Review: Supermarket Sweep

David Ruprecht
Broadcast history:
Lifetime February 5, 1990 - Summer 1994
PAX August 6, 2001 -
Host: David Ruprecht
Announcer: Johnny Gilbert, Randy West

Mini Sweep in progress Three teams of two played. Each team started with 1 and a 1/2 minutes of sweep time to build on. In the opening "Mini Sweep," David read a rhyming couplet or similar clue where the last few words was the product to be found. Identifying the last part (the product) earned the team who buzzed-in 10 seconds. One team member then had to search the market for the product in 30 seconds or less. If they found it in 20 seconds or less they got $100 to be added to their final sweep total. If they got it before the bell, they got $50.

Matching clues to product names Which is less than $3.00? One half of each team left as the other played games for sweep time. These games changed over the years, but included some of the following: David shows the players three products, and they guess which sells for over $3.00, under $4.00, etc. Also, 6 slogans were shown and the contestants had to match them to the products.

Round Robin Game in progress The other players were brought back for a second "Mini Sweep." Following that the partners who did not play alone before now got a chance to add to their sweep time. After that round of games were done, all players participated in the "Round Robin Game." Each team member plays in an equal number of questions (three) where each right answer is worth 10 seconds. A common format is to scramble the name of a food item and then identify it with help from David's clues. This has modified to use brand names on occasion.

A clue monitor2...1...and GOOO! Each pair then picks a runner for the "Big Sweep." Here the teams are ranked from highest time, team one, to lowest, team three. Team one's cart-pusher goes into the market on Ruprecht's "GO!" They can scoop as much as they can into a bevy of carts, provided by their teammate at the checkout counter. Throughout the market are many chances to add to their total such as: Inflatable or otherwise large bonuses made to resemble food products. They have dollar amounts attached that go from $50-$200, and later one with a "Super Bonus" of $250 to add to their sweep total. The candy stand is another favorite, where the player weighs out one pound of hard candyThe ever popular meat sectionThat's a BIG bonus (within a cent either way) for $100 additional. A pound of coffee can also be ground for $100. Inside a large barrel of cans are some marked with a star, and if found are worth $100. Each team goes into the market as their time comes. Other rules include $25 penalties for each dropped item you don't pick up. At the final bell, each team returns to the counter to add up all the bonuses and groceries they have racked up.

One thousand...FIFTY-SIX dollars! Starting with team three, the bonus values are revealed and total with groceries. The team with the highest total value goes for $5,000.

The infamous $5,000 double hugOoh, that's a tough one In the bonus, the winners are read a clue much like a "Mini Sweep" clue that leaves out the identity of a product. The clock starts at 60 seconds. Attached to that product is another clue of similar nature that leads them to another item. The third item has $5,000 cash attached to it. To win it, they must have the money in their hand before 60 seconds expires. If they don't, they get $200 more for each item they did find.

The show remained virtually the same when it returned in 2001 on PAX. Ruprecht and Gilbert returned, and some new games and bonuses were thrown in. The second mini sweep was eliminated. Some episodes throw out the entire second half for a "30-second The Jelly Belly standShootout." One team member acts a clue giver and tries to convey a number of words to their partner (think "Pyramid") in 30 seconds. The first letter of each word is part of a brand name or product name. If they can identify it they get 30 seconds of sweep time. In the market, new stands such as a "Jelly Belly" display can be used to earn more money. Other games such as "Sweep Swipe" have been used where runners move boxes from a table to their team's stand to earn sweep money. Outside of those changes, the game is exactly the same.

Each team gets time before the show to roam the makeshift supermarket to see where everything is located.

In the first season, final totals were revealed as dollars and cents. From the second season up to now, the totals are rounded to the nearest dollar. Cents only figure in when two or all three teams have the same rounded figure in the end.

On most of the Lifetime series and all of the PAX run, no audience was present for the final sweep. An audience was used to tape the main game session for that day, then removed when it came time to do supermarket runs. However, camera shots of the audience used for the main game were thrown into the sweep to create the illusion they were still there watching.

The original show aired in the 1960s with host Bill Malone. The show took place from a new supermarket each week, and the winners kept the groceries. In the modern run of the show, some of the food is fake (meats and cheeses) while some of the food is real and donated to charities at the end of a season.

Twin Car Giveaway Some of the specials the show has held have been mother & daughter shows, a "double up" week where past winners could double their original 5-grand into ten by winning another bonus. Also "Sweep" held a "Twin Car Giveaway" where the best teams over a period of time played a final game for two new Geo Trackers.

David Ruprecht is an actor who has appeared in many small roles, but is better-known for playing Thurston Howell IV in a "Gilligan's Island" TV movie.

Johnny Gilbert, who announced the show from Lifetime to the end of PAX TV's first season is well-known as the current voice of "Jeopardy!" He has also lent his vocals to "The $25,000 Pyramid," "Joker's Wild" and hosted "Music Bingo" decades ago.

Randy West was a contestant on "Face the Music," "Hit Man" and many other shows. He started as a game show announcer with "Trivial Pursuit" and the other Family Channel interactive shows. His "Sweep" tenure began with a second batch of PAX shows. Currently, he warms up audiences for "Weakest Link" among other projects when not doing "Sweep."

The announcers' call of the sweep is scripted. One-liners are produced through the show's writing team.

A good sweep in the first years of the show would be around $900-$1,200 whereas now bonuses can bring that around $1,700-$2,000.

Whew! My, that was verbose. I'm sorry to get long-winded there. Anyway, to the review. It's a fun show that caught on early with cable audiences and is widely-watched by game show lovers and non-lovers alike. It ran forever in reruns both on Lifetime and PAX, and a revial was a smart move on the part of PAX. The game is light-hearted, the action fun to watch and sometimes hilarious as well.

Cast - 1.5
Game - 1.5
Bells and Whistles - 2.0
Prize - 1.5
Tilt - 2.0

[ 08.5 ]

Going from top to bottom - Ruprecht was pretty reliant on his cards in the beginning, but found his spot quick enough. His general demeanor can get to you sometimes but he's more genuine than a lot of hosts have been. The announcers have been superb as well, and the play-by-play on the sweep is a great touch. Some of the games are a little unfair and feel like big add-ons on the newer version, but don't divert too much from the play to make it terrible. The set and music are great; it certainly is a supermarket. The prizes may be a little chintzy, but before this not a whole lot of stuff was given away on cable ("Double Dare" prize packages were about $2,000). A lot of fun for everyone.

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