Yes, the world's most popular board
game is now the TV game...
AIR DATES: June 16, 1990 to September 1, 1990
CREATOR: Merv Griffin
HOST: Mike Reilly
WATCH IT HERE: YouTube
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With the success of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy", one would THINK
Merv Griffin was a genius at game shows. But those were, actually, the
only two he had come up with before the late 1980s. And AFTER that, he
came up with "Click!", "Ruckus", "Headline Chasers" and, in the end, "Merv
Griffin's Crosswords". Yeah, barely heard of ANY of them, right? But the
FIRST he came up with after J! and WoF was a verson of the perennial
board game "Monopoly". It wasn't until the THIRD attempt that ABC
finally said, "FINE, we'll broadcast it in the summer...IF you get
something to lead up to it!" That's where the "Super Jeopardy!"
tournament came into play. But, though that was an awesome lead-up to
it, the game itself left a GREAT deal to be desired.
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Three contestants played, one each behind red, gold and green podiums.
The one with the most money at the end keeps the cash and goes to the
Starting with Mediterranean Avenue and going around the board
counter-clockwise to Boardwalk, each "property" is highlighted and a
crossword clue-style question is asked. All the answers to questions
asked on the same side of the board start with the same letter. The
contestants buzz-in and, if they are right, they "earn" the property and
its cost. Questions that were answered wrong deducted the amount from
the player's score. If NO one gets it right, another question is asked
for the property, but the cost is cut in half.
Once all properties of a "monopoly" are claimed, the total for all the
properties goes to the one who gained them all. If no one contestant
gained them all, a "playoff" is played between the players until one
player has all the properties. For example: if Illinois and Indiana
Avenues are taken by the red player and Kentucky Avenue by the green
player, the playoff goes until a) the green player answers two straight
right or b) the red player answers one. Whoever does that gains the
monopoly and, in this case, $680.
ROUND 2 (MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU ROUND)
During the commercial break after Round 1, the contestants use their
money to puchase housing on their monopolies. Houses cost $50 each and
Hotels $250 each. Afterwards, the contestants play - for about five
minutes - a simplified game of Monopoly together: a red border on the
board represents the "token" and the hostess rolls the dice, which moves
the token that many spaces around the board. What happens at each space
depends on the space:
PROPERTY: The owner of the property gets a question asked to them alone
for the value of the property with housing: Hotels were the actual rent
price with Hotels from the game, 4 Houses was 80% of that, 3 Houses 60%,
etc. If the owner gets it wrong, they are not penalized, but one of the
other contestants can buzz-in and try to steal the rent (though they
risk LOSING money if they're wrong).
COMMUNITY CHEST: Like the cards in the board game, this usually does
something to contestants' money totals.
CHANCE: Also like the cards, this usually advances the token to a
GO: Each player collects $200 for passing this space, $400 for landing
FREE PARKING: A toss-up is asked and the winner gets $500 plus any taxes
or fines paid.
GO TO JAIL: The token is moved to the Jail and each player has $250 in
fines deducted to make bail. This happens by landing on the GO TO JAIL
space, getting a card that says so or if the hostess rolls three doubles
in a row.
ELECTRIC COMPANY or WATER WORKS: A toss-up is asked and the winner gets
$100 times the dice roll that got them there.
LUXURY TAX: $75 is deducted from each player as a tax.
INCOME TAX: 10% of each contestant's money is deducted as a tax.
RAILROADS: A toss-up question is asked. The winner gets to choose an
opposing player's monopoly to try to perform a "hostile takeover" upon.
The token is advanced to the first property of that monopoly (with $200
going to each player should they pass GO) and the player is given two or
three questions that they must answer correctly. If, at any time, the
player answers wrong, they pay the monopoly's owner the rent amount of
the property they are on. Answering all questions right means they win
A signal is sounded when one minute remains. When the round is over, all
the real estate is sold back for the same amounts at which they were
bought. The player with the most money wins.
BONUS ROUND ("ONCE AROUND THE BOARD")
During the commercial break, the champion places for "GO TO JAIL" spaces
on the board: one on the second side past GO, one on the third and two
on the fourth. The object is to roll dice a maximum of five times and go
one time around the board without hitting a GO TO JAIL space. Rolling
doubles earns the champion an extra roll, but three doubles in a row
ends the game. Each space traversed earns the champion $100 and they can
stop at any time...because, if they "GO TO JAIL", they lose everything
in the round. If the champion passes GO within five rolls, they win
$25,000. If they land EXACTLY on GO, they win $50,000.
At least the board looked authentic, as if lifted directly from Parker
Brothers' pride-and-joy. And I guess an old-fashioned game NEEDED an
old-fashioned layout; computers don't improve EVERYTHING, after all.
Truth be told, I thought the first round was MUCH better than the
second. At least the contestants controlled their fate when earning
monopolies rather than having to surrender to blind chance in the second
round. The only downside I had with was that the green monopoly was
worth more than dark blue one. I know it was authentic,...but they
coulda bumped Park Place to $500 and Boardwalk to $750 or something.
While "crossword-clue" questions weren't exactly brand new, it was used
infrequently enough to make the main part of the show charming and
And it was pretty cool that they introduced "house rules" for the game.
It never says that taxes go to a pot to go to whoever gets FREE PARKING
but that's how my brothers and I played. And I guess it's used so often
that Merv decided to include it in THIS version.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
The second round...oy! Look, I know Monopoly is a complex game in and of
itself...but did they have to make the second round JUST as complex?
And, even WITHOUT the complexity, I would've gone with a more authetic
approach to buying and selling housing: $50/House on the first side,
$100/House on the second and so on. After the first round, the players
have MORE than enough to stuff Hotels EVERYWHERE; what's the strategy in
Mike Reilly was a former J! contestant taped to host. And it sure LOOKED
like he was thrown to the wolves with his fast talking and uninspired
speech. Oh, he tried...but he was no Peter Tomarken (who shot the pilot
And, while the board was authentic, there was NO reason to have a studio
THAT BIG! Look at it on the opening shot; it's looks twice as huge as
the J! set is. And most of it was empty space!
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Errr, no. These days, board games are something parents drag out
once-a-month or so to get their kids away from the iPads and PS4s. And
the kids do it begrudgingly. CBS went the right way tapping "Candy
Crush" as a game show. No board game translated into a game show would
ever fly outside of Discovery Family (and even THEIR "Family Fun Night"
didn't fly long). You shoulda stayed with J! and WoF, Merv; it was all
downhill from here (and, yes, I'll be higlighting a few of the other
Merv shows mentioned at later times). Again, one for the "nice try' bin.
NEXT TIME: The
NEWER show based on an Atlantic City-based game...
Chris Wolvie would REALLY like to see a game show based on RISK,
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