|Larry Blyden (Pilot)|
Bobby Van (Series)
|Mark Goodson/Bill Todman Productions|
"Places, please! It's curtain time...for the Showoffs! Elaine Joyce, Ron Masak, Linda Kaye Henning, Dick Gautier...and the host of Showoffs, LARRY BLYDEN!"
"It's curtain time...for the Showoffs! And here they are! (insert celebrity names)...and the host of Showoffs, BOBBY VAN!"
Two teams (red and blue) of three players (consisting of two celebrities and one civilian contestant, with each member wearing a sweater of the corresponding team color) competed in a game of charades. Because the team colors were indistinguishable on black and white television sets (which were still somewhat common in 1975), the words "REDS" and "BLUES" were later placed on the front of each team member's sweater for the benefit of home viewers.
Despite its short run, Showoffs had two formats for its main game.
One team was isolated while two members of the other team acted out a series of words to their partner for sixty seconds. The actors could alternate in acting, and the guessing partner could pass on a word if he/she were stuck, but the team could do that only once per game. When time ran out, the isolated team returned to the stage, and acted out the same words as the first team. The team that guessed the most words in two minutes (60 seconds per team) won the round. The first team to win two rounds won the game. If the game ended in a tie, then a tie-breaker round was played in which both teams had 30 seconds to act out three words. The team doing that in the fastest time won.
About halfway into the run (possibly in September), the method to win the game had changed. Now to win the game, the team had to correctly convey and guess a set number of words or more (usually seven).
Extra rounds were played if the goal had not been reached by the end of a full round. The tie-breaker was cut to two words in 30 seconds.
In either case, the civilian contestant on the winning team won a $1,000 prize package plus a chance to play the bonus round.
This also had two formats in the series.
All four celebrities alternated turns acting out a series of words for the winning contestant to guess during the next 60 seconds, with each correct answer worth $1.
When time ran out, one celebrity chosen by the contestant had 30 seconds to act out three words. Each word added a zero to the winning player's round one winnings - guessing one word correctly was worth 10 times the money, two words 100 times, and all three 1,000 times the money earned in the first phase.
More than $10,000 could be won in this format.
Around the point in which the front game changed, the bonus round was also revised. Now the winning contestant acted out a maximum of three words to one of his/her two celebrity partners. He/she acted out the first two words for 10 seconds each with those words worth $1,000 each.
The winning player could choose to stop after either of the two were guessed or risk his/her earnings to that point and continue. On the third and final word, the player acted it out for 15 seconds and if the celebrity partner guessed it, the civilian player earned $3,000 more, for a total of $5,000.
If at any point the celebrity partners failed to guess a word correctly when time ran out, the contestant lost half of his/her money earned up to that point.
The sounds used on Showoffs would later be used on Family Feud: the bell that sounded whenever a teammate guessed the word correctly became the (in)famous clang used for revealing answers. The win bells also were later heard on the show. The time's-up buzzer later signalled a strike.
Additionally, when a player lost the bonus round the "Losing Horns" from The Price is Right was played.
The original host was to be Larry Blyden and he taped a pilot on May 24, 1975 for Showoffs. Elaine Joyce, Ron Masak, Linda Kaye Henning, and Dick Gautier were the day's guests. The format used in the pilot was the same as that used in the first half of the series' run.
Soon after the pilot had finished taping, Blyden went on a short vacation to Morocco. While driving to Tan-Tan, his rental car went off the road and overturned, knocking him unconscious. Doctors in an Agadir hospital were unable to contact Blyden's family for several days as Blyden had been carrying no identification.
Blyden died on June 6, just twenty-four days before the series was to premiere.
ABC had almost no time to react to Blyden's death (tapings for the series were to begin soon) and substituted Bobby Van into the hosting role. This last-minute change may have deterred potential viewers, although Van had proved himself quite popular as a panelist on Goodson-Todman's Match Game. Promos that had been made prior to Blyden's death (using clips from the pilot, as was common with soon-to-debut games) had to be cut down so neither his voice or face could be seen or heard.
Showoffs debuted on June 30, 1975 at 12:00 Noon (11:00 AM Central), replacing Password and inheriting its predecessor's ratings problems. Despite facing the simultaneously over-the-top and weak Magnificent Marble Machine on NBC, Showoffs could not make any sort of dent in CBS' Young and the Restless, which that year became a top-ten show.
The game finished its six-month run on the day after Christmas and bowed out in favor of the ailing Let's Make a Deal, which left its 1:30/12:30 slot after over 11 years on two different networks. A scheduling shuffle involving Bob Eubanks' Rhyme and Reason made way for Regis Philbin's first shot as a game show host titled The Neighbors.
Showoffs was later revived on CBS from 1984 to 1986 as Body Language with Tom Kennedy as host. Johnny Olson announced from the debut through his death in October 1985, after which Gene Wood and Bob Hilton announced through the end of the run.
- Week of 6/30/1975: Sally Struthers, Dick Gautier, Joyce Bulifant, Ron Masak
- 7/7: Gregory Sierra, Jamie Farr, Mary Ann Mobley, Conny Van Dyke
- 7/14: Elaine Joyce, Avery Schreiber, Linda Kaye Henning, Leslie Nielsen
- 7/21: Struthers, Orson Bean, Stubby Kaye, Marcia Wallace
- 7/28: Masak, Richard Dawson, Lorna Luft, Udana Power
- 8/4: Gautier, Abby Dalton, Keir Dullea, Beverly Garland
- 8/11: Gary Burghoff, Louise Lasser, Bill Dana, Altavise Davis
- 8/18: Van Dyke, George Maharis, Betty White, Allen Ludden
- 8/25: Jack Cassidy, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Ross Martin, Susan Tolsky
- 9/1: Burghoff, Dalton, Henning, Greg Morris
- 9/8: Dawson, Joyce, Gene Rayburn, Bernadette Peters
- 9/15: Bean, Ruta Lee, Don Galloway, Lucie Arnaz
- 9/22: Nielsen, Bulifant, Anita Gillette, Jimmy Hampton
- 9/29: Masak, Ludden, White, Lee Meriwether
- 10/6: Gautier, Garland, Joan Collins, Robert Reed
- 10/13: Dullea, Ross Martin, Rhonda Bates, Shari Lewis
- 10/20: no listing
- 10/27: no listing
- 11/3: Burghoff, Clifton Davis, Jamie Farr, Maxine Andrews
- 11/10: Peters, Dalton, Ron Glass, Robert Morse
- 11/17: Struthers, Bean, Ellen Corby, Michael Bell
- 11/24: Gautier, Brothers, Mike Farrell, Karen Morrow
- 12/1: Masak, Joyce, Dullea, Julie Gregg
- 12/8: Van Dyke, Reed, Martin, Lynn Redgrave
- 12/15: Struthers, Nielsen, Henning, Dawson
- 12/22: Morris, Robert Urich, Tina Cole, Vicki Lawrence
Reportedly, only one episode is known to exist and is among tape traders in varied quality. Originally broadcast on November 28, guest celebrity Dr. Joyce Brothers injured herself on that episode. Her other celebrity partner, Dick Gautier, had to do her portion of the charades for the final round in the end of the show. Karen Morrow and Mike Farrell were the other two celebrities that day.
The pilot (with Larry Blyden as host) is located at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. A clip of it was shown during the VH-1 special Game Show Moments Gone Bananas.
"The Showoffs" by Edd Kalehoff