Thursday, September 10, 2015

Knock me out with a quiz

Now that I've ripped one of the failed game show pilots shown by Buzzr this week, I'll praise another one. TKO was a fast-paced 1989 quizzer hosted by Peter Tomarken, and an "interesting little game" according to Game Show Pilot Light.

The Light knows what it's talking about. TKO obviously rips off Jeopardy to some extent, but with enough twists to make it a worthy quizzer in its own right. The first couple rounds have a three by five board of questions. The contestants get three possible answers for each question, only in the form of initials (see the screenshot). They have to pick the right set of initials and then call out the full phrase. TKO is a group of initials itself, get it?

There's a kicker called a "knockout question," where a correctly answering contestant gets to knock off the dollar value from one of the competing contestants' totals. In the final round, this becomes pretty much the whole game, as every question is a knockout. The idea is to whittle away your competitors' stashes while keeping some loot yourself. The final survivor gets whatever dollars are left plus five grand.

Tomarken runs the game with his expected competence, and the pace never flags. It's pretty much the Jeopardy approach - keep the questions coming fast enough to tie down the viewer's attention.

Hard to say why this entertaining quizzer never got to air. The Light speculates that the game show market was just too glutted in 1989. That's possible, though the ruthless nature of TKO's competition might have scared off some execs. At least on Jeopardy the contestants don't knock down each other's cash totals. But TKO still deserved a chance, in my not so humble game show opinion.

9 comments:

  1. The pilot was taped for ABC while taped at CBS TV City. ABC was looking to replace the Home show and the Noon sitcom rerun with game shows, and a bunch of pilots were done in 1989-90 including Match Game with Bert COnvy, Gambit with Bob Eubanks, SPlit Second with Robb Weller, Name Game with Bob Eubanks, Body Talk(airing later this week on Buzzr) with VIcki Lawrence, Key Notes with CLint Holmes, and SUit Yourself with Jim Peck. Only Match Game made the air(with Ross Shafer hosting because of Convy's failing health) and the Home show stayed on the air a few more years, expanding to 90 minutes with Match Game left the air.

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    1. Yeah, all that information in on Pilot Light. But it still doesn't explain why this show never made it to air.

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  2. Yes, I agree with you Casey. TKO was a worthy game indeed and Peter did an excellent job of hosting. I'm perplexed as to why this never made it on the air. Who knows? Maybe after seeing the pilot, someone could resurrect the idea, right?

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    1. I took another look at parts of the video, and I can see why execs might have been wary. The competition really does get nasty in the final round, as the contestants try to drive each other out of the game. Can you imagine viewer reaction to Arthur Chu as a contestant on this show? He caught enough grief on Jeopardy. After a while, like two episodes, people would get real tired of watching somebody so unlikable eliminating people.

      Still, it wouldn't be a bad format for some cable outlet to try. I sure wouldn't have returning champions, though. They really might get stuck with an Arthur type who would turn off the audience.

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    2. I kind of wished that when As The World Turns ended in 2010, CBS replaced that with a revival of a game show. The Pyramid revival with Andy Richter looked interesting and watchable. But no, they had to choose another female chatfest show. I think we have had enough View ripoffs. I love to see ABC attempt to air a game show again if one of their daytime shows completely bomb out, but looks like that never would happen.

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    3. At least a Pyramid revival went on the air two years later

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    4. True. I thought it should have gotten renewed.

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  3. If they make the dollars small enough & get quality writers, TKO could work as YouTube game show.

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  4. One thing I didn't like that much was that for each "knockout" question, the contestants who got the correct answer chose which of the other two contestants was to lose money. That's too much like a reality show for me!

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