hot potato

Hot Potato (game show)

Hot Potato was a television game show broadcast on NBC in the United States from January 23, 1984, through June 29, 1984.

Bill Cullen was the show's host and Charlie O'Donnell was its announcer. The series was produced by Barry & Enright Productions, its only post-scandal series produced by NBC under the Barry & Enright logo, and the last network game show produced by B&E. Another NBC game show, Blank Check aired nine years earlier, which was produced by Jack Barry Productions before Dan Enright's partnership with Jack Barry resumed. Another Barry & Enright game show, Bullseye, was briefly produced at NBC for syndicated television in 1980 before moving to CBS in early-1981.

The show featured an orange-and-red logo which emitted smoke (accompanied by a sizzling sound) at the beginning and end of each episode. This effect always occurred just after Charlie would say the word "hot" in the show's title, after announcing the contestants and again during the ending credits.

Although this show is often referred to as a variation on Family Feud (mainly due to the questions with multiple answers and the penalty for giving three wrong answers), it did have some notable differences. The main difference was that the questions were often general knowledge instead of surveys, and no system of ranking the answers was used. The ability of a contestant to pass to a player on the other team was also unique to this show.

The main game

During the main game, two teams of three players, each sharing a common bond (occupation, mothers-to-be, etc.) competed. Cullen read a question with finite number of seven or more answers (the actual number for each question was given). The questions included both trivia questions with a number of factual answers (for example, "name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World."), and survey questions in which a chosen number of the most common responses formed the pool of answers.

One member of the champion team started the round by either giving an answer or challenging an opponent to answer. If they gave an answer, and it was correct, control passed to the next member of that team in line; each subsequent member could answer or challenge an opponent. If an answer was wrong, the contestant was eliminated for the duration of the question, sent to the bench which rotated in behind the team's podium, and the other team took control and played in the same manner.

If a player chose to challenge, and the chosen opponent gave a wrong answer, that opponent was benched and the challenging team retained control, moving to the next player. If the opponent was correct, their team kept control, and the challenging player was benched.

If play reached five correct answers, the host would read the given answers back for the contestants. Teams could win a question one of two ways: by giving the seventh correct answer in the question (regardless of who gave the first six, and regardless of how many correct answers a question had) or by eliminating all three of their opponents.

The first team to win two questions won the game, $1,000 and advanced to the bonus round. Partway through the show's run, a "Seven Straight Jackpot" was offered to any team that could get seven correct answers in a row. The Jackpot started at $500 and increased by that amount every time it was not won. This bonus was discontinued when the format became Celebrity Hot Potato (see below).

The bonus game

The winning team was given a subject of comparison followed by the question (which weighs more, which group has more members), and shown two possible choices. The team debated for a while and then made their choice. If correct, they won $500 and continued. The team could stop at any time and take the money, and they could pass on one question if they wished. Missing one choice ended the round and lost all accumulated money therein; getting 5 correct answers won a jackpot that started at $5,000 and went up $5,000 each game until won (although new champions always started at $5,000).

Celebrity Hot Potato

On April 23, 1984, the show became Celebrity Hot Potato. From that point, until the show's cancellation, teams consisted of one contestant and two celebrity players. Each set of four celebrities appeared on the show for one week, and the team assignments of the celebrities were shuffled after each game in order to maintain variety (usually, one celebrity from each pair would remain on the champion's team, while the other switched places with one of the celebrities on the challenger's team). A few weeks were played where all three players on a team were celebrities (usually with some theme employed, such as comedians or stars of a particular TV series), with their winnings going to various charities.


The show suffered from being in the noon eastern time slot, as many NBC affiliates preempted Hot Potato in favor of local newscasts. The show was also scheduled against Family Feud on ABC and, on some stations, The Young And The Restless on CBS. Ironically, the next show to last in the noon eastern time slot, Super Password, lasted 4 1/2 years, mainly due to independent stations who caried the show while the show was preempted on NBC for newscasts.

Episode Status

The series is completely intact, and repeat episodes have aired on USA, GSN and CBN.

External links

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