In a moment, a game that intrigued a nation. In a moment, the game of
strategy, knowledge and fun! In a moment...
AIR DATES: September 10, 1990 to December 7, 1990
CREATOR: Barry & Enright Productions
HOST: Patrick Wayne
WATCH IT HERE:
Growing up, I had three favorite syndicated shows I'd try to watch every
night: The Joker's Wild, Bullseye and Tic-Tac-Dough. Yeah, they were
pretty much the same format and they all had the typical "70s
contestants" that could've used a clue-by-four to the medulla oblongata,
but I loved them nonetheless. I explained how Klein & Friends totally
screwed up TJW last time. This time, I'll explain how Barry & Enright
screwed up their OWN show at the same time. Not that it was ENTIRELY
their fault, mind; they had to get the show back from Granada
International, who bought the original version. Who knows if this was
the version Granada came up with or if B&E went a little too far in
trying to update it. Point is, while they stuck to the general format,
the changes were a little too much to hack...even for John Wayne's son,
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two contestants (including a reigning champion) play a game of
tic-tac-toe by answering questions to earn squares. The champion is
always "X", the challenger "O". Each square has a different category
which changes after each question. The categories are in blue lettering
save for "special" categories in red; those categories involve both
The categories are shuffled until the contestant in control hits a
button. The contestant then chooses a category. With a blue category,
the host asks a question and, if the contestant gets it right, they earn
the square and money is added to the pot. The outer squares add $500 to
the pot, the center square (which prompts a two-part answer and allows
the contestant a few seconds to think before answering) adds $1000. A
wrong answer leaves the square open. Control passes between the two
contestants regardless of outcome.
Red "special" categories involve both contestants and, in most cases,
can result in the square claimed by EITHER "X" or "O".
If a contestant completes tic-tac-toe by claiming three squares in a row
- vertically, horizontally or diagonally - they win the game and the
money in the pot and advance to the bonus game. If all squares are taken
and neither one gets tic-tac-toe, the pot is reset for another game and
values are doubled for it.
BONUS ROUND ("BEAT THE DRAGON")
This was the bonus round of the original CBS version with a few
differences. Behind nine squares were "X"s, "O"s, a Dragon and a "Dragon
Slayer". Before the game starts, the champion must choose which symbol
to play with (which, BTW, does NOT guarantee there'll be a tic-tac-toe
of that symbol). The champ stops a blind shuffle with a button and then
calls out numbers. The first time the champ finds a symbol they picked,
the pot goes to $500. For each subsequent symbol found, the pot doubles.
Choosing the opposite symbol does nothing. The object is to find three
of the chosen symbols in a tic-tac-toe arrangement on the board OR to
find the Dragon Slayer before finding the Dragon. Finding the Dragon
ends the game and wipes out the pot. Finding the Dragon Slayer wins the
game and doubles the pot. Winning the game gives the champion the money
in the pot (up to $16,000) and a prize package worth about $2000.
At least, as I said, they stuck to the original format and just upped
the dollar amount for the 90s. It's like Dan Enright saw what K&F were
doing to their OTHER masterpiece and thought, "Nopenopenope...we'll
stick to what works!" And it DID work.
The questions were as challenging to the 90s contestants as the original
ones were to the 70s and early 80s ones. Either that or the questions
were the same difficulty and the contestants were culled from original
pool who had to wait five years between the cancellation of the 80s one
and the premiere of this one. Either way, a very challenging show.
Updating the board I can understand. It's not BAD...for the late 80s and
early 90s. I just thought they could do better than a projection screen.
Still, beats the pixelated screens that dominated the original (not that
THAT was bad, either).
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
Look, I get that "pick, question, answer, score" gets repetitive after a
while. Hence the "special" categories to spice things up. But,
personally, I never thought much about them. Oh, when the first one,
"Secret Categ'ry" came up, I was intrigued. But, near the end of Wink's
run, they had up to THREE "specials" in each game! And tossing them in
at the beginning of the remake just made me shiver. Oh, they sped the
games up and reduced the chances of ties but...c'mon.
Couldn't they have gone with the original syndie bonus game? Y'know, the
typical B&E endgame with money and a villain that takes your money? The
one Thom McGee racked up over $300,000 playing? I can understand, given
the rules for the "pot", that they didn't want them taking TOO much
money...AND they balanced out the chances of there being no tic-tac-toe
of the picked symbol with the Dragon Slayer...but that still makes the
bonus game less fun to play.
Patrick Wayne is no Wink Martindale by any stretch (but, truly, who is?
The man has, like, 118 teeth in his smile). He was decent and knew the
game, but he didn't quite have the enthusiasm of his predecessors. No
wonder this was his first and last game show hosting gig. He still had a
decent movie and TV acting career so...no crying over him.
Oh, yeah, and towards the end they had the Dragon and Dragon Slayer
"rap" when they were introduced. Uh,..........yeah, no.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
The game works. Hell, the syndie version was actually a remake of a
FIFTIES' version! But a lot of people (like me) grew up with the syndie
version and loved it. And the technology has improved greatly over three
decades to make the board look awesome. Just keep it simple is all that
can be asked. One "special" category per game, don't bother letting the
contestants shuffle the categories, MAYBE a tiebreaker instead of
endless tie games and stick to the syndie bonus game. Do that, Buzzr,
and you could have a great remake on your channel to go with all the
Goodson/Toddman reruns you just pilfered!
NEXT TIME: Ace
is high, deuce is low, but it ain't lower than THIS damn show...
Chris Wolvie STILL thinks it's hip to be square (the poor sap).
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