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with Chris Wolvie
Now for Wolpert, Now for Randy and the Long Shot!
January 5
Close calls! Naaaaaarrow escapes! Split-second decisions! And $25,000 in cash! A combination guaranteed to make you say...

AIR DATES: April 23, 1979 to May 30, 1980
CREATOR: Jay Wolpert
HOST: Tom Kennedy

As stated before, Jay Wolpert was a relative genius at making unique and fun game shows...though few of them lasted. After the original "Double Dare" (a GGB for another time) came and went, Jay decided to try a different approach; a timed game in which one contestant can stall the other at certain intervals. The result was "Whew!"...or, as the host simply called it, "our show". This was far from Tom Kennedy's last gig; that would happen about seven years later. But it was something to do between tapings of "Name That Tune", the show he's best known for. The show is best known to the veterans for Randy Amasia, who was on the show and won after becoming champion. He would create a small website explaining the entire show. His passing in December 2001 of cancer hit our community hard. But, with any luck, the show will be remembered for the fun time everyone had playing it.

Two contestants - including a returning champion - play this game (during its waning months, celebrities were brought in to help the contestants). Before the first round, the categories for the first two rounds were revealed and the champion (or champ-elect) was given a choice as to which round they would be the "Charger" in. Whoever is the Charger of the first round goes into an isolation booth. The opponent, the "Blocker", then looks at the board: five levels of five questions from $10 to $50 and a top sixth level with amounts of $200, $350 and $500. The Blocker places six Blocks on the board. The only rules are a) no more than three Blocks on a single level and b) no more than ONE block on the sixth level. Once the Blocks are placed, they are hidden away from view.

The Charger's task is to start at level 1, pick a question (the more money, the harder the question) and answer it. The question, also called a "Blooper", is a fact with one or more words changed into something humorous (Example: "The B&O was the first American passenger smell"). The object is to replace the underlined word with the correct answer ("railroad", in this case"). Doing so would allow the Charger to move up to the next level. The Charger has 60 seconds to reach the sixth level and answer a Blooper right. If they hit a Block, the audience and Blocker count down a five-second penalty before the Charger can pick another question. If the Charger doesn't think they can make it to the sixth level before time runs out, they can shout, "LONG SHOT!" The Blocker can, then, place a Block in one of the three sixth level Bloopers (or ANOTHER one if they already had). The Charger then chooses one of the three and, if there is no Block, tries to answer the question correctly.

If the Charger answers a sixth-level Blooper correctly (by Long Shot or not), they win the round. Otherwise, the Blocker wins the round. For the second round, the two switch roles. Chargers get to keep all the money from the questions answered correctly, while the Blockers earn the money from the Blocks hit. Should a third round be necessary, the category is revealed and the champion decides if they want to be Charger or Blocker.

The contestant who wins two rounds is the champion and goes on to the bonus round. The loser still keeps money earned AND gets parting gifts as well.

The champion must then face "ten of the most zealous xenophobes (or some other alliterative phrase) to stand between them and their money", the Gauntlet of Villains. They are ten wooden representations of classic villains, each with an arm placed as a barrier. The clock is set at sixty seconds PLUS an extra second for every $100 the champion earned in the previous game (rounded down; $690 would equal six extra seconds). When the round starts, the host reads a Blooper; the differences are that the champ doesn't SEE the Blooper like in the main game but the last word of the sentence is ALWAYS the changed word. The contestant has two seconds after the Blooper is read to give the correct answer. Failure to do so or giving a wrong answer will show the correct answer on the current villain's "telly belly". If a correct answer is given, a bell rings, the villain's arm raises and the champion can advance.

If the champion does not get past all ten villains in the time allotted, they are given $100 for each villain passed and plays in the next game. If, however, the champion gets past all ten, they win the grand prize of $25,000 and (due to CBS practices of the day) is forced to retire.

The title definitely works. If you were the Charger and you made won the round, you were wiping your brow and saying, "Whew!" that you made it in time. If you were the Blocker, chances are you were hoping the Charger hit one of your Blocks on level 6 and, when they did, YOU'D be saying, "Whew!" And, of course, getting past the Gauntlet of Villains and retiring with $25,000 (a lot in the 70s and early 80s) was enough to make ANYBODY "WHEW!" in relief!

Yes, the action was frantic. Sometimes, even the audience would forget where the Blocks were placed and hitting one caused a few gasps from more than just the Charger. And, needless to say, the Charger was chomping at the bit to get past the five-second penalty and move on. "LONG SHOT" was never spoken in normal tones; it was SHOUTED in desperation.

Even though Tom Kennedy did a decent job, he seemed just a bit uncomfortable in the task. I'm guessing humor really wasn't his forte; maybe all those years on "Name That Tune" made him more serious and he just couldn't shift gears for these tapings.

Do I have to say the Bloopers were corny A.F.? Maybe I'm judging it more by today's standards but I can't see how these would get an honest laugh even in the 70s. People were too easily amused then, I guess.

And the set, while passable, was a far step below the high-end set of "Double Dare". Looking back, it almost reminds me of "Remote Control"; it looked almost like it could've been filmed in someone's basement, the shabbiness of the set designs. The most "advanced" things on the set were the podium and the "telly bellies".

I had often thought this show could use a more modern upgrade. Maybe a bit more money on the board and TWELVE villains instead of ten to make up for time added. Despite my niggling about the show, it really wasn't that bad and I think would make a good revival on GSN. If they can't do it for nostalgia,...they should do it for Randy. dammit!

NEXT TIME: You may not live in Beverly Hills but, at least, you can WIN like you do...

Chris Wolvie says the title after every day of work. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at