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The Magnificent Marble Machine
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Double Dare (1976)

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with Chris Wolvie
For the HARDCORE Television Watcher
June 15
From Hollywood, the television capital of the world, it's time to go reeling through the greatest television shows of all-time on...

AIR DATES: January 23, 1989 to September 9, 1989
CREATOR: Saban Productions; Ellen Levy & David M. Greenfield
HOST: Marc Summers


Let's face it: "Remote Control" was the PERFECT show for its time. You had college students answering questions mostly about TV that they veg out on in their rooms as kids or some music they STILL vegged out with as young adults. But if you want a show that REALLY focuses on TV from the dawn to the present, you look no further than "Couch Potatoes", a syndicated game show starring "Double Dare"'s Marc Summers. But, instead of three individuals fighting it out on La-Z-Boys, two TEAMS of three fought it out on wide couches. Still, the object was the same: earn more points than opponents by answering TV trivia and earn a chance to win a lot of money.

Two teams of three (including returning champions, though only up to five days), both named for TV shows or a group of people on TV shows (like "Three's Company" or "Sweathogs" from "Welcome Back, Kotter"), compete in four or six rounds of TV trivia.

Each round of the first half of the total rounds starts with a "Tune-In" toss-up question that anyone can buzz-in on. A right answer gives the team 25 "ratings points" and control while a wrong answer gives both to the opposing team. The host then asks three "Spin-Off" questions based on the first question. Only the team in control can buzz-in and answer, and each member of the team can only answer one question. A right answer gets another 25 points and maintains control. A wrong answer always the other team to buzz-in to try to answer it correct to take control and the points. The second half of rounds are worth 50 points per right answer. At some point during the show, a well known TV personality comes in and asks a trio of "Spin-Off" questions about their careers or their show(s).

The final round is the "Couch-Up" round. The team members cycle in one-on-one buzz-in questions on general TV knowledge. As the question is asked, a point value changes every half-second or so. The values are between 50 and 200 points in 50-point increments. ONE of the values, however, is "Couch-Up" and, if the trailing team member gets it right, the teams scores are evened up (no points are added if the leading team gets it right). After six questions (each team member playing twice), whichever team has more points is the champion, wins $1000 and goes to the bonus round. The other team, as they don't have enough ratings, is "cancelled" and receives parting gifts.

Twelve "channels" that represent the channels of the VHF dial (2 through 13) are shown. One-by-one, team members would call out a channel and are shown a picture of a TV show cast. Each picture had a value attached, between $100 and $1000. The higher the value, the more obscure the cast/TV show. If the team member gets the TV show right, they earn the value of the money and controls passes. They can pass at any time and come back to it if they have time left. One channel, however, is labeled "PAY TV"; if a team member picks that channel, all the money accumulated is lost, though the game continues. The team has thirty seconds to accumulate at least $1000; doing so augments the winnings to $5000. If they are unsuccessful, they still keep the money they accumulated..

The set...well, what would you EXPECT from a show all about TV? It's a living room like one out of a sitcom and a WHOLE lot of TVs. While it might've been a few TOO many TVs for my taste, it drove the point of the show home: the titular couch potatoes would PROBABLY be watching multiple TVs at the same time back then, even before cable REALLY took off.

This truly WAS a show for "couch potatoes". It didn't just talk about the more popular shows like "I Love Lucy" or "Hill Street Blues"; it dove headlong into shows you may have never HEARD of, like "I Married Joan" or "Beverly Hills Teens" or...well, hell, even some of the game shows I've been TELLING you about for the longest time now.

Not sure why...but Mark Summers looked like the kind of person you'd expect to host this game. No telling if HE was a big TV nut. But, as this was a fun show, it needed a fun host. And hosting "Double Dare" all those years seemed to be just the training Mark needed.

And, of course, seeing the old TV stars again was pretty cool.

The only thing I didn't really like about the show was the "Couch Up" round. Nine times out of ten, it was over at the last question because, if a team was ahead by more than 200 points, they just needed to ring in...not even answer the question, just block the other team from "Couch-ing Up". It would've been better if there was a penalty for getting an answer wrong and the other team could ring in after a "re-roll" or something.


I would certainly LIKE to see something like this again...but, with 500+ channels, who can keep track of ALL the TV these days? Oh, sure, they can narrow it down to the more popular shows but...what's the point? There's really no such thing as a "couch potato" anymore; no one watches THAT much TV these days.

NEXT TIME: The original show based on an Atlantic City-based game...

Chris Wolvie had one shot to sit on his lazy butt and watch all the TV he ever wanted...but he went to college instead. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at