Lifespan: August 1999 - Present
Hosts: Regis Philbin, Meredith Vieira
Produced by: Valleycrest Television
Front Game Rules
To start off, 10 players are given a list of four items, and must put them in order. (Example: Put the following people in order they appeared as cast members on Saturday Night Live, from earliest to most recent.) The player who put them in the correct order, and did so in the fastest time, was called up to play the maingame.
|The object of the game is to answer a set of 15 questions, each with four possible answers. The contestant then chose one of the answers and locked it in as his/her "Final Answer". If correct, s/he moved up to the next dollar level and advanced to the next question. The first question won $100, the second was worth $200, then $300, $500, $1K, $2K, $4K, $8K, $16K, $32K, $64K, $125K, $250K, $500K, and finally $1,000,000. On answering the fifth and tenth questions right, the player guaranteed him/herself at least $1000 or $32,000, respectively, even if s/he missed a question later on.
|If the contestant was stuck on a question, s/he was allowed to employ one or more "Lifelines". The Lifelines consisted of 50:50, which removed two wrong answers from consideration; Ask the Audience, where the studio audience voted for their endorsement using keypads; and Phone a Friend, where the player had 30 seconds to communicate with a loved one by telephone for help. Each Lifeline could only be used once. A player could also elect to stop at any time with the money s/he had earned to that point, before a final answer was given. If a player answered incorrectly, the game was over and the player regressed to the last guarantee point s/he had reached (if one was indeed reached).
Derived from the British quiz phenomenon, WWTBAM premiered in August of 1999 and became a smash hit, airing on 13 out of 14 consecutive nights (pausing only once for Monday Night Football). When it returned in November, it crowned its first million-dollar winner: IRS worker John Carpenter, who became somewhat of a pop icon after blowing through his stack without using a Lifeline, and only using his Phone a Friend on the last question to call his dad and inform him that he was going to win. Since then, eight other people reached the pinnacle as well.
Among the show's (many) notable contestants are: Doug Van Gundy, a fiddler from West Virginia who became the show's first quarter-millionaire; Joe Trela, who used his Lifelines up on the tenth question only to get through the entire upper tier - as well as the gut-wrenching final question - without needing them; Kati Knudsen, who almost mounted a similar comeback only to lose $218,000 on a wrong answer after vehemently refusing to quit; Kevin Olmstead, the current high-man on the totem pole for game show winnings after picking up $2,180,000 (thanks to a progressive jackpot adopted later in the show's run), and Robby Roseman, who became the show's first outright loser after incorrectly guessing on the first question that Hannibal crossed the Alps with llamas.
Loogaroo Looks it Over
Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Gameplay: 3 pts.
Quite possibly the world's most perfect quiz show.
Host: 2 pts. (Reege), 3 pts. (Meredith)
Reege started out strong but started giving out his verdicts more quickly. Meredith, though, has impressed me with her ability to let the contestants hang.
Presentation: 2 pts.
The theater-in-the-round set is good enough, but it's the music that really adds to the experience.
Execution: 2 pts. (ABC), 1 pt. (Syn.)
Originally, a potential contestant called a phone number to audition for the show, then they went to contestant tryouts which put a damper on winnings and the varied personalities.
Total Score: 9 pts.
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