Take a risk... Take a chance... Take a
dare... Play the game of...
SHOW: DOUBLE DARE
AIR DATES: December 13, 1976 to April 29, 1977
CREATOR: Jay Wolpert for Goodson/Todman Productions
HOST: Alex Trebek
WATCH IT HERE: YouTube
When you ask the average game show fan to describe "Double Dare", you
hear stuff about pairs of kids in helms and pads doing "physical
challenges" for points. Sometimes, you'll hear "Super Sloppy" and "2000"
thrown into the description...as well as "gak" and "slime". But VERY few
people know that the title was used once before for a COMPLETELY
different type of game show. One could say this was host Alex Trebek's
FIRST "intelligent" game show before making J! his bread-and-poutine.
Sort of a mix between "Twenty-One" and "Joker's Wild", the interesting
thing about this CBS show is that, like "Hit Man", you could actually
LEARN something that you never knew about the damnedest things.
But...maybe it was TOO intelligent for the audiences of the 1970s (or,
at least, the audiences that didn't grow up on Art Fleming's "J!" show).
Interesting first try for Jay Wolpert, but he did better.
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two contestants (one a returning champion) are each in separate
isolation booths. They are shown sentence-clues that describe a person,
place, thing or event. When a contestant believes they have figured out
what it is, they hit a buzzer, closing off the opponent's booth. If they
are right, they earn $50 and are shown the NEXT clue. If they desire,
they can "dare" the opponent to guess the subject and, if they can't,
the one who dared gets $100 and the chance to "double dare" the opponent
on the NEXT clue for $200 more. If the buzzed-in contestant gets it
wrong, their booth is closed and the opponent gets the next clue a
"penalty clue" to answer for $50 (this acts as the "dare" clue if they
get it right). If the opponent gets a subject right on the "dare" clue,
they get $50; they get $100 if they get it on the "double dare" clue.
The first one to $500 or more wins the game, becomes champion and
advances to the Bonus Round. Both contestants get to keep the money won
and the loser also gets parting gifts.
BONUS ROUND ("BEAT THE SPOILERS")
Three people with PhDs ("The Spoilers") play a game similar to the main
game. The champion is actually SHOWN the subject and eight covered
clues. The Spoilers are in isolation booths as well and, though the
windows are always open, they can't see the subject or clues. The
champion chooses one of the clues and decides whether or not to give the
clue to the Spoilers. If they do, the Spoilers are told the clue and are
each given one chance to guess the subject. If they miss, the champion
is give $100. If they get it, THEY get the $100 and no longer play in
the round. The contestant can pass on up to four clues. If even one
Spoiler cannot identify the subject with four clues, the champion gets
their winnings augmented to $5000. Otherwise, they still keep the money
accumulated during the round (up to $900).
Like most others from him, the set SCREAMED "Wolpert"...and, yet, having
the production value of Goodson/Todman to back it up made it a bit
better, really. Yeah, the booths looked a bit overdone but, actually, it
looked pretty cool for a 70s show. Very much ahead-of-its-time-looking.
Alex Trebek was in his prime here. This was the first-ever show I
remember seeing him host. And, even though I was five, I had enough
experience with folks like Bob Barker, Allen Ludden and Tom Kennedy to
get the idea how a host is supposed to act. He was dead serious when the
game was on, but had his moments of levity...very much like he does on
"J!" now, matter of fact.
The clues start rather obscure before getting more and more obvious. You
could actually learn something about your favorite actor or a city you
wanted to visit...something that might lead the actor to be OFF your
faves or the place to be REMOVED from your retirement plans.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
It's obvious from the start that this is a show almost exclusively for
brainiacs...which was, as stated, NOT what the 70s audiences really
looked for. Though the clues came relatively fast and furious, they WERE
long to talk out. It might've been more laid-back in the 70s but a
TRIFLE more speed couldn't hurt.
You may recognize the opening spiel's music and look. It would be more
famous as how the original "Card Sharks" started. Dunno WHY it worked
for "Card Sharks" but didn't really work for THIS show.
In fact, many of the sound effects were lifted from and/or to other
Goodson/Todman shows. The "board open" SFX was from "Joker's Wild" and
would be put in "Price is Right", the sound of losing the bonus was part
of the "losing horns" from TPIR...it's kinda sad that the SFX are the
only things for which this show is remembered...even if not consciously.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Not sure, really...but, as shows seem to mix intelligence with action
these days, if they keep the clues a bit more brief...it might work.
Heck, maybe Alex can stop by to do a round or two for old times sake,
like Barker coming back to TPIR on April Fool's Day a few years ago. Not
sure what channel would take it, though; not sure even GSN would be
interested in it.
NEXT TIME: Team
Chris Wolvie is waiting for "Triple Dog Dare" starring Peter
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