Showoffs was a Goodson-Todman game show that aired on the ABC television network for six months in 1975 from June 30 through December 26, with Bobby Van as the host and Gene Wood as the announcer. The original host was to be Larry Blyden, but he died in a car crash in between the filming of the pilot and the first week of shows. Showoffs was later revived on CBS under the name Body Language, with Tom Kennedy as the host.
Two teams (the red & blue) of three players (consisting of two celebrities & one civilian contestant, with each member wearing a sweater of the corresponding team color) competed in a game of charades. Because the team colors were indistinguishable on black and white television sets (which were still commonplace at this point in time), the words “REDS” and “BLUES” were later placed on the front of each team member’s sweater for the benefit of home viewers.
The main game
The main game had two formats in its six month run.
One team was isolated while two members of the other team acted out a series of words to their partner for sixty seconds. The actors could alternate in acting, and the guessing partner could pass on a word if he/she were stuck, but the team could do that only once per game. When time ran out, the isolated team returned to the stage, and acted out the same words as the first team. The team that guessed the most words in two minutes (60 seconds per team) won the round. The first team to win two rounds won the game. If the game ended in a tie, then a tie-breaker round was played in which both teams had 30 seconds to act out three words. The team doing that in the fastest time won.
The main game format was changed about midway into the run. Now to win the game, the team had to correctly convey and guess a set number of words or more (usually seven). Extra rounds were played if the goal had not been reached by the end of a full round. The tie-breaker was cut to two words in 30 seconds.
In either case, the civilian contestant on the winning team won a $1,000 prize package for the game, plus a chance to play the bonus round.
The payoff round
This also had two formats in the series.
In this version, all four celebrities alternated turns acting out a series of words for the winning contestant to guess during the next 60 seconds. Each correct answer was worth $1. When time ran out, then only one celebrity, chosen by the contestant, had 30 seconds to act out three words. Each word added a zero to the winning player’s round one winnings, meaning that guessing one word correctly was worth 10 times the money, two words 100 times, and all three 1,000 times the money earned in the first phase.
In this revised bonus round, the winning contestant acted out a maximum of three words to one of his/her two celebrity partners. He/she acted out the first two words for 10 seconds each; each word was worth $1,000. The winning player could choose to stop after either of the two were guessed or risk his/her earnings to that point and continue. On the third and final word, the player acted it out for 15 seconds and if the celebrity partner guessed it, the civilian player won the top prize of $5,000. If at anytime the celebrity partners failed to guess a word correctly when time ran out, the contestant lost half of his or her money earned up to that point.
ABC had basically no time to react to Larry Blyden’s death other than to substitute Bobby Van as host of Showoffs, and this last-minute change may have deterred potential viewers, although Van had proved himself quite popular as a panelist on Goodson-Todman’s Match Game. Starting on June 30, 1975, the Monday after the final ABC Password, at 12 Noon/11 a.m. Central, Showoffs inherited its predecessor’s ratings problems. Despite facing the simultaneously over-the-top and weak Magnificent Marble Machine on NBC, Showoffs could not make any sort of dent in CBS’ Young and the Restless, which that year became a top-ten show. The game finished a six-month run on the day after Christmas and bowed out in favor of the ailing Let’s Make a Deal, which left its 1:30 p.m./12:30 slot after over 11 years on two different networks. A scheduling shuffle involving Rhyme and Reason made way for Regis Philbin’s first shot as a game host, The Neighbors.
The sound effects used on Showoffs would later be used on Family Feud. The bell which sounded whenever a teammate guessed the word correctly became the clang for revealing answers on Family Feud. The dings for winning a game also was later heard on the show. The time’s-up buzzer was later used as the strike buzzer. When a player lost the bonus round, the “Losing Horns” fanfare from The Price is Right was played.
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