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Beat the Geeks
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with Chris Wolvie
Home Is Where The Right Answers Are
March 29

Today, one of these couples could win a fabulous new home! Welcome to...

Dream House
AIR DATES: April 4, 1983 to June 29, 1984
PACKAGER: Group W Television, Lorimar Television
HOST: Bob Eubanks

These days, owning a house seems like a pipe dream. Mortgage rates are through the roof thanks to the housing crisis during the first decade of the century and only the upper-middle class or better can truly afford it without having two jobs. It may not have been that bad in the 80s, though the same "trickle-down economics" seem to be in play these days. But, still, it seemed the only surefire way to get enough to even think about financing a house was to come into a lot of money...which meant either winning a lottery that barely peaked at a few million back then or, of course, winning it on a game show. But ONE show dared to say, "How about we just GIVE you a home for being incredibly lucky or skillful enough to stay around for a week or so?" This was "Dream House", a remake of a late 60s show where the ultimate prize isn't a few thousand dollars and/or a new car but a place you could call your own...provided it's built by a certain company and in a certain neighborhood.

Two married couples - usually including returning champions - play for cash, a room full of furniture and a shot at their own house.

The first round has four categories each with one question. A true/false question is asked first in which any player could buzz-in...but ONLY after the entire question was asked. If the one who buzzed-in gets it right, that couple gets $50 and control. Otherwise, the $50 and control goes to the other couple.. The couple in control picks one and is asked a multiple-choice question with three possible answers. They then choose one of the answers. The opposing couple could then choose to "challenge" and pick their own answer from the remaining two (they could do this twice a round). The correct answer is then revealed. If the couple in control gets it right, they earn $100 and keep control. If a challenge is made and the opposing couple is right, THEY get the $100 and control. If they're wrong and the couple in control is right, the in-control couple gets an extra $50. The couple with more money at the end of all four questions gets a small prize.

The second round is played just like the first with one addition: a couple in control could choose to try to "double their dollars" on any one question of the round. If they get the question right, they earn $200 (plus $100 more if they were challenged). A correct challenge earns the other couple $200. The couple with more money at the end of this round wins the game, becomes champions and earns a room's worth of furniture. Both couples keep whatever money (and prize) they won during the game. In case of a tie, a final true/false question was asked for $50 and victory.

During the last few months, the rules were changed. Instead of each question being worth $100, a "Money Machine" randomly flashed values of $50, $100 and $150. When a couple hits a buzzer, the amount of the question is locked in. Below the amounts are three other "spaces" that flash: "Prize" (meaning whoever gets the question right wins a small prize), "Turnover" (which throws control to the other couple) and - only in the second round - "No. Off" (getting the question right will knock a number off the board in the Bonus Round). If a couple won by $500 or more, they received a $500 bonus. If they won by $1000 or more, they won a new car.

Three rows of four random numbers are shown on the board. One number from each row make up a combination which will open the Golden Doors and win the couple a new house (chosen before they first came on the show and built by U.S. Homes). Depending on when the show was taped, each visit or return visit to the bonus round would knock a number off one of the rows (plus another number if they got to "No. Off" space in the main game). They then have a chance to knock one number off each row by answering questions on a category they choose from three possibilities. Each of the three questions has two possible answers. Getting the question right knocks a number off: first question knocks it off the first row, second question the second and the last one the third. After all three questions are asked, the couples chooses one of the remaining numbers from each row and presses "the time-release bar" beneath the rows. The frame of the Golden Doors starts to light up...and, if it lights up completely (meaning they picked the right combination), the Doors open and the couple retires as champions with the house they chose. Otherwise, a buzzer goes off and the right combination is shown.

Originally, a couple would return as champions for up to seven games if they didn't win the house. If the seventh game in a row was won, the host would press a "circuit breaker" and the Golden Doors would open automatically and the couple would win the house without going through the bonus game. Later, seeing how difficult this was, they changed it to five games (funnily enough, the champion couple when the rule change took effect were playing their fifth game; they won the game and the house). Later still, they changed it to SIX games.

In the last weeks, they apparently ran out of couples, so single contestants were teamed with celebrities to try to win the house.

Needless to say, Bob Eubanks was used to working with couples; all those years on "The Newlywed Game" (and the years he'd spend on the remake after this show was over) prepared him for dealing with the eccentricities of married couples. Wouldn't be as bad (or as entertaining) for him this time around as most of the couples were past the "newlywed" phase but he had good chemistry with them nonetheless. He joked when he needed to but mostly played it straight.

As a preteen, I always looked forward to the bonus game and the couple pushing the "time-release bar". And I was quite happy when that bar over the top of the door frame lit up and the fanfare blasted. They really knew how to build the tension. And you sort of HAD to if you were giving away a prize worth over $100,000 at the time (I know, right? So CHEAP by today's standards).

This is "nitpick territory" here but I always found the set to be a little off-putting...just by its placement. Maybe I was more OCD back then but seeing that the stage had the game played on the right with the back wall slanted away and the left side full of the "room" the champs would win...I dunno...just seemed weird to me.

I didn't mind the rule changes too much but, again, I can see why this led to its demise. Still no idea why they changed it except, perhaps, they thought it would make the games more exciting and commutative. But it just made things more complicated. And it led to people turning back to the second half of "The Price Is Right". Well,...that and the celebrities. Just because celebrities worked on the Goodson/Toddman shows does NOT mean it'll work EVERYWHERE. You put celebs on your game show at the time and you're almost guaranteed cancellation.

Looking back, I wonder why have categories with just ONE question. I mean, sure, "Millionaire" ran with this same deal for a while but they were on better footing. Again, nitpick; I didn't have many problems with this show, really.


Honestly, I'd put it as 50-50. Not sure how many people are willing to move or wait for their "dream house" to be built. And, let's face it, everyone's "dream" is different and wouldn't fit into the half-dozen possibilities given in this show. But, then again, I said getting a home was hard these days so couples MAY want to risk it. With so many shows offering enough cash for even a down-payment on a mortgage, though, it might be a hard sell. !

Rolling dice and applaud a lynching? Really?

Chris Wolvie hopes for a dream condo himself. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at