Lifespan: January - June 1980, September 1986 - December 1991
Hosts: Bill Cullen, Blake Emmons, Geoff Edwards
Announcers: Johnny Gilbert, Rod Chalabois
Produced by: Bob Stewart
Front Game Rules (1980 version)
Two teams of three players (two celebs and one civvie) compete. The object of the game was to solve a "Chain Reaction" of eight words. For instance: TURKEY - WISHBONE - TERRIER - SMART - UNIVERSITY - FRATERNITY - PLEDGE - FURNITURE.
|Each word is related to the two words before and after it. In this chain, a TURKEY is known for having a WISHBONE; WISHBONE is the name of a Jack Russell TERRIER in a popular kids' PBS show; TERRIERS are known as SMART dogs; if you're SMART you might go to a UNIVERSITY; while at the UNIVERSITY you might join a FRATERNITY; to enter a FRATERNITY you musit first make a PLEDGE; and PLEDGE is the name of a spray you use on FURNITURE.
In each turn, one member of the team got to reveal a letter in the word below the top word in the chain, or the word above the bottom word in the chain. If only one letter was left in the word, it would not be given. After the letter was revealed, the player then had 5 seconds to guess the word. If correct, the team won 1 point for each letter in the word (so PLEDGE is a 6-point word, but WISHBONE is worth 8 points), and the team retained control. At least one word in each chain was worth double score. The first team to reach 50 points won the game and advanced to the bonus round.
Front Game Rules (1986 version)
In the later version of Chain Reaction, two teams to two civilian contestants competed. Each team was composed of a giver and a guesser. On a team's turn, the giver could give the a letter in the next word of a chain to either his/her partner or opponent. A correct guess won the appropriate number of points for the round and retained control, while an incorrect guess passes control to your opponents. (Hence, if you give a letter to your opponent and s/he doesn't get the word, you get to go again.)
|In the first round, the first four words were worth 10 points each, while the last word was worth 20 points (the chains were reduced to 7 words in this run). In the second round, words were worth 20/30 points, and in the third round point values were 30/50. Also in later rounds, a "cash word" was in the chain, worth $500 to the team who guessed it. The first team to reach 300 points won the game and advanced to the bonus round.
Front Game Rules ($40K version)
In the final year of the second series, the game was formatted as a tournament, in which every player was vying for the top prize of $40,000. Play was the same as previous versions, only 500 points won the game. The tournament was played in a single-elimination format until the semifinals, at which point it became a double elimination format. After two rounds, the leader of the match had the opportunity to solve a three-word chain known as a "missing link" for $300.
End Game Rules (1980 version)
In the bonus round, both celebrities were shown a word, and tried to get their partner to guess that word by asking him/her a question. The catch was, each celebrity had to go back and forth, adding words to the question one at a time. If one celebrity gave two words, that question was thrown out. When the question was finished, one of the celebs hit a bell, prompting an answer from the civvie.
The interesting thing about the bonus round was its payment structure. In the first week, players received half a zero for each correct answer, and tried to get eight answers in 60 seconds for $10,000. When the majority of the players wound up winning $10 or $100, the time limit was upped to 90 seconds and the payment format was $1-$10-$100-$1000-$2000-$3000-$4000-$5000-$10,000. This format was found to be too easy, and so the payment was changed yet again to $100 for each one up to nine, $10,000 for ten. Still later, the $100 won in the frontgame was used as a building point, thus requiring only 9 correct answers.
End Game Rules (1986 version)
In the later run's end game, the object was to complete a chain using as few letters as possible. The team was given only the first word in the chain and had to figure out all the other words. If an incorrect guess was made, the next letter in the word was shown. The team could use a maximum of 7 letters along the way, and if they completed the chain before they ran out of letters, they won a jackpot worth $3000 and which grew by $1000 each day it wasn't won.
Loogaroo Looks it Over
I'll bet you that if the folks over at Bob Stewart Productions had come up with a concrete bonus round before they went on the air (rather than halfway through the show's run), this show might have lasted longer. The concept was certainly there, and the gameplay was pretty simple (although with 6 players to alternate between, even Bill got confused sometimes as to whose turn it was). The bonus round was quirky, but is fun to watch. Think about it: in order to be really successful, both celebrities have to be on the same track. Bill's hosting is once again terrific, and kudos to Bob Cobert for composing a nifty little theme song. Something has to be done about that set, though. There's a reason orange and blue aren't used together very often.
In the second run, the gameplay was improved on, but everything else was ruined. Blake Emmons shouldn't even be allowed to own a TV, the way he stunk up the airwaves while he was behind the podium. The payoffs were laughably cheap, and the set looked like it was done by a high school stage crew. I did like the new endgame, though - it made much more sense than the "make a sentence one word at a time" bonus round used in the original version.
Gameplay: 3 pts.
Host: 3 pts.
Presentation: 1 pt.
Execution: 1 pt.
Total Score: 8 pts.
The New Chain Reaction
Gameplay: 3 pts.
Host: 0 pts.
Presentation: 1 pt.
Execution: 1 pt.
Total Score: 5 pts.
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