|Mike Darow (1976–1977)|
Alex Trebek (1977–1978)
|Alan Kalter (Season 1)|
Sandy Hoyt (Season 2)
1976 PREMIERE SPIEL:
"This is Bernard Korman, in a few moments he will begin the climb that starts with $64 and ends with a chance to win $128,000. On THE $128,000 QUESTION! And now, here's your host, Mike Darow!"
The $128,000 Question was a revival of The $64,000 Question with double the stakes.
As on The $64,000 Question, each contestant was quizzed in a category which was his or her own area of expertise. In the first season, contestants selected categories from a board with several options. Once the contestant chose a category, a cassette tape containing four questions was given to host Darow, who then fed it into an electric typewriter onstage. For each question, Darow read it as the typewriter printed it onto a sheet of paper. After the contestant gave a response, the typewriter printed the correct answer. The first question was worth $64 for a correct answer, and the next three subsequent answers doubled that amount, up to $512. The contestant was given a chance to stop after every question, as answering incorrectly at any point ended the run and he/she was awarded a consolation prize; the value of said prize varied depending on when the incorrect answer was given.
If a contestant continued on from $512, the next question was worth $1,000 and play moved across the stage to a podium positioned in front of a television monitor. Game play remained the same as before, with each question displayed on the screen. Once the contestant gave a response, the correct answer was displayed on the screen. If the contestant answered the $1,000 question correctly and elected to play on, a pair of multi-part questions were asked one at a time. Once again, and from this point forward, answering correctly doubled the contestant's money. If both multi-part questions were answered correctly, the contestant ended up with a total of $4,000.
With the move to Toronto for the second season, the set and format were overhauled. A contestant's field of expertise was chosen prior to the show and revealed on air instead of chosen from the category board. Contestants now stood behind a podium with a numerical readout for the first five questions and the typewriter and television monitor stations were removed, with Trebek reading the questions from a booklet.
If the contestant was still in the game after seven questions had been asked, he/she was placed in an isolation booth onstage. Darow was handed an envelope containing a question with four or more parts, and after the question was asked the contestant was given some time to think before being prompted to answer.
When a player entered the isolation booth, the questions became multi-part, depending on the level:
|Prize Level||Answers Needed|
After a few weeks, they changed the rules a little; you were allowed to miss one part, but had to answer a "makeup" part to win the money. (The first $64,000 question asked only had 6 parts, but no makeup.)
In the second season, the $4,000 and up questions were in the isolation booth; also, the "makeup" parts didn't start until $32,000.
All of the $64,000 winners returned at the end of the season for a chance to double that amount to $128,000.
If the contestant missed a question at any time, they were eliminated and went home with a consolation prize based on the last question answered correctly.
The consolation prizes were as follows:
|Prize Level Range||Award|
|$8,000 or $16,000||Buick Skylark|
|$32,000 ($24,000 and a Buick Electra during Season 2) or $64,000||$16,000 in Season 1, $8,000 and a Buick Electra in Season 2. Early in Season 1, a player who missed only one part of the $64,000 question would leave with $32,000.|
Four contestants won $64,000 during the first season. The semifinals consisted of three rounds of questions for each player. Players were asked four questions in each round. If the player answered all four questions correctly, an additional question was asked. Each correct answer scored one point in Round 1, two points in Round 2 and three points in Round 3. After three rounds of questions, the two players with the highest scores advanced to the finals, in which the finalists would alternate answering questions. The first player to answer six questions correctly won another $64,000. However, each contender would be given an equal number of questions. If both players were tied at six points each, the players continued answering questions until the tie was broken.
Season 2 featured two $64,000 winners. The playoff game consisted of four rounds of gameplay. In each of the first four rounds, each player was given four questions. Each correct answer scored one point in Round 1, two points in Round 2, four points in Round 3, and eight points in Round 4. After the fourth round, both players took turns answering 16-point questions until one player achieved a total score of at least 128 points, thereby winning an additional $64,000.
- 1976-1977 season:
- Robert (Bob) Lipinski – Category: Wines
- Don Chu – Category: Big Bands
- Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Hill – Category: Pro Football
- June Bacon-Bercey – Category: John Phillip Sousa
- 1977-1978 season:
- John Crutz – Category: World War I
- Barbara Anne Eddy – Category: Shakespeare
- Originally, Viacom had intended to revive the series with the same title (and top payoff), but when rival series Name That Tune announced plans to add a "$100,000 Mystery Tune" for the 1976-77 season, Viacom did not wish for their series to only have the second-biggest payoff and added an end-of-season $64,000 tournament to the format.
- Further hindering the show was that a planned deal with CBS O&O's to carry the show in major markets had to be scrapped because of the network-imposed $25,000 winnings limit for game shows (which, at the time, was also extended to syndicated games airing on the O&O's). While the producers were able to get the Metromedia-owned stations to fill these gaps, ratings proved mediocre and the show was canceled after a two-season run.
A board game was released by the Ideal Toy Company in 1977, which followed the Season 1 format complete with a category tree. The game was given to contestants who appeared on the show during Season 1.
Ed Sullivan Theater, New York City, NY (Season 1)
Global Television Studios, Toronto, ON (Season 2)
The full September 18, 1976 Premiere (1983 KDOC repeat)
A full episode from November 24, 1977: