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Beat the Geeks
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The Joker's Wild (1990)
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with Chris Wolvie
"Sale of the Century" For the 21st
January 11

Where in the world could you find exclusive bargains like these? Right here at Shopper's Paradise! I'm Rossi Morreale, and this is more than a game show; it's...

Temptation: The New Sale of the Century
AIR DATES: September 10, 2007 to May 23, 2008
CREATOR: Al Howard (based upon "Sale of the Century")
PACKAGER: FremantleMedia North America, 20th Television
HOST: Rossi Morreale

If you grew up a game show fan in the 80s, you HAVE to remember "$ale of the Century", the revamp of a 1969-73 Reg Grundy Production starring Jim Perry. It was on NBC for six seasons and even had a syndie version for just under two years. But one problem with the network show was that it started to change when it came to the end of each show. It started with champions taking money earned during their run and purchasing awesome prizes for greatly reduced prices, then it morphed into a matching game for a prize and finally into this ridiculous word association round for cash and a car. When FremantleMedia (the successor to Goodson-Todman) got the rights to the show, they decided to a) put it on syndication, b) change the name to "Temptation" and - most importantly - c) return to the original SotC "buying bargains with money earned" format. One problem, the few prizes available started at bargain prices of around $100 and went all the way up to $600 so...they had to make making money easier. Understandable, but it kind of wrecked the ebb-and-flow of the 80s version.


Three contestants (including a returning champion if they haven't bought a prize on the previous show) start the show with $20 in "Temptation Dollars" and play two rounds of various games to earn more to be used - if they win - at Shopper's Paradise at the end of the show.

The game starts with a Speed Round: 30 seconds of pop culture questions. Buzzing in and giving a right answer earns $5, while getting the question wrong deducts $5 from the score. The leader after the Speed Round is offered an "Instant Bargain", a triple-digit prize for under $10. The leader can hit the buzzer at any time to take the prize but, if they don't take the bargain right away, the host can tempt them by lowering the price or offering cash in addition. A five-second "shop clock" is used as a final chance for the bargain. After that comes the "Fame Game", where the contestants try to name a famous person, place or thing. A "Wheel of Fortune"-style puzzle is filled in a little at a time as the clues are read. First to buzz-in with the right answer gets $15.

The round starts with a NEW game: "Knock-Off". Similar to "Wipeout", twelve possible answers and a category are show. Each contestant in turn tries to pick one of the answers that match the category. If they do, they earn money between $2 and $15. If they choose one of the three answers that are wrong, they're eliminated from the rest of the game. This followed by another "Instant Bargain" for a bigger prize for between $10 and $15. Then a second Speed Round is played with two possible answers and still worth +/-$5. After that is "Instant Cash", which is played just like the 80s version except using wallets instead of boxes. The leader has to give up their lead and have their score match second place for a 1-in-3 shot at a jackpot that starts at $500 and goes up by that amount every time it's not hit up to a maximum of $5000. A final Speed Round is played with questions worth +/-$10. Whoever is ahead at the end of that round is the champion and gets to go to Shopper's Paradise with the money they've accumulated (including, if they are the returning champion, the money earned from previous shows). If there is a tie, one more $10 question is asked. Whoever gets it right wins. If they're wrong, the opponent gets the $10 and wins.

The champion is shown the five "bargains" up for sale. They then play "Super Knockoff" to try to earn more money. THIS time, six of the twelve possible answers are right and will earn between $25 and $100 for a total of $250. The champion can stop at any time because, if they pick a wrong answer, they lose all they won in the round. If they have enough, they may purchase one prize from the five available. They may also decide to hang on to the money and play again on the next show knowing that, if they lose, they leave with only the money accumulated and any cash and/or prizes they got in the "Instant"s.

They did try to make it for a younger generation with the host, I'll admit. Rossi Morreale was a college football player who only had one other hosting job after this (a season of "Halloween Wars" on the Food Network) and he looked ALMOST like a clone of Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray (who would host "Don't Forget the Lyrics" a few years later). He used the youth to his advantage, but he treated the show like he had been doing it for years. Shame he decided to go into the event hosting business; I could see him hosting any number of shows.

The set sort of had a throwback to older game shows. "Shopper's Paradise" was visible throughout the show - unlike its predecessor - so the contestants not only knew for what they were playing but ALSO how much each would cost from the onset. And, yeah, the revolving door Rossi came through did SEEM a bit corny at first...but can't say it wasn't pretty unique.

I was SO glad they returned to the old format when it came to the end game. This was the whole purpose of SotC, IMAO. And the fact that they only had five prizes made it easier for when they changed them every week (or TWICE a week in some markets).

I guess my only issues with this are based on having watched SotC for six years and expecting this to be the same. Y'know, $5 questions occasionally broken up by Fame Games and Instant Bargains, MAYBE a speed round at the end? I guess I understood that they only had five prizes in the "Shopper's Paradise" instead of the nearly-dozen in the 80s version. But, in the 80s, a $75 win was considered VERY high. Here, they were all but GIVING the money away. And, while that's understandable given the prices, watching a game where everyone gets up to $100 at the same time...kinda dulls the excitement.

And I'm sorry but cribbing games from "Wheel of Fortune" and "Wipeout" was NOT the best idea the TPiR guys ever came up with. Between the three speed rounds and the "Instant"s, Fame Game and Knockoff brought the game to a virtual standstill. Oh, sure, Fame Game did that in the 80s...but only to a certain point. Seeing the contestants' faces as they tried to work out the clues helped matters in the 80s. Here, it was just a matter of waiting for the right number of letters to be shown. And Knockoff? Just a poor...knock-off, if you will, of "Wipeout" in an attempt to keep things fresh.


They did right to bring back the "bargains" at the show's end...but everything else kinda made the show unwatchable. If you couldn't get enough money for the cheapest prizes just by answering questions fast and avoiding the "temptation" of the "Instant"s, you DESERVED to just come back and try again. Again, maybe it's just my 80s nostalgia kicking in but, if they ever remade this again, they should stick closer to the original or the 80s formats. We're fine watching to see if the champion can earn the $60 more needed for the car, thanks. We don't need you handing the champ over $100 a show and saying, "Go nuts."

NEXT TIME: No celebs, no "boxes", no mustaches or connection at ALL to the original!

Chris Wolvie is always tempted by the fruit of another...bakery shoppe. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at