Review: The Big Showdown

Jim PeckHeather Cunningham
Broadcast history:
ABC Daytime December 23, 1974-July 4, 1975
Host: Jim Peck
Announcer: Dan Daniels
Assistant: Heather Cunningham

The categoriesThe players Three players competed. A payoff point, about 7 or 8, was introduced with a dollar value as determined by host Jim Peck's "money dial." These values ranged from $25 to $500. A one-point toss-up question was asked with the first to respond with the right answer also getting control. Six subjects were on the board, worth 1-6 points respectively. Any time a question received no correct response, a new 1-point toss-up was asked. The first to hit the payoff point exactly wins the cash. Any question that would put a player over the payoff is unavailable to that contestant. The game continues with new payoff points, increasing alternately by 7 and 8, with new dollar values determined by the dial. Around the halfway point in the round, six new topics are put on the board. A bell sounds when 90 seconds remain in the round at which point everything moves fast. Each payoff after the one in progress is automatically worth $100. The two highest scoring contestants go to "Final Showdown."

Final Showdown in progress In "Final Showdown" three topics, worth 1 to 3 points respectively, are introduced. The player with the highest score from the main game picks first. Play is like the first round, with a payoff of 7. First to get it wins $250 and the game.

The bonus round in progressSHOWDOWN! In the bonus round, the contestant was given two dice, with the sixes replaced by the words "SHOW" and "DOWN." They rolled them once, and if the word "SHOWDOWN" appeared, they won $10,000. If they failed to do that, the roll became a payoff point (with words counting as nothing). In 30 seconds, the contestant rolled as many pairs of dice as possible. Showdown here was worth $5,000. If they rolled the payoff point, they won $250 and an extra five seconds of rolling time. If no Showdown was acheived in time, the bonus rolling time was played without a payoff. Players retired from the show when they rolled Showdown, or came back on subsequent days if they failed to do so.

This is Jim Peck's first game show. Others he hosted include "Hot Seat," "Second Chance" and subbing jobs on "The Joker's Wild."

An oft-cited blooper is from episode 68, where Jim fatefully trips over himself whilst coming down the staircase in the intro.

The show was piloted at least twice, once under the title "Showdown" and another time as "The Big Showdown."

Heather Cunningham's only function on the show was to hand dice to the contestant.

Champion from the only existing ep, Andy Aaron, later went on to be in the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" hot seat. He won $250,000.

Wow. Another undiscovered classic, much in the same vain as "Whew!" I would be happy to see it in reruns or new first run shows. Incredible game with strategy, knowledge, speed, skill...basically every trait other shows claim to have in their opening spiels. The set is very snazzy for '74 and the music is awesome.

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

[ 09.5 ]

The $10,000 figure is hyped a lot, but is far from easy to get. The endgame was wholly based on luck and had nothing to do with the rest of the show, but it fit somehow to me and was very exciting. Definitely high up there in the "best of all-time" game shows, certainly high in "underrated."


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