There's $10,000 at stake every time our audience shouts ("5... 4... 3... 2... 1... GO!") Welcome to...
SHOW: The Moneymaze
AIR DATES: December 23, 1974 to June 27, 1975
CREATOR: Don Lipp
PACKAGER: Don Lipp Productions
HOST: Nick Clooney
WATCH IT HERE: YouTube
Yeah, so, "The Big Showdown" wasn't the only show Don Lipp subjected us to in 1974-5. And, much like "Showdown", "The Moneymaze" had a relatively slow main game with a way-too-exciting bonus game for the lead-up. However, THIS one had couples quite literally running their backsides off for $10,000. Doubtful it's the first "physical" game show to hit TV, but it was definitely the first I was subjected to. Guess you could say this paved the way for Nickelodeon's "Double Dare" and the like. Still, there's no denying that to GET to the big "run around like rat to get money" part, you had to slog through something similar to "Showdown". And, of course, they had to "rebuild" the maze every week or two so this is one of the few shows that was canceled not JUST because of low ratings but also because of high production costs.
(BTW, I couldn't find any of the actual series shows, which has a different set of rules for the main rounds than the pilot I have linked. I'll be giving the main series' rules below, not the pilot's.)
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two married couples play. One half of the couple would play the game while the other is designated the "runner" for the couple.
The first two rounds each had a particular topic and eight clues. Two clues would be shown at any one time. One player would choose a clue and the other player would be asked a question based on that clue. If the player asked the question gets it right, they earn a point and choose a clue for the other player. If they're wrong, the player who picked the clue has a chance to steal the point and, if successful, they could continue picking clues AND answering questions until they miss.
Once all eight clues are asked, the couple with more points in the round wins the round and their "runner" gets to enter the Moneymaze to win a prize. The runner has 15 seconds to run through the maze and hit the side of a "tower" to get the prize. Later in the run, the couple was given the chance to try to hit TWO towers within 25 seconds for the prize and $500. Getting the prize (or prize and bonus) earns points for the couple: three for the prize, six for prize and bonus.
THE CATCH-UP ROUND
The third and final round is the Catch-Up Round. It's played similar the first two, except the first question is worth one point, the second worth two points, etc. and that the trailing couple would do answering until they tied or surpassed the leading couple. If they failed to tie or surpass, the game ended and the leading couple wins. If they tie or surpass, the former-leading player gets one (and ONLY one) chance to win the game with a final question; if they miss the question, the other couple wins.
BONUS ROUND ("THE $10,000 DASH")
The runner for the winners now must run the Moneymaze for 60 seconds. In the maze, five of the six towers are lit-up: four each with a "zero" and one with "the all-important one". The audience counts down to the start and, on "GO", the 60 seconds begin. Guided by the player, the runner goes through the maze to hit the sides of the lit towers. To win any money, the runner must, at least, hit the "one" tower. They must also exit the maze and hit a final buzzer (called a "birthday cake" due to how it looked) before time expires. If they do that, the couple wins money based on how many "zeroes" the runner hit. For example, if the runner hits the "one" and the three of the "zeroes", the couple wins $1000. If they win $10,000 or if this is their third time in the Dash, the couple retires as champions; else they come back to face another couple.
The set was impressive, especially for the mid-70s. I can understand why production costs were so high if they had to remake the maze constantly. But just the fact that they pulled it off was phenomenal for the time. And the audience had a bird's-eye view of the runners panting and sweating to win the money.
Would you believe it if I told you that the host was George Clooney's FATHER?! It's true, and I can see where George got his charisma. Nick kept the game going at a good clip. Shame he didn't get more hosting jobs but, from what I've read, he was fine being a news anchor in Cincinnati.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
Again, while the front game was unique for the time, it became a bit of a slog over time. Yeah, I know this was common for 70s shows. But there was imbalance between the front game and the bonus game, just like with "Showdown". What is it with Don Lipp and making shows with yawn-worthy front game before waking us up with the Dash like a loud alarm on Monday mornings? Gets a bit jarring, even WITH the "mini-runs" during the main game. Truth be told, the pilot was a LITTLE better with the balance.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Something like this would probably go over well as a kids' show. In fact, given shows like "Legends of the Hidden Temple", "Finder's Keepers" and "Fun House", it's ALREADY gone over. So maybe not this exact format but something a bit more unique could be a good kids' show. For adults, though? Well, they already have "American Ninja Warrior" for the "physical" stuff so...I wouldn't bank on it working.
NEXT TIME: A Sunday afternoon pastime now pays off...
Chris Wolvie would like to see Phil Keoghan inside that maze. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.