C'mon, Ted! Get it through your head!
Don't you remember what the other man said?!
SHOW: TURN IT UP!
AIR DATES: June 30, 1990 to December 7, 1990
CREATOR: Chauncey Street Productions; MTV
HOST: Jordan Brady
WATCH IT AT: YouTube
Hot off the overwhelming success of "Remote Control" (and its brief
syndicated run), MTV decided to try another different game show; one
that had MUSIC trivia instead of mostly TV-based trivia. The result was
"Turn It Up!", which, in a purely gameplay sense, was the first
incarnation of "Rock 'N' Roll Jeopardy!" No, really; players faced a
board with columns of categories and rows of ever increasing point
values. It also borrowed a bit from "Name That Tune" as it had a LIVE
rock band (Stuffi Schmitt and the Zombo Combo) helping things out. And,
like "Remote Control", it had an up-and-coming comedian as a host...who
never really got up and/or came. Interesting premise, to say the least,
but could've done with a little more originality game-wise.
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
ROUNDS 1 & 2
Three players start the game. They face a board with four columns of
music-based trivia, each with three questions for 10, 20 and 30 points
apiece. A player is randomly chosen to pick the first category for 10
points. A toss-up question is asked. Buzzing-in with the right answer
gives the contestant points and control over the next category (for the
least-valuable question not asked in that category). No penalty for a
wrong answer; if the right answer isn't given, the contestant who chose
the last question chooses again. The round continues until time expires
or all twelve questions are asked.
The second round is like the first with a few tweaks. First, the
categories are mostly based on videos played on the board. Second, the
categories are usually the same in each episode with one or two changes.
The most common categories were:
TOTAL RECALL: Twenty seconds of a video is played and questions are
asked about what was seen. Once this category is chosen, the contestants
must go through all three questions, with the one with the last right
answer choosing the next category.
SING THIS: Like "Sing Along With Colin" on RC, a video is played and the
contestants must buzz-in and sing the next line.
SAY WHAT?: Contestants have to repeat hard-to-understand lyrics sung
during a video.
TALK RADIO: An audio clip of a musician is played and the contestants
must identify the artist.
SPARE PARTS: Part of a photo of an artist is shown. With the host giving
a clue, the contestants must figure out the artist.
PICK A PLAYER: The host picks a member of the band, who then asks
questions about musicians who ALSO play their instrument. (Stuffi gives
questions about lead singers, the drummer about drummers, etc.)
Again, the round ends when time expires or all 12 questions are read. At
this point, the contestant with the least amount of points is
FINAL ROUND - ADD-A-TRACK
The two contestants' scores are hidden for the duration and added back
on at the end. The band then plays a song, starting with just one
instrument and adding in another one every five seconds. The contestants
have 30 seconds to identify the song. Doing so gets them a small prize
and points: 25 for the first, 50 for the second, 75 for the third and
100 for the last. At the end, whoever has the most cumulative points
from all three rounds wins a prize. If ONE contestant answers all FOUR
Add-a-Tracks correctly, they win a BIGGER prize, like a trip.
Again, kudos to the set designers. It was made to LOOK like a rock
concert, right down to the contestants standing behind what looked like
keyboards. Just like RC, the budget was relatively small and, as such,
the set had to be simple but STILL stick to the theme. And damned if
they didn't pull it off.
Much like Steve Treccase on RC, the Zombo Combo did their best to put
music to the right answers. And they were pretty good at improvisation.
Not Paul Schaffer or Jon Batiste levels but...pretty good. And they were
as into the show as the crowd seemed to be. That's what happens when you
take up most of the middle of the set, I guess.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
Jordan Brady...well,...he tried. But his question reading left a great
deal to be desired. If he was trying to top Ken Ober, he missed by a
mile. He always looked and talked like he was half-asleep and
half-stoned...which, I guess, could describe rockers in the late 80s and
early 90s so at least he was in character! But, still, coulda been
When you get down to it, the show was more like RC than R'n'RJ! except
that you could see ALL the "channels" being played. You couldn't go to
"Pick a Player" for 30; you had to start at 10 and work your way down.
Imagine how much more interesting it would be if contestants get cocky -
or desperate when time is running low - and shoot for the most difficult
The second round NEEDED to have different categories than the six or
seven they had going over and over. This lesson was, apparently, NOT
learned by Sande Frank for "Name That Video" (see previous GGB). It made
the game repetitious and, thus, unwatchable.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Well,...maybe NOT on MTV. But...if they get a decent enough band who
doesn't mind being paid below scale, maybe they COULD bring it back
somewhere. But I would make it less RC and more R'n'RJ! More and more
interesting categoric, maybe four questions per, let the contestants
pick their value...and, obviously, SOME way to compensate for the lack
of videos. Not sure what channel would take it...maybe one of the more
obscure channels on your smart TV or your Roku device. But,...yeah, if
they put a little more heart into, I could see it happen.
NEXT TIME: Go
meets College Bowl meets Mastermind meets absolute insanity...
Chris Wolvie tried turning it up as a kid...and now he's three steps
away from tinnitus.
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