a quiz?

I've always found The Challengers disappointing. They took a unique game, Who What or Where, subtracted most of the uniqueness, then made a big deal out of slight distinctions not worth caring about. The Ultimate Challenge--potentially a difference maker--was as lazily conceived as could be.

Trump Card is about the best I can think of. Maybe Blockbusters, but the initials and the hex board made it more than a straight quiz.

Dan88

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2021, 04:20:46 AM »
Has any hard quiz game had a good bonus round? [...] one with a vague connection to the front game and some element of a quiz?
Jeopardy! '78, maybe?
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Neumms

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2021, 04:40:27 AM »
Jeopardy! '78, maybe?

Yeah, especially since the board was a bingo card like Trump Card's. I felt the latter's clock helped the pace.

SuperMatch93

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2021, 06:44:05 AM »
Has any hard quiz game had a good bonus round? I loved Kennedy's Split Second and The Big Showdown, but one with a vague connection to the front game and some element of a quiz?

I'd say Blockbusters qualifies; a slight solo variant on the main game while still being a hard quiz.
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Clay Zambo

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2021, 12:06:11 PM »
Here's a question: Has any hard quiz game had a good bonus round?

My hot take: OG Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

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The phone game was the main game.
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aaron sica

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Re: The Challengers: a Discussion
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2021, 12:39:25 PM »
Around here, it aired at 5 pm on WVEC, the same channel that airs Jeopardy! to this day ay 7:30. Then it moved to 10:30 am in spring or summer of '91.

This very nearly mirrors WGAL, and what they did with the show (except WGAL never ran WoF or J!). It started out at 5pm, then moved to 10:30am, but in January '91.