It's the show where high culture and
pop culture collide like George W. and the English language! And you
think anyone but the host is getting rich, then...
SHOW: YOU DON'T KNOW JACK
AIR DATES: June 20 to July 18, 2001
CREATOR: Keith Truesdell; Jellyvision Games
HOST: Troy Stevens (played by Paul Reubens)
WATCH IT HERE: YouTube
Anyone who grew up in the 90s knows the computer game "You Don't Know
Jack", the "Irreverent Quiz Show Party Game". It's where they take pop
culture references and mix them into actual trivia questions. It's where
you get to "screw" your friends into answering questions they know
nothing about. It...seems like the PERFECT game to make into a game show
because - let's face it - it already IS a game show. So ABC got together
with Jellyvision to make it happen. They got the then-voice of "Cookie",
Tom Gottlieb, to be the announcer and, somehow, dragged "Pee Wee Herman"
out of hiding to host the show under an assumed name. Having it on
primetime Wednesday nights SHOULD have helped; it was one of the few
nights "Millionaire" WASN'T on. Hell, even Regis had a cameo on the
premiere episode! This should've been a killer show...but it just turned
into one of a long line of "summer one-shots" that ABC became (in)famous
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Three contestants played a quiz show hosted by Troy Stevens, a
combination game show host and DJ (has a sound machine to play SFX
during the show). The contestants play three rounds of questions, each
round with between three and five questions apiece. Most of the
questions are buzz-in and multiple choice. The questions are worth $1000
times the round number with no penalty for a wrong answer.
The final questions of each round are based on YDKJ categories:
ROUND 1 - DIS OR DAT: The host rattles off facts and the contestants
must buzz-in and determine which of two rather similar categories the
fact falls under (like "Barney" or "Satan"). Getting it wrong deducts
$1000. Sometimes, the fact falls under BOTH categories and the
contestant must say so if it does.
ROUND 2 - THE $2,000,000 QUESTION: When the host starts to read the
question, the clock counts down from $2 million and will only stop when
a contestant gets the answer right. However, something ALWAYS seems to
distract the host so that, by the time the whole question is asked, the
clock is below $100.
ROUND 3 - MATHEMATICAL QUESTION: The host asks the contestants to do a
math problem with various numbers that are answers to word problems (ex:
Perfect bowling score / Months ending in "-ember" + number of Backstreet
Boys x number of Oscars "Weekend at Bernie's" won). They have 30 seconds
to come up with the right solution (in this case: ((300/4)+5)x0 = 0)
while being distracted one way or another. Rights answers earn the
contestant $5000 while wrong answers deduct $5000.
After the three rounds, the one with the least amount of money is out of
the rest of the game.
FINAL ROUND ("JACK ATTACK")
On a screen, a clue is shown and the contestants must hit their button
when the right word or phrase from those flying by matches the word or
phrase that stays on the board via the clue. For instance, if the clue
is "Technicolor Yawn" (people with colors in their names) and the static
clue is "Sang 'Lady Marmalade'", the contestant must hit the button when
they see "Pink" fly by. Hitting the button when the clues match earns
$5000 while hitting it on the wrong clue deducts $5000 EVERY TIME its
After seven static clues are answered, the contestant with more money
wins the game and keeps the cash. The other two get parting gifts.
The original game was, essentially, a parody of game shows in general.
You'd think that would DQ it from even being CONSIDERED for an actual TV
version. But, much like the game, the show leaned heavily on comedy. And
damned if Paul Reubens didn't pull off the persona of Troy Stevens and
make us laugh. He would start each show ensuring the audience that this
is a REAL show with REAL contestants and REAL cash winnings. Then he
said that the only thing that WASN'T sincere...was HIM. But, truthfully,
he was QUITE sincere with his character and the jokes, while a BIT corny
sometimes, were PERFECT for the material the show was based on.
The set looked like a blend of various quiz shows of the 70s and 80s
with a TOUCH of 21st century tech thrown in. The buzz-in effects were a
bit on the long side, but the "right answer" graphics were a cute
edition. And, of course, the Jack Attack with Troy's head on the screen
worked quite well. The set was medium-sized but not much was wasted.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
I kinda wished more questions were asked each round. I can understand
that they didn't want the contestants to win TOO much money (they were
saving it for when some actually WON "Millionaire") but would one or two
more questions have hurt?
I get the idea behind The $2,000,000 Question...but it stopped being
funny after the first go. I would've loved to see a GIBBERISH QUESTION
or a THREEWAY or a WENDITHAP'N instead of seeing Troy wait and wait
until the clock was into double digits to finish the question.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Well, Jellyvision is now called "Jackbox Games" and, SOMEHOW, are still
making money for their games on Steam. If enough people want to see this
happen, I don't see why it wouldn't fly. Might take a Kickstarter to
bring it back, though, just like it brought MST3K back. But, if GSN or
Buzzr want to pony up the cash for the winners, I could see it happen.
Get on that, folks!
NEXT TIME: Ken
Ober's last hurrah...
Chris Wolvie never knew Jack...Barry, but he cried when he heard he
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