Michael Jackson
Charlie O'Donnell
Unsold Pilot: 9/18/1990
The Guber/Peters Company

This is a article for the 1990 pilot. For the 1974 pilot, see Countdown (1).

An unsold pilot for a proposed American version of the long running French and British versions of the show. This version lacked a mathematics round, though.


Two teams, each with one celebrity (Heather Thomas & Woody Harrelson) competed in a series of rounds involving forming words from a series of nine letters.

Letter tiles are arranged face-down into two piles; one all consonants, the other vowels. The contestant picks a pile, and Jackson reveals the top tile from that pile and places it on the board. A selection of nine tiles is generated in this way, and must contain at least three vowels and four consonants. Then, the clock is started and both contestants have 30 seconds to come up with the longest word they can make from the available letters. Each letter may be used only as often as it appears in the selection.

Both team members write down the words they have found during the round, in case they have the same one. The players may confer, but each player comes up with an individual word and shows them Match Game-style at the end of the 30 seconds. After the 30 seconds are up, the players declare the length of their chosen word, with the player who selected the letters declaring first. If either player has not written their word down in time, he/she must declare this also. The words are then revealed. If either player has not written their word down, that is revealed first; otherwise, the shorter word is shown first. The teams score one point for each letter in both words, up to a maximum of 18. If a contestant offers an invalid word then they score no points. If the second player reveals the same word as the first, this must be proved by showing the word to the other contestant. Finally, two word authorities (Tony Pandolfo and Lori Huggins) reveal the best word they could find from the selection, aided by the production team.

In Round Three, only eight letters are pulled. The ninth letter is wild, like a blank in Scrabble. Also, players were not allowed to confer in this round.

The team with the most points wins the game. In addition, if at any point, a team comes up with a nine letter word, the civilian player wins $25,000 (unknown whether it's for every word, or a one-time bonus).

Bonus RoundEdit

The team has 45 seconds to solve seven scrambled words (four, five, six, seven, seven, eight and nine letters long). The celebrity was allowed to assist. Getting each word was word $200 or $10,000 if the player could get all seven. All words had something in common, like "At the Movies".

As in Pyramid, the players switch partners, and another game is played, with the player with the most money returning the next day.


It used the music from the British version at the time, by Alan Hawkshaw.


Based on the French show Des chiffres et des lettres by Armond Jammot.


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Countdown (1990) at The Game Show Pilot Light